Because it will give me an excuse to buy and own and wear an ascot.

Last night, I was out having a drink with a friend of mine. Because we are both nerds and writers, our conversation steered into nerdy writer territory and stayed there.

It was unseasonably warm, so we sat on an outdoor patio — one of the few that isn't rendered useless to me by an army of smokers — and talked about the projects we're working on now, the projects we hope to work on in the future, and whether Pluto Nash is truly the worst movie ever made.

It will come as no surprise to some of you reading this that the discussion about worst movie ever made was inspired by some talk about The Phantom Menace.

"But, if you count things like budget, Pluto Nash is the greatest failure in history. It cost something like 180 million dollars to make, and it grossed close to 2." He said.

"Two dollars?" I asked, longing for the days when it was possible to see a movie for a dollar on a Wednesday afternoon.

"No," he said. "Two million."

(Note: Wikipedia says that it cost 100 million and grossed 7 million worldwide. It's not as bad as he thought, but it's still an epic fail. Also? His numbers were good enough for on-the-patio-in-March-having-a-drink math.)

"Goddamn," I said. "That is an epic fail."

"Did you see it?"

I gave him the same look I give people when they ask me questions like, "So, have you ever walked fifteen miles across broken glass in bare feet?" Or say things like, "How great was Ghost Rider!" or "RON PAUL RON PAUL RON PAUL!"

"No." I said, dryly. "See, Hollywood and I have this agreement where it puts things on its posters and trailers that let me know not to see a certain movie. It's sort of a secret code."

I took a sip of my drink and continued. "It's like, 'Tom Cruise stars in…' and I know it's saying to me, 'Hey, Wil, don't bother with this.'

"'Adam Sandler does that wacky voice he does in every movie, and hilarity ensues!' is code for 'just stay home, save thirteen dollars, and punch yourself in the junk.'"

An ambulance sped up the street. I paused to appreciate the Doppler Effect.

"In trailers, it uses music. If I hear 'I Feel Good' or 'All Star' or 'Walking On Sunshine', It's Hollywood telling me to just avoid that movie entirely."

"So you don't see a lot of movies," he said.

"I do not," I said.

I took another sip of my drink. 

"But I have this idea to record a PSA for people who do enjoy going to the movies," I said.

"Wait. I have to pee," he said, and got up to go to the bathroom.

I checked Twitter, and saw that my beloved LA Kings had lost yet another game to a team they could have beaten.

"Dammit, Kings," I muttered to myself.

My friend came back.

"Okay, so remember those John Waters PSAs about smoking?"


"He's smoking a cigarette, and going on and on about how great it is, and then he tells the audience that they can't smoke. Because apparently that was a thing you had to tell people at one time. 'Hey, people in this potential firey death cage: don't light anything ON FIRE while you're here. Seriously. Thanks.'"

"I don't think I've seen that." He said.

"That's because you're younger than me," I said, and unconsciously rubbed my right hip.

"So I want to do one like that where I'm sitting in an opulent library, with rich mohagany shelves, and leather-bound books, and a roaring fireplace. I'm in a high-backed French chair, sipping a brandy and wearing an ascot."

"Of course you're wearing an ascot."

"Why wouldn't I be wearing an ascot?"

"That's what I'm saying. Any excuse to wear an ascot," he said.

"So that's the scene, and I'm sitting in it like this." I held an imaginary brandy snifter in my right hand, and straightened my back. "I turn to the camera and I go, 'Hello, theater-goers. I'm Wil Wheaton. I hope you're sitting comfortably, and having a delightful evening.' I take a sip of the brandy, and savor it.

"'The management of this fine movie house has invited me here to make a small and simple request of you before the film begins.' I take another sip of the brandy, and smile at the camera. 'Ah, that's delicious brandy.' My face changes slightly, and I get serious. 'While you're enjoying this movie, please, shut the fuck up.' I smile warmly."

My friend laughed and hit the table with an open palm.

"'Also, turn off your fucking cell phones. You're in a movie house, for fucks' sake. You're not in your fucking living room.' Oh, and I'm smiling through all of this, staying very classy–"

"Of course you are."

"'So, out of respect for everyone around you: the people who got babysitters, the people who are on first dates, the Forever Alones, the husbands and wives who are here with their partners not because they want to see this film, but because they want to get laid later tonight… out of respect for all of them, turn your fucking phone off, and keep your fucking mouth shut for the duration of the picture.' I toast the audience with my brandy and say, 'Thank you ever so much. Enjoy the film, and have a lovely evening.'"

I leaned back in my chair and took a long drink.

"So that's my idea," I said.

"You should totally do that," he said.

"Because it will give me an excuse to buy and own and wear an ascot," I said. I thought for a second and added, "Oh, and maybe it will make going out to the movies something I enjoy, rather than endure.

"But, really, it's all about the ascot."

"Any excuse to wear an ascot."

We ordered another round, and talked about Aliens.

81 thoughts on “Because it will give me an excuse to buy and own and wear an ascot.”

  1. You simply must do this PSA. There are a subset of movies that would ad this to whatever the pathetic “please don’t be a dick” begging they do before movies.
    I also see a business opportunity here: NERD THEATRE
    Rule 1: STFU
    Rule 2: Silence all connections you have to the matrix…err, the internet
    Rule 3: Unwashed, bio-offensive neckbeards sit in the special hermetically sealed section. Violators get the hose.
    Rule 4: Anyone who reveals a spoiler during the movie: “This is fuckin’ great; he’s Luke’s father!” can have anyone in earshot dump their soda on the offender’s head. Heroes who do so will receive a new soda (brought to them into the theatre so they don’t miss anything) and free admission to a future show. The soaked offender is ejected.
    What do you think? Can we rescue cinema for the respectful subculture who get it?
    This does place huge responsibility on the selection of films. You have to respect the audience enough to only show quality stuff.

  2. And WW — thank you for reminding me of that great John Waters PSA. I’m from Baltimore, and as I recall, the PSA was shot in Baltimore for a movie theater named The Charles [, which is still QUITE there. Per Wikipeodia, many of Waters’ early films premiered at the Charles, indeed, “… The pre-expansion Charles of the ’70s was featured in the John Waters film Polyester as the X-rated theater run by Elmer Fishpaw, the husband of Divine’s character, Francine Fishpaw.”
    Long story short, it’s time for you to watch Polyester again.

  3. Back when I was young and innocent I went to camp once. One day the slightly older guys were bragging about going to the girls’ dorm and if they were caught they should just say something like “I forgot my condom”. I didn’t know what a condom was but my mind conjured up an image of a bathrobe. That’s what it must be: a posh word for bathrobe or dressing gown; probably French.
    I don’t know what an ascot is but I assume it’s similar to a condom.

  4. Drat! Someone beat to the Code of Conduct referance. I think the world would be amuch happier palce if Wil were to do the code of conduct while sipping brandy and wearing an ascot and have it viewed before every film everywhere. Esp the no talking, no cellphones, no babysitting and no arriving late. Perhap him and the good Dr. Kermode could recite it together. An ascote would match his quiff quite well.
    Hello to Jason Issacs.

  5. I’m in England so time is on my side. Perhaps Wil could don a quiff for the occasion (as well as an ascot, natch). Together they could conquer the world!

  6. This has pretty much made my week. As an Austinite, I am proud this city supports such awesomeness. Please be sure to keep us updated.. I will go see a movie just for that PSA :)

  7. I am so delighted that Tim heard about this, because I was just going to add my voice to the huge chorus of people saying “You know, the Alamo Drafthouse would TOTALLY do this PSA.”
    Please, you two, make it happen. The world NEEDS this PSA. :)

  8. For some reason, this *really* strikes me as something that I could totally see George Takei doing. I love you Wil, and I give you credit for coming up with the idea, but I think George could totally knock this one out of the park. :)

  9. For anyone who would to see the Official Code of Conduct PSA:
    I could totally see Wil and Dr. Kermode, both quiffed to the nines (let’s be honest, Wesley Crusher had a pseudo-quiff going for a little bit anyway) doing their version of this with said ascots and brandy. I wonder if we could get Jason Issacs in on the act – after all he’s already in LA filming his new show…oh to dream…..
    ps: Hello to Stephen Fry, David Morrisey and Fairport Convention

  10. There’s a part of me that hopes the unnamed friend is Jenny Lawson just because that gives me hope that we’ll someday see pictures of dead stuffed animals in ascots.

  11. If this was a thing? I might go see movies more than once (maybe) a year. I would buy movie tickets, watch this PSA, and then leave before the opening credits.
    Please please do this.
    Wheaton’s Fireside Chats

  12. Wil,
    I’m a little late to this party, but in case you haven’t heard of the Alamo Drafthouse franchise, I am 100% sure they would LOVE to have you film that exact PSA and they’d proudly display it in their theatres. I present to you the actual pre-film clip they showed in our humble Austin and San Antonio locations which made national headlines.
    So PLEASE make this happen, for the greater good.

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