Odd ordinances: Sit down and shush!

Odd ordinances: Sit down and shush!

You know you hate it.

It's Friday night, and you go to Beverly Cinema to see Inception. You take your place near the middle of the theater -- not too far from the screen, but not close enough to leave you with a crimped neck and a crooked spine for that $9 you dropped on the ticket. You've got your buttered popcorn and your large Serria Mist, which only after purchase did you realize was way too big. The seat is a little worn down, and you think you saw a Milk Dud ground into the material, but give it time -- you'll find a comfortable position for the 2-hour adventure as Leo DiCaprio leads you through the streets of his dreams. You're in movie mode, and only the credits can snap you back to reality.

And then it happens. Just when you're settled in and the film starts rolling, the burly gentleman in the aisle decides he sees a comfy position just inside yours. You do the awkward knee-to-butt dance as you try to avoid contact with each other like both of you have a contagious disease. By the time it's all said and done, there's a handful of popcorn scattered on the ground and your Sierra Mist is shimmying its way out of the cupholder. And in that five seconds, you just missed an important plot point. At least, you're sure you did.

An hour later, that too-large Serria Mist succumbs to gravity and you find yourself in a compromised position. Do you get up and do the scooch all the way down the aisle? Or do you wait until the movie is over?

Well, the Champaign municipal code has a suggestion for you: wait. Don't interrupt the other movie-goers. And that goes for plays and other stage performances, too.

As a matter of fact, it's illegal in Champaign to remain standing during a performance.

According to Ch. 6, Sec. 91, of the Champaign municipal code, "No person, except ushers or other theater employees, shall be permitted to remain standing in a hall or room in which a performance is presented during the time of such performance."

Of course the word "remain" being thrown in there leads me to believe this only applies to people who refuse to sit down. I just wonder who thought it necessary to make sure the code of ordinances addresses jerks.

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adams wrote on July 21, 2010 at 1:07 pm

I don't know the legislative history, so I can't say for sure who thought this was necessary. I do note that 6-92 and 6-93 address fire-safety issues, so it is reasonable to assume that 6-91 also addresses a fire-safety issue.

My guess is that this ordinance is designed to outlaw the sale of standing-room-only tickets.