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Mad as Hell #1 – Restless Leg Syndrome

Welcome to a new series about the things that piss us off when we go to the movies.

The MAD AS HELL series takes its name from Howard Beale’s epic rant in 1976’s Network, watch it here or listen to a song by some unknown Irish band that samples the scene below.

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Restless Leg Syndrome in the Cinema

Going to the cinema should always be an enjoyable experience but occasionally things happen (away from what’s on-screen) to leave you feeling a bit aggrieved and feeling that you’ve just paid a tenner to get annoyed. One of my biggest problems is the phenomenon of people who just can’t sit still and feel the need to rapidly bounce their leg up and down like as if they’re drumming in a death metal band. Most modern cinemas have their rows of seats joined together which means these toe-tappers are creating a constant vibration which will be very noticeable by people close to you in the row.

This poor old woman just can't stop tappin', her hubby don't know what to do with her.

This poor old woman just can’t stop tappin’, her hubby don’t know what to do with her.

It is truly infuriating if twenty minutes in to a screening you start feeling that tap-tap-tap closeby. If the person is right beside you it creates a weird friction-fuelled game which feels like you’re being humped by a dog.

The bouncing knee is usually subconscious on the part of the perpetrator and is often someone suffering from Restless Leg Syndrome (Ekbom’s Disease), a condition which will affect between 5-10% of adults at some point in their life. The Guardian has more…

Symptoms usually begin during the evenings or at night and are variously described as burning, creeping, itching, aching or tugging sensations in the legs.

Of course a lot of people may elicit some of the symptoms of RLS but are simply old-fashioned fidgeters who start shuffling around when they’re bored or nervous. You’d hope people aren’t getting too anxious in a cinema which suggests boredom as a result of inferior product is to blame. The only cure for this is to talk to guys like James Cameron, Roland Emmerich and Peter Jackson and prevent them from making movies that needlessly run over two hours.

So what to do when dealing with a leg shaker?

  1. Move seats close to some sedate pensioners. You may have to deal with a running commentary and a lingering old person smell, but they’re unlikely to have the muscle stamina to shake a leg.
  2. You join in like the picture at the top of the post, keeping in perfect rhythm. It’ll put them off no end. And, much like a Mexican wave, will drive everyone else crazy and start a chain-reaction of “if you can’t beat em, join em” jigglers.
  3. If they’re closeby you can often give the offending leg a gentle nudge, sigh loudly, tilt your head and make sure they know you’re disapprovingly scowling in their direction.
  4. Affirmative action – “The Kathy Bates”. This involves you seeing the famous scene from Misery and then getting past the ticket checker in the cinema with a sledge-hammer.