Costume bans and security, part 2: A furry movie theater worker’s opinion.
by Patch O'Furr
- Part 1: Bad news for fans who plan to see highly anticipated movies in costume.
- Part 2: Costume bans and security – A furry movie theater worker’s opinion.
- Part 3: Want to organize a furmeet for Zootopia? Here’s how.
This guest post is by a furry and usher for Cinemark, one of America’s largest theater chains. He asked not to be named for employment reasons.
He raised an international issue I didn’t think of in Part 1. France has had some high-profile riots and political violence. As a result, since 2011, the country has a law making it “illegal to wear a face-covering veil or other mask in public places”. It’s caused interesting enforcement, like banning costumes on Halloween. Comments wanted from French furries – has this affected anyone personally?
(UPDATE:) This article was completed on November 13, only hours before a mass shooting in France hit the news. Relevant detail: “Julien Pierce, a Europe 1 journalist… has described what he saw: ‘Several armed men came into the concert. Two or three men, not wearing masks…'” Fans watching the band “Eagles of Death Metal” were shot. It’s interesting how heavy metal and violent movies have been unfair scapegoats for moral panic in the past. Will it increase for costumers? From tiny conventions to large shows, let’s value culture and liberties. Let’s also send community sympathies to those affected in France.
Guest opinion from a furry theater employee about costume bans.
For a second, I thought the US was considering a rule where costumes aren’t allowed anywhere except homes and conventions (kinda like what France is doing).
First off, I think the rule these theaters made are over-paranoid. I’ve taken a look at the 2012 Aurora Shooting (which started it all). Here are some important facts I noticed that I think Cinemark overlooked when they made this rule. (PLEASE NOTE: I got most info from wikipedia, so you may want to verify on your own.)
The shooting happened on July 20th of 2012 at Century 16 in Aurora, Colorado between 12:38am – 12:45 am Mountain Daylight Time. They were showing a midnight screening of the film “The Dark Knight Rises”.
As with all movies as popular as this, A LOT of people came to see this movie. About 400 filled theater 9 to be precise. One audience member was the perpetrator responsible for the mass shooting – James Eagan Holmes. Police said Holmes bought a ticket, entered the theater, and sat in the front row.
FACT: He wasn’t wearing a costume and/or his tactical gear when he entered the theater normally. Otherwise, Police and/or the witnesses who saw him BEFORE HE LEFT would have mentioned that. He probably didn’t wear a costume and/or his tactical gear because he probably knew the staff would get suspicious. That’s true, we’re supposed to point out any suspicious activity to our managers… it’s our job.
About 20 minutes into the film, he left the building through an emergency exit door, which he propped open with a plastic tablecloth holder.
FACT: I hate to sound like an a–hole here considering what happened, but isn’t it suppose to be the theater’s job and/or security’s job to keep tabs on those exits to make sure no one tries to sneak people in? I mean this is the first showing of The Dark Knight Rises we’re talking about here! There’s gonna be A LOT of dumb teenagers and/or stupid adults who are gonna try to sneak their friends in! They should have been keeping tabs on those doors, it’s our job!
He then went to his car, which was parked near the exit door, changed into his tactical gear, consisting of a gas mask, a load-bearing vest, bullet-resistant leggings, a bullet-resistant throat protector, a groin protector, and tactical gloves, and retrieved his weapons. They were two tear gas grenades, a Smith & Wesson M&P15 rifle, a Remington 870 Express Tactical shotgun, & a Glock 22 handgun.
About 30 minutes into the film, he reentered the theater through the exit door he propped open.
FACT: So if he left the theater about 20 minutes into the film and reentered the theater about 30 minutes into the film. That means the theater and/or security would have had about 10 minutes to notice this door was propped open… What were they doing during those 10 minutes that was too important to check those exit doors? Did they think people would try to sneak their friends in through the front door? I know they’re dumb for sneaking people in, but that doesn’t mean most of them aren’t clever…
Initially, few in the audience considered Holmes to be a threat. According to witnesses, he appeared to be wearing a costume, like other audience members who had dressed up for the screening. Some believed he was playing a prank, while others thought he was part of a special effects installation setup for the film’s premiere or a publicity stunt by the studio or theater management.
FACT: Since when does Cinemark and/or ANY studio do a special effects installation setup and/or a publicity stunt for ANY public movie theater? From what I’ve learned during my time with Cinemark staff, Cinemark is not one for making surprises. … Or tolerating pranks for that matter…
It was said he threw his tear gas grenades, partially obscuring the audience members’ vision, making their throats and skin itch, and causing eye irritation. He then fired his shotgun, first at the ceiling and then at the audience. He also fired his semi-automatic rifle with a 100-round drum magazine, which malfunctioned after reportedly firing several rounds. Finally he fired his handgun at the back of the room first, then towards people in the aisles. A bullet passed through the wall and hit three people in the adjacent theater 8, which was screening the same film. Witnesses said the multiplex’s fire alarm system began sounding soon after the attack began. Staff told people in theater 8 to evacuate. One witness said she was hesitant to leave because someone yelled that someone was shooting in the lobby.
There were 70 non-fatal injuries in that mass shooting, and 12 people were killed… As for Holmes, he was apprehended at about 12:45am. He was described as being calm and “disconnected” during his arrest. Two federal officials said he had dyed his hair red and called himself “the Joker”, though authorities later declined to confirm this.
As you can see from the facts, this is just as much as Century 16’s staff’s fault as it is the perpetrator’s. Because they failed to do the NUMBER ONE THING that is our job, check those exit doors.
But the most important fact is that the perpetrator wasn’t wearing a costume and/or tactical gear when he entered the theater normally through the front door.
Why pin the blame on costumes if the shooter wasn’t even wearing a costume when he entered the theater through the front door? And according to related incidents, the people involved in these incidents weren’t wearing costumes.
- July 22nd, Norwalk CA, a man at a Dark Knight Rises screening yelled, “Does anyone have a gun?” and “I should go off like in Colorado”. He was arrested afterwards. No costume…
- July 22nd, Pittsburgh PA, a man faced criminal charges for being involved in a fight in a cinema restroom. During the fight, a moviegoer shouted “Gun!”, causing panic in the theater showing Dark Knight Rises. No costume…
- July 23rd, San Jose CA, someone threw a package into a theater showing Dark Knight Rises and reportedly yelled that it’s a bomb, leading to an evacuation. No costume…
- July 23rd, Sierra Vista AZ, a moviegoer’s confrontation with an intoxicated man with a backpack at a Dark Knight Rises screening led to mass hysteria, causing 50 people to evacuate the theater. No costume…
- August 4th, Westlake OH, a man was arrested for carrying several weapon in a satchel into a screening of Dark Knight Rises. You guessed it, no costume…
Nobody was killed in those incidents. I’m sure the man from Ohio with the satchel of weapons intended to kill, but why did they allow him to carry this satchel into the theater without inspecting it first? It’s security’s job & theater management’s job to check those bags to make sure no one is sneaking anything in that isn’t allowed…
After the 2012 Aurora Shooting and those related incidents, some of the people involved sued Cinemark for not boosting it’s security. In fact, there’s a trial date against Cinemark that is set for July 2016. So in an attempt to save their business without realizing it’ll damage their business more and give Cinemark a bad name, they decided to ban masks in every Cinemark building… Not even employees are allowed to wear masks for Halloween… The strange part about this rule, they aren’t putting up signs that mentions this new rule. You’d think that they would considering LOTS of people like to dress up for specific showings. But nope, no “no masks allowed” sign…
Still, I find this rule stupid. I feel they should drop it and tell theater management and security to double-check those exit doors.
With this Zootopia showing coming up, LOTS of furries want to come see it in their fursuits. This is the kind of support a business should solicit with all it’s heart. Take Fernando’s in Pittsburgh for example. It was every furry’s favorite eating spot whenever AnthroCon was in town. When the business started to go under, the furry community banded together to save Fernando’s. They succeeded, and as a way of saying “thanks for saving my business”, the owner changes his restaurant’s name to “Furnando’s” or “Furryland” and serves food in doggie bowls during every AnthroCon.
The furry community is the kind of audience that businesses of all sizes should cater to. All they want when they come in fursuit is to make people smile. Honestly, I feel safer around fursuiters A LOT more than I do around normally-dressed people.
Fursuiters often have more safety worries from other people, than others have from them… and it’s been an honor to host this guest post. – Patch