This article was written by Carrie Kuecks, class of 2019.
As this year’s election process moves forward to conclusion, many Americans tuned to watch the third debate, looking for a final opportunity to view the candidates. One unique venue where the Presidential Debate was shown was at Regal Cinemas at Sawgrass. Viewers sat back with their popcorn and drinks while the two candidates battled for votes.
Unlike most movie showings, a local police officer was guarding the door at the live showing of the debate. However, there were no outbursts or riots and the viewing was uneventful. Most members of the audience (about 18 in total), went on their phones to snapchat or mimicked Donald Trump’s hand movements. Unsurprisingly, the movie theater was practically empty on a Wednesday night, even with the theater’s offering free entry and a beverage at no cost with a purchase of popcorn.
Attendees had subtle reactions to the issues discussed. For instance, when Hillary Clinton addressed the issue of abortion, many of the audience members fell silent and focused. On the issue of gun control, Clinton viewers were slightly more vocal and shook their heads on certain key points. When Trump discussed his views on certain policies, especially on the issue of immigration, he received more animated responses. With a predominantly empty theater, the entire debate on the big screen was quiet and calm. Most audience members sat in small groups or by themselves.
Viewing the candidates on a large screen was more impactful than the average television in your living room. The big screen allowed viewers to feel closer to the candidates; it appeared almost as if they were in the same room. Overall, the debate did not spark eruptions of emotion from those in the audience
The candidates did not reveal any new additions to their plans or have any particularly dramatic moments. Chris Wallace, the debate moderator pitched interesting questions and held control of the pace with a few, limited runaway interruptions. Like most movie goers, once the popcorn was gone, what appeared on the screen either captivated the audience or caused them to nod off. In this third and final debate, the audience did not show much enthusiasm. Whether at the movie theater or at home, the last debate was like an unpopped kernel at the bottom of the election cycle.