Sunday, February 20, 2011

Popcorn critics overwhelm murder critics after cinema shooting in Riga

At the very end of a showing of the film "Black Swan" Saturday evening, February 19, at the Citadele Cinemas multiplex in Riga, a man was shot and killed by another man. The victim had apparently objected to the shooter's loud munching of popcorn and possibly other noisy behavior. The man who was shot died in the presence of his teenage or possibly younger daughter. The alleged shooter is rumored to have been a graduate student of law, licenced to carry the murder weapon. He was subdued by other moviegoers and taken into custody by police.
The incident has generated hundreds of comments on Latvia's main internet news portals:  apollo.lv, delfi.lv and tvnet.lv. The main theme of these comments was ...popcorn. Not murder, not the batshit alleged murderer, but popcorn eating in movie theaters as a degenerate American habit polluting Latvian cinema culture.
In numerous comments, popcorn eaters are called pigs, hogs, animals and other epithets and the practice of snacking while watching films as a degenerate practice imported from a depraved and degenerate American "subculture". Rather than expressing shock and dismay that a psychopath (who like most moviegoers, likes popcorn) can bring a loaded weapon into a movie theater and fire three shots at someone who scolds him for eating loudly, the commentators (at last look, there were around 750 comments on one of the apollo.lv stories on the shooting) carry on and on about how they are disgusted by popcorn munchers, how it is uncivilized and depraved to eat at the cinema, that only pigs and barnyard creatures do so, etc. etc.
What is amazing about these comments is the ignorance, provincialism and bizarre hypersensitivity of commentators. Calling the US and other western societies with a higher standard of living and quality of life "degenerate" is almost a knee-jerk reaction in the Latvian internet "commentsphere". One only wonders why we are not overrun by refugees from the US and  Western Europe, fleeing the horrors of cinema popcorn and snacks.
In my experience (and I do share a big popcorn with my son when we go to a film), the sound level of most films at Citadele drowns out any munching sounds (people with steel teeth would have to be eating rocks to be noticeably heard above the soundtrack). There are long lines at the popcorn and snack stands on weekend nights, so it seems that most people take snacks to the movies in Riga and don't treat the movie theater like a church or library, which are places of traditional or enforced absolute silence.
Very few commentators look to the real issue -- what was an armed wacko psychopath doing in a crowded theater? What about gun laws and security? Fewer commentators, still address the issue of the weird provincial drivel making up most of the other comments. Not one WTF on this issue...What kind of people and society is this, 20 years after independence, 7 years after joining the European Union? I am sure someone will say that this is typical for internet commentators in Latvia.  That is neither an excuse nor a mere observation, it defines the problem.
And yes, I know,  googling "movie theater shooting" gets a number of results, many of them concerning incidents in the US, which is only more than a hundred times bigger in terms of population than Latvia. 

18 comments:

Andris said...

Great comment on our society. I cannot understand myself why people concentrate on popcorn not on fact that society has reached kind of edge of humanity. It doesnt matter - crisis, jealously, mental illness or anything else. and even if there was a reason for their conflict besides popcorn. People shoot each other to death in cinema. Thats sick.

PhotoRiga said...

Kopumā piekrītu rakstā paustajai domai, arī mani šokē, ka cilvēki vairāk šūmējas par popkorna ēšanas tradīciju, nevis par faktu, ka kāds par to tiek nošauts. Mani pašu gan nebūt nesajūsmina popkorna graušana kino, kas filmas klusākajās vietās tomēr mēdz traucēt, taču tāds naids kā tajos interneta komentāros, būtu relatīvi "adekvāts" varbūt vienīgi tad, ja tie popkorna ēdāji pārējos regulāri un ar nolūku apvemtu (taisnības labad gan jāpiebilst, ka ir gadījies novērot subjektus, kas tiešām apmētā citus skatītājus ar popkornu, bet tas ir bijis tikai 1 gadījums).
Tomēr ir arī lietas, kam nepiekrītu. Tas, ka ASV ir augsts dzīves līmenis, nav nekāds pierādījums, ka tās masu kultūra lielā daļā izpausmju nav idiotiska (Kažam vajadzētu paskatīties komēdiju "Idiokrātija", kur pati Holivuda ierēc un diezgan varbūt pat precīzi prognozē, kur šādā veidā cilvēce var nonākt). Vai par gudru ir dēvējama tauta, no kuras, saskaņā ar kādu nesenu socioloģisko aptauju, vairums cilvēku vispār nezin, kas ir Ziemeļkoreja (pat pašu politiķu deklarētais "viens no lielākajiem draudiem pasaules drošībai")? Galu galā, ne jau tikai popkorna ēšana kino, bet arī šaujamieroču brīva izplatība, nēsāšana un pielietošana starp civilajiem, ir tieši amerikāņu dzīvesveida pazīme... Tā kā, ja komentētāji gribēja "grūst" virsū amerikāņu kultūrai, tad vajadzēja to darīt tieši šajā aspektā, kas būtu īsti vietā un diez vai pat Kažam atrastos, ko iebilst :)

Antonija said...

I believe the reaction is quite normal, though not very productive - this shocking and unprecedented incident is absolutely incomprehensible for Latvian society where people do not get shot in crowded places on regular basis. It is impossible to understand why such things are happening, nevertheless we are trying to figure out why the shooter killed the popcorn eater. And the simplest answer is - because the shooter couldn't stand the munching sound. Everyone who does not enjoy popcorn knows how irritating can be this subtle yet distinct noise. And a lot of people conclude that reason of this violent and absurd act is the popcorn eating tradition. I must add - foreign tradition, and foreign traditions and foreigners are the first to blame when something bad happens. In all societies.

Anonymous said...

@Andris, Yes mabe this society is reaching the edges . . . maybe because people care less, polarise everything, loose the context. Or maybe the internet is full of them, and the rest is doing OK. After all, the internet has become an ego cafe, a different reality.

Anonymous said...

The root of the problem is not popcorn, it is intolerance. Latvians are stubborn savages - if you know that munching disgust you don't go to a cinema, you can't enjoy it! You stay home watch dvds instead or find other occupation but you don't go to a cinema again and again expecting to see people with taped mouths and then start a war because it isn't your way. Intolerance shines through pretty much everywhere, the cinema shooting is just an extreme outcome of it.

Anonymous said...

This is the society that blames victims - be it rape, domestic violence, pocketlifting or shooting as in this case. It sucks, but what can we do? What can I as an individual do? The level of tolerance is unbelievably low.

BuyWoWAccounts said...

That is such an alarming incident. It is so unreasonable and strange to shot a fellow citizen just for eating popcorn too loudly.

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Keita said...

Maybe such comments in local internet newspaper arise from the fact that people are not able to look far beyond but popcorn. they stack on the point they can understand most, and mainly this is about the lack of humanity in general..../ I feel more anger coming out from us as the nation. And that anger is everywhere, in the comments, tweets...Seems that every good thought need to be protected and recorded in the Red Data List:)

Kārlis Streips said...

@ buywowaccounts: It was even worse -- the guy who got shot didn't get shot for munching popcorn, he got shot for objecting to the other guy munching popcorn. To me this is basically macho bullshit. What on earth would possess someone to bring a loaded gun into a cinema in the first place? Did the person think that a character from the film would come leaping out at him? (True, that's not as likely in a film about ballet dancers as in one with more, um, vigorous subject matter, but still.) The guy who got shot was a financial specialist with four children, the one who was with him at the cinema having been 14 years old, I believe. The guy who did the shooting was a legal specialist about whom, as is typical in cases of this type, everyone interviewed about him said something along the lines of "Oh, what a nice and serious guy, we just can't BELIEVE that he would do something like that." And yadda, yadda, yadda. Lost in all of the babble about how gosh, if you don't let people have guns, only criminals will have guns is one simple fact: There is no function for a gun whatsoever other than to harm another being, whether a bunny rabbit or Bambi deer in the forest, or a person in a cinema who has complained about your loud behavior, or else to practice for such an event. One telling element in this is something that I read in the paper today -- in Britain, where gun restrictions are tight, it is far more likely than in countries with loose gun rules for a robber to enter a house when someone is at home. Perhaps, but if no one in the equation has a gun, it is very much more likely that no one will be injured fatally. Add to that the American fact that some ridiculous proportion of gun deaths is someone in a household accidentally killing someone else in the same household, and you clearly see that Houston, we have a problem. And it is a conundrum.

JDHURF said...

It is a truly sick and degenerate society that is more concerned about the eating of popcorn in a theater than the crazed, cold-blooded murder of a man eating popcorn at a movie with his child. That is truly sick and depraved. An evil ethical calculus sent spinning into delirium.

JDHURF said...

From what I've read, however, it was the popcorn eater who did the shooting:

"We're obliged to a Latvian reader for clarifying that the shooter was actually the one eating crisps in a disorderly fashion when the victim complained. The former waited until the end of the movie before making his fatal move, at which point he was overpowered by other audience members until cops arrived. We have no information on the flavour of the crisps."

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/02/21/popcorn_slaying/

My previous comments retain their relevance. Anyone more concerned about the eating of popcorn than cold-blooded murder is pathological.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Juris for writing something on this - this certainly shows what is wrong here but also displays the underlying tension one often feels here. Whether or not pop corn eating is a bad western behaviour, I am sure Latvia contributes it's own, sadly it makes us look like fools over here. I got the story via a British friend living in Peterborough, U.K. who during the day there went into a local supermarket run and manned by Latvian emigres of recent years...and they were shocked.. no wonder people think twice moving back... This harms us internationally more than we need...but hurts all of us living here and sends a very stark message that we need get to grip with things.

John Shera said...

My grandmother relocated back to her home town of Ikskile about 10 years ago. She used her American savings to invest in Latvian property. She was taking real steps in trying to do her part in rebuilding Latvia after the Soviet occupation.
One day, she was hospitalized for a minor reason. She passed away suddenly in the care of the hospital. She has three official death certificates each listing a different time and cause of death. Her property was scooped up by various workers and local family members. To date, the circumstances of her death have been unexplored by Latvian authorities.
This popcorn shooting incident does not surprise me from such a lawless country.

Anonymous said...

Eurotrash

Anonymous said...

Perhaps a bit of explanation can be given by this... look up "misophonia". As a sufferer of misophonia who has recently got WAY too close to a clinical psychopath, this incident gives me pause.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps a bit of explanation can be given by this... look up "misophonia". As a sufferer of misophonia who has recently got WAY too close to a clinical psychopath, this incident gives me pause.

Ilms said...

I have to admit that on Latvian websites I don't even pay attention to ANY and ALL comments, because, unfortunately, as stated in the post, the main commentators are either degenerates or freaks with illusions-of-grandeur that they're penis might grow a few inches after winning a ''comments-war'' with a similar fool of exact proportions. The fact that some retard has the audacity to shoot someone who in all-rights was probably right is just ridiculous and I hope he gets to go to one of our ''nice'' prisons for a bit of re-education.

Amals87 said...

I have to admit that on Latvian websites I don't even pay attention to ANY and ALL comments, because, unfortunately, as stated in the post, the main commentators are either degenerates or freaks with illusions-of-grandeur that they're penis might grow a few inches after winning a ''comments-war'' with a similar fool of exact proportions. The fact that some retard has the audacity to shoot someone who in all-rights was probably right is just ridiculous and I hope he gets to go to one of our ''nice'' prisons for a bit of re-education.