Hot Take: 15-second movie rule

Photo courtesy of Krists Luhaers on Unsplash

By Madalyn Watson | Arts & Life Editor

The five-second rule suggests that when someone drops food or cutlery on the ground, they have five seconds to save it from being contaminated by germs. This food hygiene myth is probably something you heard your classmates yell about at recess or your younger siblings state matter-of-factly before plopping a dirty snack into their mouth.

Unlike the five-second rule, the 15-second rule does not increase your chances of consuming some type of virus. In fact, the rule doesn’t apply to food at all (besides maybe the popcorn and candy you may eat in a movie theater.)

The 15-second rule applies to when you are watching a television show or film and you start to question something that is going on in the plot.

My dad told me about the rule so I would stop asking questions in the middle of intense scenes when we binge-watched television shows like “The Walking Dead” and “Breaking Bad.”

The rule in a nutshell is that if you are ever confused by the plot of whatever you are watching and you want to ask a fellow audience member to explain it to you, your questions will most likely be answered and your mind will be set at ease about 15 seconds later in the film.

At first, I thought this was all a way for my dad to get my nine-year-old, loud mouth self to stay quiet. But every time my dad shushed me and whispered, “Fifteen second rule,” my answers were somehow magically answered within the next 15 seconds.

Although this rule works the majority of the time, there are two situations where this 15-second rule does not apply, yet it’s for valid reasons.

The first situation is that you haven’t been paying enough attention to the movie in its entirety (possibly scrolling through Instagram or texting your crush), and your question has already been answered. This also happens a lot when the setting of your movie viewing is very loud or you’re engaging in conversation during the film.

This can also occur when you’re just plain uninterested or if you keep spacing out, which means you should probably just turn off the program and find something new to watch.

The other key reason your question would not be answered in the next 15 seconds is that it is a key plot point or mystery that drives the story forward. If you keep asking who committed the murder every five seconds while watching movies like “Murder Mystery” or series like “CSI,” no one is going to invite you to their home to watch television with them ever again.

So next time you debate whether to ask questions during a movie or TV program, remember that the 15-second rule is a tool anyone can use to help them understand what they are watching, or to tell their friends to “shut up” when they want to concentrate on the screen ahead of them.