Show Me the Money

Jerry Maguire (played by Tom Cruise in the film of the same name) is a high profile sports agent whose mission statement diverges from his company’s chosen path.

Cover of "Jerry Maguire"

Cover of Jerry Maguire

Jerry feels agents should develop personal relationships with their clients. For that he is fired. Only one client stays with Jerry, pro football player Rod Tidwell (Cuba Gooding, Jr.).

The agency remained all about the money.

While watching the news as I walked on the treadmill at the gym earlier this week, I heard a news anchor ask viewers to tweet their opinions about allowing texting in theaters.

Seriously? Aren’t we self-absorbed enough already? We should be beyond the narcissism of the “Me” generation by now, but it seems we are more into “Me” than ever.

It’s not as if texting in theaters hasn’t been occurring already. It’s just more blatant now, encouraging even more moviegoers to join in.

Pop philosophy: if everybody else is doing it, why not me, too?

What’s pushing this movement by theaters is the decline in box office sales. Ever mindful of the dollar sign in bottom line, theaters bend over backwards to give customers what they want, no matter what that is. The risk of the movie-going public frequenting another theater that won’t hassle them is great enough to fudge the unwritten no-texting-during-the-film rule.

There was a time when if you so much as whispered too loudly while a film was on, the usher would issue a warning. After that you were asked to leave and shown the door. Theaters wanted to provide a pleasant experience so people would come back, often. Discourteous disruptions might send patrons elsewhere. It was about the money then, too, but the entire audience was taken into consideration: the good of the few sacrificed for the good of the many (a sacrifice made by Dr. Spock – Leonard Nimoy – in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan).

Today, however, it’s about nothing BUT the money.

And there are, of course, fewer movie-goers to fight over for a number of reasons, not the least of which are ticket prices and the outrageous charges for those movie staples: popcorn, candy, and drinks. Theatres, like restaurants, are not just reluctant but downright afraid to say boo to anyone, about anything, for fear of bad press, or worse, being sued for trampling on the rights of those who want to do whatever it is they want to do – wherever, and whenever, they want to do it. Even the threat of litigation has proved as a good way to make money as many will offer to settle a suit out of court just to minimize bad press.

If the disruption of a phone’s display light in otherwise darkened surroundings poses a problem, too bad for you. Theaters are now willing to compromise on this issue and set aside seating for those who want to text.

And won’t that be swell.

Instead of turning phones off when they enter the theater or apologizing for using them when confronted, people get defensive. Angry, even.

They have rights, you know, and theirs take precedence. It’s none of our business what they do. Or when. Or where.

Is it so hard to go two hours without toying with our phones? Without being connected and in need of dispensing our wisdom and enlightenment to others without interruption? Just because this capability doesn’t mean we have to avail ourselves of it every minute of every day.

What is everyone so afraid of?

I know what theaters are afraid of – losing part of their diminishing audience. Theaters are looking for new ways to reel audiences in – anything to keep what few bucks there are these days flowing their way.

It’s not that I can’t sympathize. It’s tough to get people into the theaters when Netflix delivers movies to your door for a lot less than it costs to see them at the theater. It’s a convenience that can’t be matched. And you can pay extra to view them on your own television now, too. Ah, the comfort of home video – and popcorn to boot.

Still, it’s fun to go out to a movie.

But let’s face it – lost revenue is not an option for which anyone wants to settle. If people keep complaining about the sanction on texting in theaters, a section will be designated for it in the hope it shuts everyone else up and keeps as many people as possible coming back.

The bigger problem is that we don’t know how to be ourselves anymore, how to develop ideas of our own, on our own. And really, how could we – we don’t take the time to
think in quiet spaces. To think for ourselves, by ourselves.

Silence and stillness have become anathema, things to be eschewed rather than valued.

It’s tough to voice complaints in this era where political correctness reigns lest we be accused of trampling on the rights of others. Unfortunately, those rights include the right to be rude, inconsiderate, thoughtless, nit-picky, and above all, to indulge in narcissism.

It’s a situation that’s bound to get worse because there seems to be nothing we won’t do for the fame, the glory, the money.

 

Sports figures are people, too. That’s what Jerry’s been trying to say. They are not just clients from which agencies can get rich.

“This is what you’re gonna do for me, Jerry,” Rod tells him, “It’s a family motto.”

“What can I do for you, Rod?”

“Show me the money.”

“Show you the money.”

“Congratulations, Jerry. You’re still my agent.”

It’s still about the money – but with the hug Jerry and Rod give each other at the end, everyone can see it’s so much more than that.

 

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