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August 01, 2019


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Oh I hate the chatters. We went to see Once Upon a Time
In Hollywood last Friday, and two young 60-something women kept up a running commentary on the movie. Not just an occasional “yes!” Or “that’s whe way you do it” (which is pretty typical for most Marvel movies, and sometimes part of the fun) but a running commentary on what they remembered of a particular 60s product shown on screen, or what they thought about a character’s choices, or what they thought would happen next. That is just OUT OF LINE. If you want to talk through a movie, stop at Redbox. Download something from Amazon. It’s 100% not okay in a theater with other people. We all paid a lot of money to listen to THE MOVIE.

I also lose my temper with the folks who look at their VERY BRIGHT PHONE SCREENS in dark theaters. I came to see the movie, not a spotlight in my peripheral vision.

I can imagine that some people think of a kids’ camp performance as not falling into the same category as a paid production, where you take your noise into the hallway or face my wrath, but they would be wrong.

Talking and cell phone use during movies, concerts in an auditorium, and live theatre really really bother me. I often end up "Shh"-ing people or asking them to put their phones away.

I am also bothered but to a lesser degree by talking during music at a casual venue like a bar or a park. I'm sure being married to a musician makes me more sensitive about respecting performers with attention.

I'm not bothered by an occasional quick explanation to a kid to help them follow what's going on... so long as it is brief and quiet!

When I was in London back in 1997, the classical music concert programs dedicated a whole page to pointing out one should not even RUSTLE (like unwrapping a cough drop) or cough until the time between movements or pieces. Perhaps we need to spend that kind of thoughtful space to re-educate the culture?

I agree that it should be common courtesy to be quiet so as not to impede other people's enjoyment of a show. I remember when movies used to start with a message asking people to be quiet and to turn off their phones. Perhaps people need more reminding?

Or perhaps we're just drifting back towards a different understanding of performative space? In Shakespeare's day, so I've read, it was pretty common for people to talk over the performance. The trick for the actors was to be so engaging that people wanted to pay attention. But people nowadays have a unique set of distractions with phones. And of course there's the theory that computers have destroyed our ability to pay attention.

People need to be quiet at the theatre, whether it is live or a movie. And especially at kids' productions. What are you telling your kids? Their hard work wasn't enough for you to pay attention? People talked all through the kids' concert at school this past spring and I was ready to go grab the mic and tell everyone to be respectful and shut up. Maybe I should've. People don't seem to know how to behave in public anymore. I'm with you; I'm not cut out for this stuff.

You may not have encountered this classic bit of television.

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