POP: (People Opposed to Popcorn)

Monday, 4 October 2010


Last week Walee and I went to a little arts cinema down the road.

We watched a Chinese film called A woman, a gun and a noodle shop in a tiny, 30-seater theatre. The film had no music, and the atmosphere relied heavily on the natural sound of the Chinese desert; the wind, the animal cries, the squeaking of distant cart wheels. There were 3 other people in the cinema, sat in the row behind us.
One of them, an old woman, had a bucket of popcorn.

Something dramatic happened in the film's fictional village. The action died down, and we were left contemplating the harsh but eerily beautiful red landscape that surrounded it.

Rustle rustle rustle.

The fact that there was no music gave us time to think about the loneliness of the location, and the director's heavy use of symbolism.

Crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch.

I listened to the wind, and tried to imagine being alone on those alien mountains, looking out over that desolate view.

Crunch...... CRUNCH. Crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch. Gulp. Crunch crunch crunch. Rustle rustle rustle. Crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch.

I turned around. She didn't notice me looking at her, but was staring wide-eyed at the screen and nonchalantly extending another palmful of popcorn towards her gaping face.

Chew chew chew, Crunch crunch crunch. Clack clack clack. GULP.

My blood level rose, my ears became hot, and my fingers turned white as I clutched the seat. 'Calm down', I thought to myself, 'stop being a nutjob... that woman is probably someone's grandmother'
I tried to ignore it.


At this point in the film, I'm seeing that desert landscape, but I'm not there anymore. My mind is taking savage pleasure out of indulging in angry fantasies; I'm snatching the bucket of popcorn out of the old lady's hands, pouring it into her perm, and then walking out of the cinema.

Crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch. klak yack smack klack (a kernel is stuck in her dentures) KLACK SLURP SMACK SMACK SMACK.

The film is gone now. I'm stomping the popcorn down her throat, standing on the seat in front of her, launching into a backflip with the intent of smashing the underside of her hairy chin with my heel, I'm jamming the stripy popcorn bucket down over her face and then punching it repeatedly. Her husband gets up to intervene but he's not quick enough; i've smashed him over the head with his own walking stick and now he's had the bucket treatment too. They're both squirming around on the floor, trying to get the buckets off their heads, and i'm taking running kicks at those red and white stripes.


I clutch the chair tighter, stopping myself from shouting out loud. The film is still rolling, I'm still sat in my seat, and the savagery of my fantasies force me to check myself:
Why does such a stupid little thing make me so angry?

I have to confess that it's not just confined to cinemas, either. Trains, buses, planes; being stuck anywhere and having to watch and listen to somebody eat never fails to get my blood level rising. Especially the unaware, unfocused chewing of someone who is eating instinctively; chewing the cud like a grazing cow, gumming a banana like a gormless ape.

Perhaps it's something rooted in my childhood. Perhaps my first angry experience took place whilst some bloke stood nearby, happily munching on an apple.

But why is popcorn sold in cinemas? Just to make money? Why does it have to be the crunchiest and most infinitely endlessly edible of snacks? Considering that people rarely eat popcorn at home, who decided that it has to be eaten in the cinema? Why can't people sit down for 90 minutes without having to fill their faces? Why don't cinemas just build kermodes into the seats, so people can eat, drink, digest, piss and shit like factory farmed pigs? Why are people stupid enough to pay 10 dollars for what is essentially a bucket of puffed dust ? Does it annoy anybody else on this planet, or is it just me? Surely, in a sane world, I would have had the god-given right to punch that old lady in the face?