Ms. 35 #11: Cinema Snoozing

January 4th 2017

Ms. 35 offers helpful advice and answers to your etiquette questions related to NYC's moving image culture. Have a burning question about navigating the exciting world of New York City moviegoing? Unsure of how to conduct yourself during a communal experience? Feel like you're… in the dark? Send your inquiries to !

Dear Ms. 35,

How does Ms. 35 feel about sleeping at the movies? I feel bad because I’ve paid money to see this rare Jean-Pierre Leaud film or whatever, but then I’ll take a 10 minute snooze 45 minutes into the picture. Also, waking up snorers (or just friends who’ve fallen asleep): yea or nay?


Snoozin’ for a Bruisin’

Dear Snoozin’,

As we enter the new year, Ms. 35 has an important Public Service Resolution to make: it’s time to start talking, honestly, about falling asleep at the movies. “Dozing Off,” or “D.O.” as it’s also known, is far more common than people realize. Experts estimate that D.O. can affect one in three cinemagoers in their lifetime.

No one knows when, or how, D.O. can strike—it could be during an action-packed first-run release, or a Lubitsch gaiety that clocks in just under 70 minutes. Contrary to popular belief, its victims are not limited to attendees of experimental tone poems and “midnight” movies, or tolerant-but-uninterested significant others, dragged along as warm body/stranger-buffer.

Commonplace though it may be, the shame of assing out mid-movie (in public) has forestalled any attempt at honest dialogue. Ms. 35 is here to throw back the curtain and bring this much-maligned, universal scourge out of the shadows and into the unflinching light of day.

Any one of us could fall into the arms of Morpheus at the slightest provocation—and boy are there provocations! The daily indignities experienced by New Yorkers would lay out a weaker sort: between brutal work schedules, navigating a rapidly-declining public transit system, and “cocktail flu,” it’s a wonder any of us make it through a movie at all.

Yet the stigma lingers, like the stubborn odor of spilled beer at a microcinema. Why the lingering? Why the shame? Perhaps it’s the indignity of non-engagement, the tacit admission you weren’t committed enough to fend off a little siesta. Woe be to the cineaste who, upon waking, has lost the thread of the film and ensuing discussion. Dozing Off is as ubiquitous as dandruff or Restless Leg, and what kind of an asshole would call someone out for an involuntary twitch or flake? This napping contrition is little more than a construct, and surely nothing to feel bad about. Even Ms. 35, for all her vigilance, has sawed a few logs in her day.

The next time your trusted companion or row-mate boards the express bus to Slumberland, take up the mein of Saint Elijah (Patron Saint of Sleep). Extend grace to those of us who are a little tuckered out, and a discrete shoulder chuck to anyone wheezing within an arm’s length. The Cinema Snoozer has enough problems already—missing a movie, waking up—and that momentary repose could be just what they need. As to any crucial plot points you may have missed, take heart: those self-deleted scenes will no doubt be explained afterward, in the lobby, by any number of overeager armchair experts.

See you at the movies,

Ms. 35


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