I was in Michigan for the past week, and while driving in downtown Kalamazoo, I noticed that the old movie theater had been replaced by an Alamo Drafthouse, a movie theater with tables and food and beverage service. It’s a fun idea, and I idly wondered how much business the new one would bring in, oblivious to what was brewing in Alamo Drafthouse management: the banning of Google Glass.
Yep, the smart glasses have taken yet another hit, although it makes more sense to ban them in a movie theater than it does to ban them in a bar. I mean, sure, people can still record movies with their phones and whatnot, but Glass makes it even easier to do that. The issue first came up earlier this year when a guy in Columbus, Ohio wore his prescription lens Google Glass to Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. I’m not sure why he wanted to see the movie in such great detail, but that’s beside the point, and apparently he had been wearing his Glass everywhere for the previous two months, including to that same theater twice. The guy turned Glasses off before the movie started, using them only for the prescription lenses. About an hour into the show, a man with a badge approached the guy’s seat, tore the Glasses off his face and then directed him outside, where a bunch of cops were waiting.
The Glass wearer asked for his device back, and asked to see the man’s badge. The man said he was with the federal service (the ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations), and that the wearer can been caught illegally taping the film. Despite trying to explain, the feds stripped the guy of his work and personal phones and his wallet, and then separated him and his wife for questioning. And despite insisting that he hadn’t recorded anything, which could be verified by the lack of files on any of his devices, they questioned him for more than an hour, threatening that if he didn’t cooperate with the “voluntary” interview, he’d regret it. The feds wanted to know who the guy worked for, or who the black market DVD kingpin was. They were also skeptical about how he had obtained Glass (he was in the pilot explorer program). Eventually, they did search his Glass and phones and admitted that no wrongdoing had been committed. Then, hilariously, the guy was given a couple of guest passes so he and his wife could see the movie again. And then they got a couple more, just for good measure. Because there’s nothing like four free movie passes when you’ve been detained and treated like dirt by the feds. Also, I’m glad the feds are focusing on serious criminals.
So it’s not that surprising that Alamo Drafthouse, which owns theaters in a bunch of states and will soon expand to California, doesn’t want to deal with that mess at all. They waited until they started seeing their own customers show up wearing Glass, and then decided it was time to invoke the ban. Apparently, the chain has also banned Madonna.
This is a perfect chance to use the new Glasshole program, which seems a lot easier and more reasonable than sending in the feds. In the meantime, CEO of Alamo Drafthouse is getting a bit of a blowback.
In the partially obscured eyes of GoogleGlass early adopters, I seem to be the most hated man in America.
— Tim League (@timalamo) June 11, 2014