After an interregnum of two full years, I finally went to a movie: Children of Men.

Fingers hold up ticket stub labelled CHILDREN OF*RWC/DVS* against a tiled wall

Children of*RWC/DVS*

I had previously spent gruelling years going to every MoPixed movie that played in Toronto (save for two) and writing detailed reviews that were almost completely ignored. Every third visit to the cinema chain found another equipment breakdown, another arsehole staffmember calling me rude for reporting the broken equipment, and, later, a functionary and a vice-president actually calling me up to complain about what a cunt I was, in so many words.

And I had no choice but to file a privacy complaint concerning the chain’s demand that we hand over ID just to borrow caption reflectors and description headsets that had no cash value that couldn’t be used outside a dozen of its own theatres. And every movie had a captioning or description error.

These years destroyed whatever pleasure I had ever had in going to the movies. I don’t even really like watching discs at home, though I do it. Every time I’ve run across a movie I wanted to see, I thought of WGBH ignoring me or, separately, actively trying to harm me; getting yelled at by the functionary and executive and lectured by floor staff; and schlepping way the fuck out to these goddamned movie houses to watch some piece of shit. But mostly I thought of all the people who made me miserable. I flashed on their faces. (The chain has since been sold; did my tormentors get golden parachutes?)

I went stag tonight and, after much thought, decided it was worth a try. But no fucking way was I going downtown. I went to Scarborough instead (not hard to get to via subway), where I’d never had an argument and where the equipment almost never broke down. I was really quite uneasy. I resolutely didn’t bring a notebook; taking notes at a movie makes it impossible to enjoy. I decided not to go for captioning, because that’s kind of coin of the realm by now, whereas the description writers at WGBH simply cannot be beat. (Shop around. Compare. Prove me wrong.)

I asked for a headset and, after being initially offered a reflector, the lady behind the desk just handed one over like none of that privacy unpleasantness had ever happened. I tried duct-taping the too-bright red LED (another deterrent) and it worked.

Four minutes into the movie and, first of all, I was amazed how much better things look on the big screen (not a myth, I had forgotten) and I was just very moved by the lovingly-crafted descriptions, read, almost as usual, by Miles Neff. It’s like those news segments where the person overcomes a tragic disability and gets to dance again, or whatever. Except here it is overcoming other people’s getting in my way of enjoying accessibility.

WGBH once told me I couldn’t talk to its staff because this was their life’s work (false, given the staff I knew personally). This is my goddamned life’s work. No matter what else one may think, I am an honest, teetotaling vegan who works for disabled people. I have reason to be proud, as I have to remind even myself sometimes.

I dropped off the headset no problem, and went to the can, and it finally dawned on me that I couldn’t just walk out of there. I had the guy summon the lady behind the desk, forcing me to get very committed to my plan while I waited. With some hesitation, I told her this was the first movie I’d seen in two years. I’d been to all the other locations and something always happened. I told her I’d never had an argument here, and maybe now I have a safe place to watch movies again. I thanked her and managed not to cry and shook her hand and went on home.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2007.01.11 23:33. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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None. I quit.

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