Q. A couple of years ago I attended a matinee screening of a film at a local multi-screen theater. At the appointed time, a commercial for a local housing developer appeared, rather than the film I had come to see.
After about 30 seconds of that effrontery, I began to boo quite loudly. The audience, mostly teenagers, joined me in expressing distaste for this fare, and the resulting din soon reached a level that surely must have been audible in the adjoining theaters. Abruptly the commercial message stopped and the feature film began.
I did not notice further attempts at such chicanery until about a year ago. But since then, every movie I have attended has been prefaced by ads for local periodicals, radio and TV stations, eateries, etc., which I also boo.
Ideally I would choose not to attend any establishment which so insults its paying patrons; however, every movie theater in the local chain exhibits the same commercials.
I do not disrupt the previews of coming attractions, which I also consider advertisements and a waste of my time, as I realize that others enjoy these.
I have never been scolded or hushed by any members of the audience, other than my companions. I asked them whether I was interrupting a message of interest; all replied no, so I continued to boo.
My friends and dates admit that they, too, extremely dislike paying $7.50 to see a movie and then having to sit through ads and previews, but they say that booing is rude because it draws undue attention to me, and hence to them.
I am hoping that you agree that booing is not impolite, mainly because I believe that if more moviegoers did it, it would rapidly put a stop to the theaters' deplorable practice. However, if you disagree, I have agreed to suffer in silence.
A. Although too timid to boo, Miss Manners has long been a defender of those who do so with restraint. You make a good case for your having done so for a sensible purpose. She refuses to silence you.
However, there is something to be said for not knowingly embarrassing one's friends in a cause that could be fought otherwise, perhaps more effectively. (As you point out, the practice has grown in spite of your action.) It sounds as if your friends and others would be more than willing to join you in writing a protest letter to the theater chain.
Feeling incorrect? Address your etiquette questions (in black or blue-black ink on white writing paper) to Miss Manners, in care of this newspaper.