(Pic by LinusB4 / sxc.hu) RECENTLY, during a visit to the cinema, I encountered the infamous subset of Malaysians who seem to enjoy ruining the viewing experiences of others by being inconsiderate.
You know the kind: those who let their mobile phone ring during the movie, or check their SMSes and distract you with the glare from the screen, or proceed to yak away. Couples or groups who giggle and talk to one another throughout the screening. Those who provide a running commentary of the film itself, because apparently it’s too difficult to comprehend the plot just by paying attention. Then there are those who get bored and sigh loudly, perpetually fidgeting and kicking the backs of your seats.
Unfortunately, we are likely to encounter rude audience members at almost any cinema we go to. And I believe I speak for the majority of us — those who go to the cinema to actually enjoy the movie — that it is downright frustrating when other people demonstrate such a lack of thoughtfulness for those around them.
Based on my observation, theatregoers and those who attend other arts functions such as classical concerts tend to be a little more considerate. Less ubiquitous is the shifting and shuffling, the incessant chatter, the hemming and hawing. It could be because in addition to those seated around you, there are also the performers on the stage who deserve your focus and respect. And maybe because the ticket prices of theatre shows and concerts exceed those of the cinema. Heh.
So no talking during the performance, please; keep your mobile phones switched off; no taking photographs, or standing up and moving in and out to disrupt the show. What else can be done to stop rudeness in such spaces?
Here are a couple of entertaining clips.
Halfway during a performance of the play A Steady Rain, actors Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig reprimand an audience member whose mobile phone rings:
But perhaps this isn’t as dramatic as when Broadway actress Patti LuPone stops a song midway through her performance of Gypsy to tell off a couple of photographers who distract her, and the audience, with their camera flashes. Oy. Audio only (turn it up):
Are these performers warranted in reacting the way they do in response to the inconsideration of certain audience members? Or are they being divas? What are your thoughts, dear readers?
My wish for this year, and for the years beyond, is that we continue to strive to be a little more considerate of one another, a little more understanding. In turn, may we be more tolerant and patient with those who, consciously or otherwise, irritate us. On the flipside, let us learn to stand up for ourselves when we recognise it is our right, and tell off those who aggrieve us with their selfishness and thoughtlessness.
May we know when to stop talking, and when to stop fidgeting. May we stop blinding other people’s eyes with our harsh glares and camera flashes. May we know when not to kick the backs of other people’s seats. And may we know when not to rustle sweet wrappers, and when not to bring smelly foods into a confined space.
Nick Choo had a terrific year-end up north in Penang, and had to churn out this column while recovering from the New Year’s festivities. He wishes he could have a holiday from his holiday.
Read previous Merely Playing columns