The city of Atlanta sponsors an event every late spring called Screen on the Green, in which they show films for free on a giant screen in a public park. In past years, when the event was sponsored by Turner Classic Movies and the films were classics like Casablanca, the event was said to be a relaxed atmosphere of casual drinking and lounging. In 2008, the event got a new sponsor, Peachtree TV, whose selections have included Big Momma’s House, National Treasure, and Jurassic Park. Then last week, the film selection was Transformers 2, and all hell broke loose. The Atlanta Journal Constitution picks up the first-hand witness accounts, and trust me, you’ll want to read all of them:
According to witnesses, groups of marauding teens took over the event. About 15 minutes into the movie, “everyone’s attention was diverted to the back end of the event where a group fight was taking place.”
One movie-goer said free chicken sandwiches may had contributed to the brawl. [CHICKEN MADNESS! -Ed.]
“It was an absolute mob scene, from the Chick-fil-A girls getting mobbed trying to hand out free sandwiches to the complete lack of respect for the people watching the movie,” said Marc Freund. “After enduring the first 30 minutes of the movie with people walking around and screaming, we decided to leave,” Freund told the AJC.” [Really? You couldn’t concentrate on Transformers 2? The entire movie is people walking around and screaming. -Ed.]
Midtown resident Jeff Keesee said there were “gangs of kids roaming the aisles, doing stunts to get crowd reactions — a total disaster.”
Sweatland wrote that as his group headed to their cars, he saw a group of “high school-aged kids” throwing rocks at passing vehicles. One of the rocks “completely shattered the back window” of one of the cars, he said.
Jesse Rhodes, who lives in Midtown and attended Thursday’s movie, said a friend was assaulted but did not report the incident to police. Rhodes said he and many of his friends were showered with epithets referring to sexual orientation.
“It was targeted at the gay community, that’s the general opinion of my friends who were there,” Rhodes said.
Josh Hice, 26, of Newnan, was driving by Piedmont Park Thursday night with a friend when he said he was attacked by a group of high school-age people.
“There was a car stopped in front of me and a car stopped behind me, and there was this crowd of about 30 high school kids parading down the street,” said Hice, who was driving an open-top Jeep.
First, a girl came up and spat in his face, Hice said, then he was punched in the face by another teen.
“It split my lip, then they start climbing all over my Jeep, and I turn around and my buddy is getting punched in the face and has blood pouring out of his nose,”said Hice, who thinks he and his friend were targeted by the black teens because they are white. “We were definitely victims of a hate crime.” [via Here and Here]
Hice probably left out the part where he shouted “Come and get your chicken, (n-words)! Bock-bock-pacock!”. But aside from that, they just attacked him with no provocation. Meanwhile, there’s no need to split hairs over whether this was a hate crime. Everyone who sees a Michael Bay movie is the victim of a hate crime.
True-story aside: I had to see Transformers 2 in theaters for a radio interview I did, and the scene was a lot like this, minus the hate crimes and chicken fights. The three teenagers in front of me were texting and talking on their phones the entire movie, two guys behind me shouted at the screen the whole time, and a Guatemalan woman to my right translated every word of dialog to her husband sitting next to her at a normal, non-whisper speaking voice. To be fair, she probably had to get loud to be heard over the yelling dudes and cell-phone teens. At any given second, I was convinced a little fat with sparklers was going to run down the aisle wiping chocolate on everyone’s faces. This is not an isolated incident. These are Michael Bay’s people.
-Big thanks to Nick for the tip