Sunday, December 07, 2008


The very first missingpoints posts (even before the mailing list) were about "blaming victims" and "punishing the innocent." I absolutely hate it when cops blame a rape victim's boyfriend (for not accompanying her home) or her manner of dressing instead of the actual perpetrator. I hate it when city councils pass curfew ordinances to "prevent criminality." The latter, in particular, assumes preemptively that the youth they want to keep at home will commit crimes. 

Yesterday at Glorietta 1 I encountered a policy that infuriated me. I was accused of being a movie pirate because I had a digital camera. Below is the letter of complaint I wrote to Ayala Cinemas.

I write to express my disappointment at a policy enforced in your cinemas regarding the possession of digital cameras.

A companion and I were supposed to watch the 5:50pm screening of “Four Christmases” at Glorietta 1 last Saturday, 6 December 2008. As our bags were being inspected at the entrance the usher noticed my digital video camera, which was in my companion’s backpack. The usher asked if it was a digicam and we told her yes. We were then informed that it was Ayala Cinema’s policy to disallow digicams and that we had to leave it at the Customer Service counter if we wanted to enter the theater.

I went to the Customer Service counter and told the staffer present that I wasn’t a movie pirate. I had no intention of filming or taking pictures of any part of the film or the theater. I just had the camera with me because I needed it for a prior event. Besides, I didn’t want to leave a relatively expensive gadget with them. The Customer Service representative replied that it was the theater’s policy. I told them I wouldn’t stand for it and asked for a refund instead.

A few minutes later, I texted ________ of your Marketing Department (whom I personally know). She informed me that this is not a new policy and that it is a preventive measure being done in cooperation with the film distributors. I told her that the policy was insulting to your patrons since it preemptively accuses them of being video pirates.

I am aware that taking pictures or videos inside the cinema is prohibited. Your policy assumes that I am too stupid to understand that or that I would willingly flaunt the rules in order to obtain a copy of the film being shown, hence the need to sequester my possessions. I understand that this is a preventive measure on your part but unlike frisking and bag searches at mall entrances (which are inconveniences, too), leaving my camera at your Customer Service counter has NO ACTUAL BENEFIT TO ME. A bag search assures me that everyone else in the mall isn’t carrying a gun or explosives. A “no digicam” policy assures me of nothing.

You are simply passing your film distributors’ problems on to your customers.

In fact you are punishing the very people who are supporting films by watching them in theaters. Instead of treating us with courtesy and respect, your policy automatically ASSUMES WE ARE UP TO NO GOOD by mere possession of a camera.

I would like to suggest that a less insulting policy be adopted. Continue with the bag searches but, upon finding cameras, just have the ushers remind patrons that taking pictures or videos is prohibited. Post signs that the cinema staff has the right to ask anyone caught to leave. This, I believe, is a happy mean that respects the wishes of film distributors while acknowledging that your patrons are law-abiding citizens (unless proven otherwise).

Until such a policy is adopted, I will not patronize Ayala Cinemas and will encourage everyone else I know to do the same.

Anybody else encounter something similar at any other movie theater? I think it's about time we let them know that we should not be treated like potential criminals. 

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