Regal Entertainment Group has announced a new policy change this month after recent theater attacks. Regal theaters will now be checking patron’s bags upon entrance for weapons.
The decision follows a deadly theater shooting in which two people were killed and a total of nine people were injured.
Regal is the largest theater chain in the nation. With its decision to search people, the company could be setting a new precedent for other cinemas. It could soon become commonplace to be searched just to watch a movie. To all you candy–sneaking moviegoers: your time is up.
How much of our personal freedom do we have to give up in order to go out on a Friday night? We live in a society that is becoming afraid of itself. Every purse may contain a weapon, and every individual is now regarded as a possible threat.
It is more than just the sheer annoyance of a stranger looking into your personal bag; it is the constant wear of a society that has alienated individuals with mental health issues. Instead of stigmatizing mental instability, our society needs to bring more awareness of the mental health of its members.
Attacks on theaters, schools and churches are not the work of mentally sound individuals. Rather than becoming scared of one another, we should be working on becoming a more inclusive society and willing to embrace those who are experiencing depression or anxiety.
When we exclude and alienate people, we are only feeding into the negative stereotype that being different is synonymous with being “bad.”
This harmful stereotype keeps people from seeking necessary help, and some individuals lash out to the detriment of the whole society.
Of course, Regal cannot convince people to take care of their mental health. This is an issue that needs to be addressed on a national level. The company is doing what it can to try and keep moviegoers from being too afraid to attend showings.
By checking bags, Regal is giving its patrons a false sense of security in an attempt to save ticket sales. If people do not feel safe entering a dark room with 100 strangers, they will choose another activity for date nights. That is, until someone starts shooting firearms at miniature golf courses.
We all know that a handgun or a knife could be concealed in a pocket or inside of a jacket, but Regal is not performing pat downs or setting up metal detectors, nor should it, so there is no real safety. Rather, there is the illusion of safety that comes at the cost of opening up your bag and sharing its contents.
A gun, knife or pepper spray could make it into a theater in someone’s pocket fairly easily. Do you know what wouldn’t survive 20 minutes in a pocket? A Hershey’s milk chocolate bar. Under the guise of public safety, theaters can now have the option to enforce their “No outside food” restrictions.
The only people this will really affect are the food Sherpa of our cinema world, for those of us unwilling to pay five times the going rate for Sour Patch Kids. We will have to make like the gunmen and hide our cargo elsewhere.
So can we not pretend that Regal cares about our safety, but rather cares about its food and ticket sales?
Thanks to Regal, in order to feel safe in a movie theater, we now have to give up a small amount of personal privacy and the freedom to sneak in our own Peanut M&Ms.