One discourse community is that of a movie theatre. Movie theatres have a wide variety of jargon associated with them, and which can be picked up after working there for a just a short amount of time. In the movie theatre, much of the discourse revolves around movies and concessions, including things such as the kettle, seasoning, hot foods, door, post, and standees. Each of these is representative of another term or phrase: the kettle is where popcorn is made, and seasoning is used to help with the flavor. Hot foods is relatively recent, but alludes to the concession items separate from popcorn, drinks, and candy. It includes pizza, chicken strips, fries, and mozzarella sticks. Door is the section of theatre that covers cleaning theatres, and post is where tickets are torn. Finally, standees are the giant movie advertisements that are sent in for promotion. In some cases, they are just larger posters, in others they allow customers to stand around characters from the movies and pose for pictures. In these cases, simplicity is essential; the jargon associated with the theatre does not need to be complicated, it just needs to be able to present the necessary information.

This movie theatre jargon, while uncomplicated, does give a sense of inclusion to those who work at the theatre, but even more to those who have worked there longer, for they understand the words and phrases without much of an issue. There is a feeling of exclusion when you do not understand the specific jargon that is used by employees who have worked there for a longer period of time, or by the managers when around regular employees. Once someone has worked there for an extended amount of time though, other phrases bring in a different sense of inclusion. For example, when a shipment arrives, if you have worked there for a while, you will know that while getting more supplies is nice, it also means a couple hours of constant movement of supplies and goods in order to put the shipment away, to those who are newer, this daunting task is not as daunting, and is also less dreaded, at least the first time.

In this community discourse, the community uses the jargon in order to distinguish different aspects of the theatre from others. It keeps areas separate and distinct, which allows for new employees to more easily pick up on the jargon when starting: they do not need to know everything about the theatre right away, there is time to teach the basics. There is no need to overload them with information. As everyone starts in concessions, new employees only need learn of concession jargon until the next step is necessary. This allows for clarity. The jargon used also takes regular, everyday words and phrases and changes them into something that could fit a movie theatre, changing their connotations. But it fits within the community discourse. Without the separation between the areas of the theatre, it would be harder to pick up, but it allows for workers to have an easier flow of communication as well, without which, people would have a hard time trying to figure things out while working, and particularly during busy periods.

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2 thoughts on “The Movie Theatre as Discourse Community

  1. It definitely could be! There are enough things that happen there to tell stories about and collect, especially with the number of people that come through each day. There are even ghost stories from the theatre, and it has been open for only about twenty years.

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