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Chinese cinemas’ punishment for using mobile phones is cruel and hilarious

Posted by
Nick Pope
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When it comes to classic cinema annoyances, glare-emitting mobile phones are up there with endless chatter, rampaging kids and men wearing top hats on their afros.

But even with that in mind, we think this might be going a little too far.

In a bid to stop incessant mobile phone usage during films, movie theatres in China have started zapping offenders with laser beams.

Yep, you read that right.

The approach often varies, but it’s the same general idea: while a movie plays, ushers equipped with laser pointers scan the audience from an elevated station. When they spot an illuminated mobile, they point the lasers at them until they shamefully surrender. We can only assume they wiggle the light around on the phone user's face or phone screen until it becomes so annoying they submit.

Which is hilarious to imagine.

“It’s usually only a small fraction of the audience that we have to deal with,” said Wang Chen, an employee in the theater affairs department at the Shanghai Grand Theater. “They can’t help themselves. So we try to give them a gentle reminder, so they know what they’re doing.”

It’s nothing new in the Chinese arts field, where laser pointers have to been used to pick out distracted theatre-goers for years. They’re even utilised at plays and opera shows.

When Italian mezzo soprano Giuseppina Piunti was asked if the lasers were bothersome to performers, he said: “No, it’s very smart, very fast, very effective. They should use the lasers all over the world. I can see the lasers from the stage, but it’s much less distracting than the flash cameras, and the ushers running up and down the aisles.”

In truth, this really doesn't seem like a bad idea. Now, if only there was a way to shame people into not having abnormally large heads - then we'd be living in cinematic paradise.