Dear PoPville – Security Concern at Local Movie Theater

Photo by PoPville flickr user Nikoo’s Photos

Dear PoPville,

On Saturday, July 27, 2012, my partner and I decided to go to the Landmark E-Street Cinema in Washington, DC, on the Opening Day for the movie “Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry.” We bought tickets for the 5:30 PM showing.

The movie “Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry” is about Ai Weiwei, the Chinese artist and creator of the famous “Bird’s Nest” that was the focal point of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Ai Weiwei has been under intense scrutiny by the Chinese government for how he uses his art to draw attention to the abuses of freedoms and human rights in China. For me personally, I believe the movie is incredibly well produced. I felt myself being drawn into the story to the point where I was beginning to experience Ai Weiwei’s living experience of being under constant surveillance by his own government. The movie is not only an excellent look inside the daily life of someone who dares to criticize the Chinese government, but on what it means to live in a society that does not value freedom of expression and speech.

About a hour into the movie, a woman came into our darkened theater, and went the opposite side of the room from the door, squatted down, and manipulated something in a large bag. She then stood up, placed the bag into an empty seat next to where we were sitting and quickly ran out of the theater. Then, a minute later, she re-entered the theater, retrieved the the bag again, went back to the side wall, manipulated something inside the bag again, and then replaced the bag again in the seat next to us. She then ran out of the theater for the second time.

Continues after the jump.

My partner said to me that he felt uncomfortable with this, especially given the subject of the movie. I immediately got up to go get a theater manager to report this suspicious activity. I was met in the lobby by a young woman, who had already left the theater ahead of me to report her own concerns about this. This young woman was describing what she saw happening. To her, she could see that the strange woman was playing with a computer or some other electronic device. Upon hearing this, my anxiety really began to rise. I explained to the theater attendant that we needed a manger to address this immediately. I explained how uncomfortable I was with this since this was a politically charged movie.

Not only was I being extra aware of my surroundings following the recent theater shootings in Aurora, Colorado, but I also live in a city where I am being constantly bombarded by messages on buses, metro trains, at airports, and whenever I enter a federal building to report bags that are left unattended. I also could not help but think, with the politically sensitive subject matter of the movie, with this being the movie’s opening day, that perhaps someone wanted to shut-down this film through some sort of terrorist act. A critic might think I was being paranoid, but the film is about Chinese government suppression of dissidents and is intensely graphic at points.

The theater staff did not seem to be prepared to handle such a complaint. Staff hurried around, but no manager arrived and the staff member we were speaking to did not want to leave his post. Eventually I was told that someone had gone in to retrieve the bag. Feeling satisfied that someone was finally doing something about this, I returned to the particular theater where the movie was being shown only to meet another staff member outside the door who told me that they were waiting for the owner to show up first. Wondering if this bag contained a bomb, I thought that the owner was not about to show up. So I re-entered the theater and told my partner we needed to leave immediately.

Once outside the E-Street Cinema, when I had cell phone coverage again, I began to call 911 to report a safety threat. The manager finally met me outside on the sidewalk with the woman who owned the bag. I stopped calling 911 and explained how I felt the E-Street cinema was not taking its customer’s security concerns seriously enough. It also concerned me that the owner of the bag was an Asian woman and I could not help but wonder if this was someone sent by the Chinese government to sabotage this film on its opening day in Washington, DC.

It was explained to me that this woman frequents the E-Street Cinema all the time, as if she must therefore be harmless. I looked right at her and said, “You have got to be the stupidest person in the world for what you did.” Arguably, I was so shaken by the event that I could not easily accept the manager’s explanations as a solution to what happened. The woman took great offense at my comment, as did the manager of the E-Street Cinema. He said I could not talk to his customers this way. Eventually I just walked away.

This manager obviously does not take the security concerns of his customers seriously, especially with the recent event in Aurora, Colorado. Nor does he understand the concern someone might have of an unattended bag left by a suspicious person in a dark theatre.

115 Comment

  • T

    Given the activity you described, I’d say you absolutely did the right thing. The only thing I like to think I would have done differently is immediately calling the police after notifying the theater staff (it’s not clear from your story how much time had elapsed before you went outside and attempted to do so).

  • So she was offended you called her the stupidest person in the world? Shocking.

  • Breaking out the popcorn…

  • Solution: Wait for controversial movies to make it onto DVD if you are easily scared. That way, no-one’s sensitivity gets offended. Problem Solved.

    • What do you mean ‘easily scared’? The woman’s behavior was extremely suspicious. I’m not afraid of much but if a woman came into a theatre, placed a bag next to me and ran out, alarm bells would be going off for me.

      • Just because of an event that occurred in Colorado? Since 9-11 have you not been in any high-rise buildings? We’ve got to manage our fears, the minute they take over, we’re living in a panicked society…

        I’d complain about the disturbance of the lady constantly walking in and out of the movie, but relating it to the Colorado Incident is a bit extreme at this point.

        • 1. High-rise buildings are not suspicious. Someone fooling around with a large bag of electronic equipment and then running away from it in an enclosed space is very suspicious.

          2. Copycat crimes happen shortly after events like the Aurora shootings. So it’s not unreasonable to be on high alert right now.

        • The Colorado shootings have no bearing on my assessment.

    • The OP’s reaction was entirely appropriate. We live in a city that is (and has been) a target for terrorists. If someone is doing something suspicious like the description he gave, alarm bells should go off. Your reaction, on the other hand, is condescending and unnecessary.

  • Way to go!
    Sad that the manager cared more about one customer’s feelings than the safety of the theater.

    I’m glad that my first reaction when reading this was that I thought it was just someone setting up a camera to pirate the movie and not a bomb.

    • Aha! That makes a lot of sense actually. And it also may explain the slow reaction by the theatre employees for someone they admit is a “regular”. In my limited experience with piraters, they tend to throw some cash or freebies at the theatre employees to look the other way while they’re recording.

      • That was my thought too, especially given the part where the other patron saw a computer/electronic device.

    • tonyr

      Look out for bootleg copies of “Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry” flooding the market.

  • So what was her explanation? Seem to gloss over that part.

    I would have certainly been suspicious, for all the reasons you lay out above, and would have taken similar action.

  • It’s amazing that we live in a city so fueled by fear and paranoia.

    • This. People need to lighten up – there is no constant threat.

      • Honestly, do either of you have any idea the lengths the Chinese government will go to supress Mr. Ai’s message? The guy was kidnapped and thrown into solitary for months just for making political statements.

        Call it whatever you want, but for those who pay attention to the geopolitics outside of the DC bubble, the writer’s reaction seems not so much paranoid as acutely aware of reality.

        • You honestly think the chinese government would get involved in carrying out terrorist bombings in the US capital as a way of protesting an art house movie?

          Think about how absurd that is. Seriously.

          • because china has such a clean record.

          • You took the words out of my mouth. Anonny’s statement is actually hilarious.

          • The Chinese government directly, no. But there are enough sycophantic useful idiots out there that it’s not beyond the realm of possibility for some nutjob to decide they needed to take action.

            Is it too much to ask a movie theatre manager to check out something suspicious in the middle of a politically charged film? The author’s posting is as much an indictment of the lackadasical management response as it is a sad commentary on the world in which we live.

          • Which other terrorists attacks on US soil has the chinese government been implicated in that you are thinking of? Specifics please.

          • There are indeed people who have been killed in broad daylight in DC in foreign entanglements. Don’t be so sure what you can’t imagine might not happen. Not that long ago Iran was working on the Saudi Ambassador, but of course they deny it.

          • Oh wow, color me scared. Can you please reference specific examples please?

          • yeah really. this has to be up there with lightning strikes and volcanic eruptions as wildly implausible ways to go.

          • To the person who asked for examples of terrorist acts taking place in broad daylight in DC…

  • I was with you up until calling the woman the stupidest person in the world…youre lucky you werent calling the police a 2nd time to report being assaulted

  • Hrmm… Being Chinese in a controversial Chinese movie… Clearly a punishable offense in the US.

  • Sounds like you caught a frequent bootlegger.

    However, it also sounds like while your intentions were right, you could have handled things a bit better from when you hung up on 911 till the end of your story. If you thought it was such a substantial concern, why stop calling 911?

    Not sure I buy into the risk of Chinese espionage, but certainly a crazy person without a state sponsor is always a risk no matter what happened in Colorado.

  • I totally agree that you did the right thing. I frequently go to the Landmark E St. Theater, and know that there is now cell phone service that far below ground. So my only other advice would have been to send you friend out front to call the Police at the same time that you were trying to speak to staff.

    In regards to the staff, the large majority of them are about 18 years old, and surely are not mature enough to handle any sort of emergency situation. But the manager should have certainly been more alert and receptive, especially in light of what happened in Aurora. Someone should send this blog post and comments to the owner of the Landmark Theater. They are in definite need of some new training for their staff!

    • Emmaleigh504

      I agree. One person should alert the theater staff while the other calls 911.

      My first thought was bootlegging, but after recent events in Colorado I think calling 911 would be the safest thing to do.

    • Is there some kind of filter I can set on Chrome or Firefox that will block any web page that contains phrases like, “…in light of recent events in Aurora…” or “in a post-9/11 world…” so I can just skip reading paranoid people who are governed by their fears?

  • Maybe she was a Manchurian Candidate.

  • We got to do something about these incontinent Asians coming in and leaving their dirty bags in theaters and rushing to the toilet. They got to go. I’m gonna say that right now. But we also need our own Longtime Residents to take their place too and yell at the screen.

  • Why do I get the feeling that the person who wrote this is the same person who complained about Tynan Coffee and Tea in Columbia Heights when it first opened?

  • Is this what people mean when they talk about “Security theater”?

    • This is why TSA will now set up in theaters and grope you before every movie. Because of scared people who complained about their discomfort… Thanks A Lot FOX News.

  • This is one of the silliest and most paranoid posts I have ever read on PoP.

  • This is disturbing, I just forwarded this post through the customer feedback page on the Landmark website. Does the theater itself have security guards? (I asked this also when I emailed them just now). I never thought about it, but in case of an emergency it would be good to know b/c as someone else noted, cell phone reception is sketchy/nonexistent in those theaters.

  • I believe the movie is incredibly well produced. I felt myself being drawn into the story to the point where I was beginning to experience Ai Weiwei’s living experience of being under constant surveillance by his own government.
    I’m sure after you confronted the “Asian”, they felt similarly.

  • It may not have happened in this instance, but I would wager money that the Chinese government sends agents to this kind of screening. Allow me to relate the following anecdote:

    A few years ago, there was a big Falun Gong/Falun Dafa parade down Constitution Ave, ending at Freedom Plaza. At the time I was working adjacent to Freedom Plaza, and had brought my camera with me to work that day.

    I took about 50 photos of the event and the people and signs in the parade, which I posted on Flickr. After I posted I started receiving some very suspicious comments asking me about my involvement in the parade and how I was related to the parade. All of the comments came from ‘anon’ accounts with no profiles or personal information. I replied that I had no involvement and that I just shot the photos, and the comments ceased.

    As you may know, Falun Gong is a very political organization which has been labeled a threat to the state by the Chinese government.

    I bet there is a lot of spy/foreign agent activity in the city that we are generally unaware of. For example, if you see someone talking on a satellite phone is it almost certain that they are a diplomat or an agent.

    • A Chinese embassy staffer attending a movie is neither strange nor illegal.

      The Chinese spies are busy trying to buy off DOD personnel and contractors.

      The embassy staff are conducting routine surveillance on things in plain sight.

      Seems like a reasonable distinction to me.

    • Maybe it was the Chinese government trying to get intel on your involvement with the parade… or maybe it was some random person who got the impression that you were involved because you posted a lot of pictures of the parade. Who knows, but its a stretch to reach the conclusion you have. Also, you say that they posted from anonymous accounts… like you did to post your comment here. I suppose I should employ your logic and presume that you’re a Chinese spy.

      • Read more closely. I didn’t reach any conclusions whatsoever. I was simply relaying an interesting anecdote.

  • If someone walked into a theater I was attending, put a bag down next to me, fiddled with what was in the bag, and then ran out, I would be suspicious too. I don’t think I would have jumped to the “maybe this is state-sponsorsed terrorism to shut a movie about a dissident down” conclusion that the OP did. But I don’t begrudge him or her for being concerned and bringing those concerns to a manager.
    I don’t think the bag woman was “stupid” for doing what she did. Clueless maybe, but not stupid. I’ll bet that if someone from the theater responds to this, I would not be surprised if the woman with the bag is a homeless person who frequents the theater.

  • You absolutely did the right thing. Anyone else in the theater who saw what was happening and didn’t do anything about it should be ashamed. Anyone who didn’t notice at all needs to be more aware of their surroundings.

    The manager should be embarrassed of his reaction, and that of his staff’s. I’m sorry you had to deal with this during – what you had planned to be – a nice night out at the movies.

    If you see something, say something. Kudos to the OP.

  • Really, because she was asian she was sent by the Chinese government? Ok. So I guess all the fat white people I saw when SuperSize Me came out were sent by McDonalds to sabatoge the show too right?

    • That happened when the film debuted here. Seriously, at Lincoln Theater. Well I guess they weren’t really that fat though.

  • you did the right thing.

  • I’m sure the Chinese government devotes espionage efforts to obscure documentaries playing in foreign capitals. Seriously, racist much?

    • This might be the silliest cry of “Racism!” that I’ve ever seen on this blog. And that’s saying something. Good show.

      • Yet ironically a single reference to “crying ‘racism'” immediately destroys a person’s credibility.

    • naive much is more like it.

      the chinese government has much bigger fish to fry than to set off a bomb in the capitol of a major trading partner over an art house movie.

      i’m guessing the people who think this is plausible have never been to china. the chinese government wants to (1) stay in power and (2) sell as much stuff as possible. that’s just about it. how would bombing a theater (thereby attracting massive attention to this movie and its message, by the way) help either of those goals in any way?

      • They’re also busy contaminating our water supplies so they can sap our precious body fluids.

  • Management by crisis. I absolutely agreed with everything you did, until you called her the ‘stupidest person in the world’ after the situation was explained to you. That kind of derogatory comment makes me less likely to believe the ‘danger’ you felt you were in, real or imagined. Stay home next time. We don’t need armed guards patrolling our movie theaters anymore than we need paranoid, delusional, nervous-nancy’s like you.

    • THIS. After what happened in Aurora, alerting the theater management sounds reasonable. I also agree that it doesn’t sound like the theater had an appropriate response – I’m not sure what calling the owner would have done to impact a real emergency situation. That being said, attacking the other movie-goer as ‘the stupidest person alive’ paints the OP as somewhat hysterical. After that outburst, I would’ve taken the OP less seriously. Then again, I respond most positively to calm, well-reasoned responses.

  • i’m quite disheartened that there are so many passive dolts that find the womans behavior oh so status quo. seriously people, have some street smarts. her erratic behavior was very suspicious.
    the theatre utterly failed basic safety protocol. suspicious activity involved erratic behavior, bags left behind, digital displays and coming and going fiddling with contents of a bag? jesus christ, have some sense and check that shit out.
    it’s only a matter of time before ied’s hit dc. you don’t have to be fearful, just be smart.

    • +1. It seems as though a lot of the commenters are too cool to be smart about this kind of thing. You live in a city that is a terrorist target. You don’t have to be fearful, but you do have to be alert. The OP was and he was right to be suspicious.

      • you might think differently if you saw how many HSEMA “suspicious package” alerts came across government pagers on a daily basis.
        Really, every abandoned bag, stuffed polar bear in garbage can, or forgotten gewgaw is not a national security matter.

    • glad to see the paranoid spirit of George W. Bush lives on

      • wake up.

        being smart isn’t about being paranoid. or fearful of everyone.
        it’s just like living in DC, you need to be a bit street smart. be aware. and understand that shit can go down. know what to do when things are amiss.

        but you probably think those boys hanging on the corner in your hood are waiting for the bus, right?

        • My hunch is that the breakdown of these comments is roughly correlative to old-timers vs. new arrivals. I think those who have been in DC when the city or the people have been targeted understand that, accept it or not, we live in a bulls-eye for foreign and domestic terrorists. I can understand why newer residents would be used to living in a place where mass attacks or terror campaigns seldom (or, more likely, never) happen and be slow to adjust to the realities here. But this isn’t some small town and it’s not paranoid to be alert to any kind of suspicious behavior.

          • I’ve lived here for 38 years and have no idea what you’re talking about.

            The thing to be scared of in DC is run of the mill violent crime and crappy drivers, not being “targeted” because you’re in the “bulls eye”

          • You must have been on long vacations during the sniper incidents, the anthrax letters, the fear surrounding 9/11, etc. I wish I had your travel schedule. All of this is not to mention the fact that plans of the Metro system were found in a cave in Afghanistan and several other attacks have been broken up. So you’re right. DC is never targeted by terrorists. All I’m saying is that it’s smart to be alert for suspicious activity and those who are chiding to OP are advised to remember that.

          • How many people died in those incidents?

            How many people have died in the same period in traffic accidents? in street crime?

            And didn’t the latest movie theater shooting rampage happen in some random town in Colorado? But wait, I thought DC had a “bulls eye” on it for your scary terrorist bogeyman…?

            No one is saying that DC isn’t a target; only that flipping out and chasing Asian ladies around, calling them stupid to their face, because you’re afraid the Chinese government is trying to bomb your theater is totally insane.

          • “I think those who have been in DC when the city or the people have been targeted understand that, accept it or not, we live in a bulls-eye for foreign and domestic terrorists.”

            I think it also depends on how much you trust your government.

          • So if the victim count isn’t higher than traffic accidents, street crime (or some other magical threshold), terrorism isn’t important? I think you need to remember that terrorism is meant to use killing to influence populations, so the death till is only part of the point. Your second failure of logic is that if an attack happened in CO, then somehow that affects the chance that attacks would happen in DC. I don’t quite understand that, but I never said ALL terrorist attacks occur in DC, just that we are in a city that is a target (a fact you helpfully agreed with at the end if your post). I also never mentioned anything about the Chinese government, so I’ll leave that 3rd straw man alone.

          • Death toll, not death till.

          • @theheights sorry, as good as that logic may sound in your head it doesnt really translate to reality. I, too, have lived here my entire life and think it was a bit of an overreaction. If someone was planning to send a msg, Id think the target might be a little bigger than a movie that 90% of the area didnt know existed. Hell 75% of the area may not have ever been to the E St Cinema. Everyone was on guard in the instances that you mentioned b/c they happened in this area…most ppl tend to take note when it hits CLOSE to home, and Aurora AINT that

          • The over reaction was to verbally abuse the staff and the individual.

            Calling the police is the right thing to do. Telling the theater manager wont do anything. Jack Bauer isnt working at the E Street Cinema.

            If you’re concerned about crimes you call the police. If you’re worried your popcorn doesnt have enough butter you call the theater manager.

          • Anon, I never mentioned Aurora, so you might want to take that up with the commenters who did. Anon X is right that the OP went overboard, but his/her instincts were right. And the statement that “Everyone was on guard in the instances that you mentioned b/c they happened in this area…most ppl tend to take note when it hits CLOSE to home, and Aurora AINT that” shows that we do, indeed, have very different ideas of “logic.”

          • oh the rich rich irony. theheights writes

            ” I think you need to remember that terrorism is meant to use killing to influence populations, so the death till is only part of the point. ”

            To argue that overreacting to terrorism is appropriate. I’m perfectly aware that the reaction to the terror is the whole point of it. Why do you think I am against freaking out about things that have a .0000001% chance of being terrorism?

          • I think ppl are taking issue with your “My hunch is that the breakdown of these comments is roughly correlative to old-timers vs. new arrivals.I can understand why newer residents would be used to living in a place where mass attacks or terror campaigns seldom (or, more likely, never) happen and be slow to adjust to the realities here.” statement…its a little misguided to say the least

          • Wow. Can’t believe the folks who don’t believe there have been foreign (terrorist) incidents in DC. I’m convinced as others note here it will likely happen again someday.
            To anon poster below, the most famous even that I can recall was in 1977 when B’nai B’rith (now HRCF 17th and RI) was taken over.


            “On March 9, 1977, when, in what was at the time one of the worst terror attacks in America, seven members of the Hanafi Muslim sect took over the B’nai B’rith headquarters, the Islamic Center and Washington, D.C.’s city hall. (B’nai B’rith is one of the few major Jewish organizations headquartered in Washington, D.C, not New York.) For 39 hours, 123 hostages were held on the top floor of the B’nai B’rith building at Rhode Island Avenue. The building was ransacked, its ground floor museum stripped, personnel shot and beaten—some severely, some who never recovered from the psychological shock”

  • The same thing happened to me this weekend when I expressed concern about a guy standing at the back of the theater doors with a bookbag–during Dark Knight Rises. We told the guy at the ticket counter and he said “okay” without reporting or moving to tell anyone else. This was at the Georgetown theater for anyone who cares.

  • Sounds like Landmark E Street’s staff responded really poorly to the concerns of the OP (and not just the OP — apparently someone else had already alerted the management to the suspicious behavior).

    I don’t think the OP was right to say to the suspicious woman, “You have got to be the stupidest person in the world for what you did,” but the rest of the OP’s account sounds mostly reasonable. Maybe the film’s subject (unnecessarily?) heightened the OP’s concerns… but someone messing around with a bag and leaving it unattended DOES constitute suspicious behavior in a movie theater.

    Especially in the wake of the Aurora disaster, theater management need to take reports of suspicious behavior seriously.

  • Whoever wrote this is going to be a really fun PTA parent. *Clutches pearls*

  • I have had that same problem at E Street before! The difference is it was before Aurora and I didn’t tell a manager. I am pretty sure it was the same crazy lady though! My wife and I were both scared because in a post 9-11 world (even pre 9-11) you can never be too cautious. I think you did the right thing! I think it is ridiculous how the manager behaved and I would send this article to the Washington Post!

  • What if this were at an airport/train station? I would assume no one would think that the OP was paranoid…

    You did the right thing – report suspicious activity and have management/officials check it out.

  • Unfortunately, I think your political angle of what happened that day slightly discredits your story in the eyes of many commenters here, but ultimately the actions you took were entirely right. If anyone is doing something other than eating popcorn or watching a movie while it is playing, I would be worried about what they’re doing.

  • Dear PoP,

    I was at a movie theater when a woman came in after the show had begun. She seemed a little out of breath, which wasn’t surprising considering she was late – I bet the Metro was delayed and she had hurried over to E Street from her stop.

    Right after she got here, she reached into her bag to find something – I’m guessing it was her purse, to go get something to eat, or a drink. Or maybe a tampon. Anyway, she went to do that, and we went back to watching our movie.

    Soon thereafter, another woman got up and stormed out of the theater. I got up to see what was going on, and the second woman was ranting at the kid taking tickets about how the Chinese government was going to blow up the theater, there was a secret agent going back and forth from her car bringing bomb parts into the theater to set up an IED, etc. Totally nuts, right?

    Anyway, this nut is freaking out, demanding to see a manager, making racist rants about Asians, etc, and eventually goes outside to call the police. The first woman returns, whereupon she is asked by the manager to go outside with her to talk to the crazy paranoid woman. At this point, I am super curious about what’s going to happen, and I get outside just as the paranoid woman tells this poor woman who got to the theater late that she was “the stupidest person in the world.”

    Get this – the first woman got offended by this comment, rather than dismissing it as the crazed ranting of a loony tune. I guess I don’t blame her given that she had been singled out due to her ethnicity and pulled out of a movie she had paid for a ticket to go see. Eventually the manager threw the loon out, and she left. Crazy, huh?

    • This comment is just pointless. The OP certainly had reason to be nervous.

    • This is ridiculous. We have no reason to believe that the reporting person is a woman. They used the gender-neutral term “partner” so I assumed he was male.

    • I’m just saying, the way this person described the events are his or her perceptions. And, I can imagine a whole different way to perceive what happened here, which is the point of my post. Gender of either party is irrelevant to the point I’m making, which is that many people are presuming this person’s paranoia was justified but might have seen it very differently from the perspective I am suggesting (person comes in late, runs to bathroom, paranoid loon freaks out and starts ranting, calling cops, etc)

  • ANON 2:17 pm.

    Uh. Wow. This adds a whole new twist to the story.

  • While I wouldn’t have thought that the woman’s activities were tied to the Chinese government (don’t think they would do something that public or that they’d care about a movie viewing), her actions were suspicious. It’s not like the OP broke out in a panic and started yelling at the theater to evacuate. Reporting the woman’s actions to the manager were completely appropriate, and for the people complaining about the Aurora references, it’s not crazy to think there might be copycats trying to get a rise out of people. Don’t you remember all the bomb threats right after 9/11?

    There’s a difference between being paranoid and irrational and being aware of your surroundings. DC is a target, there is no doubt about that. It doesn’t mean you stop living your life, but there is no reason not to report suspicious actions. And this woman’s actions were shady to say the least. Also, the manager should be concerned about the experience of ALL patrons, not just one nutty one.

  • I took a rather large duffle bag into Dark Knight Rises the day after the shooting. Not on purpose, but just because I needed it afterwards. I put it on the seat next to me to hold a spot for my friend.

    The woman’s activity was suspicious, but I would more likely think she was disturbed and/or recording the movie.

  • Hm. My first thought before reading all the way through was that she was recording the movie.

  • I was at the E Street theater the afternoon before, and the staff member making announcements before the film started began her spiel by saying, “Welcome to the Dark Knight Rises….just kidding.” I felt it was mildly in poor taste, but after reading this story, um wow.

  • Are you as attractive as you are charming?

  • I know the manager in question and he is hands down the most professional and hardest working theater manager in DC. He not only loves his job, he is the epitome of customer service. I was already sickened by this poster’s obviously racist rant but to add a claim that the “manager obviously doesn’t take the security concerns of his customers seriously” is so far beyond reality, I’m speechless.

    Yes, E Street has a lot of young people on staff. But unlike a lot of chain theaters, these young people love movies and work their butts off. As customers, you don’t have the right to treat them like dogs or to spout insensitive, racially ignorant or plain mean statements under the guise of security.

    I am mortified that people think this is appropriate behavior and feel sad for humanity.

  • I instantly assumed she had gotten a ‘surprise’ and was rooting around for a tampon.

  • It was perfectly reasonable to be concerned about someone playing with electronics in a theater, then leaving the bag behind, then returning, playing some more with the electronics, and leaving again.

    I can empathize with the OP in this situation. But the person I most feel sorry for is the manager. I have to think that pretty much from the first moment of the complaint, he knew what was going on; it was the Asian lady he allowed to copy films in his theater.

    See, he knows there is only one threat in this situation: That he will lose his job if his bosses find out he is allowing people to bootleg his films. So, how does he communicate to the OP that there is no threat, without telling her just why he is so confident of that fact? It seems to me we could make a whole ‘nother “art” film to address that question.

    As for the felon doing the bootlegging, it is just too darn bad if her feelings are hurt. I realize we are not supposed to call criminals names anymore, but I refuse to feel sorry for her in any case. She got caught, and her sole punishment was to be called a name.

  • Wow, this is really scary. The poster did the right thing in my book. And the woman may not bethe stupidist peron in the world, but he does deserve to be told off or banned from he theater. I agree that she was most likely filming the movie. As an Asian American myself, i have no problem identifying her as such. It’s relevant given the subjectof the film and also so we can identify her if we happen to see someone behaving similaly. Those whothink the Chinese govt wouldnt bother with something like

    • …This are fooling themselves.

    • Those who think the chinese government wouldn’t bomb an f-ing movie theater in the US capital are “fooling themselves”?!

      This is so radically absurd its hard to even wrap my head around it. The Chinese government has plenty of problems and is up to doing many things, but bombing a movie theater in their biggest foreign trading partner’s capital out of some sort of pique about a documentary on an artist is pretty far from the scope of probability.

  • yeah, i can imagine how this situation might’ve been a touch disturbing. but, come on… it concerned you “that the owner of the bag was an Asian woman and [you] could not help but wonder if this was someone sent by the Chinese government to sabotage this film on its opening day in Washington, DC.”

    having read that line i realized that you’re not more than an hysterical twat.


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