October 1, 2004
Noise Free America
For immediate release
Madison: The American movie industry has won this month’s Noisy Dozen award from Noise Free America for producing thunderous advertisements, trailers, and motion pictures. These days, going to the movies often sends individuals running for cover.
Pre-show advertisements often play at an explosive 90-92 decibels, concedes the Trailer Audio Standards Association. Noise levels for pre-movie commercials are completely unregulated.
Recently, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation found that movie previews peaked at nearly 90 decibels–equivalent to a dental drill gone berserk. The CBC also found that maximum levels during feature presentations reached 95 decibels–equivalent to standing next to a gas-powered leaf blower.
“If you went over to a friend’s house, a supposed friend, and they started shouting in your ear for an hour or two, you wouldn’t tolerate that,” commented Eric Greenspoon, president of NoiseWatch. “You’d probably walk out the door, right? But yet we’ll go to a movie and tolerate uncomfortable noise levels for a couple of hours.”
Peter Howell, a movie critic for The Toronto Star, stated that “movies are getting louder. I used to be a rock critic, so I’m very sensitive to sound. I’m aware that sound can be very damaging. Some of the sounds in the movies are excessive and unnecessary. You feel assaulted by some sounds.”
The assault of sound has tremendous consequences. Five million children in the United States suffer from hearing loss–some permanent. The National Center for Environmental Health found that 12.5 percent of children suffer from noise-induced hearing loss.
Eric Greenspoon of NoiseWatch proposes that movie theatres include warning about potentially damaging noise levels–similar to the warnings on cigarette packages. Greenspoon never goes to the movies without custom-made ear plugs.
Deborah Sheriton, also of NoiseWatch, stated that “silence is golden. We need to bring back silence into our culture.”
Noise Free America is a national citizens group opposed to noise pollution. Its website is http://www.noisefree.org. Previous “winners” of the Noisy Dozen award include Echo Manufacturing, Governor Gray Davis, and Congressman Darrell Issa.