The General Public Ruins Classical Music Concerts and Movies

Call me snobby, but part of the reason going to see a movie in a theatre is so excruciating these days is that audiences can’t shut up, sit down and behave for two hours. Bringing incivility and unrestrained audience noises to classical music would not improve the experience for anyone else. If you lack the patience to enjoy something quietly for two hours, please do not punish everyone else around you who can.

Maybe we should have separate screenings for “extreme audience participation” films and “sit down and shut up” films, because some Big Dumb Movies are actually improved by some audience feedback (but it is rare, unless it is the Rocky Horror Picture Show or The Room. Seriously, I don’t want to hear you shouting your stupid advice to Batman).

On the other hand, part of making classical music accessible is bringing it out of the formally-dressed and expensive concert hall and into other performance venues where audiences can dress as they like and pay a fraction of the cost for a concert hall ticket (or nothing at all, at free concerts), but still show respect to the musicians and the various pieces being performed. This is a good thing!

There has to be a balance between “dumbing it down” for the impatient and rude who can’t refrain from hooting and applauding and commenting inappropriately and wandering about during performances, scraping non-anchored chairs around, eating noisy / smelly / messy food, and/or letting small children run about or scream (etc) as is what happens in some live action and movie theatres now (even during movies that are not rated G or PG for the kiddies), and making it so inaccessible and intimidating that only those with expendable income and a nice formal outfit can manage to attend a live concert.

As someone has suggested, it would behoove a lot of concert halls to consider handing out “Is this your first time at the opera / a classical music concert? Here are some tips!” brochures. It would not reach the unreachable, but as it is now, those folks aren’t showing up en masse to classical music concerts anyway unless they are outdoors and the musicians are playing stuff like the “1812 Overture” with fireworks exploding overhead. Because there’s nothing Cletus the Slack-jawed Yokel likes more than explosions, unless it is tits and explosions…and beer.



2 thoughts on “The General Public Ruins Classical Music Concerts and Movies

  1. Mark Smith says:

    This is why I’m interested in trying out the Alamo Drafthouse theater, with their policy of zero tolerance of talking or texting during a movie. One strike and you’re out. Apparently they also have special showings where it’s allowed to text and your text can appear on the movie screen.

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