Tips for movie manners and audience etiquette

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Graphic by Kash Patel

I think everyone has had the unfortunate experience of dealing with some serious lack of etiquette in a performance based context.

This could be anything from people talking during films, texting during a stage play or just an overall lack of respect and manners in a public performance setting.

You know exactly the behaviour I’m talking about and, man, it grinds my gears.

This behaviour is problematic and overall just demonstrates someone’s lack of respect for something a group of people is enjoying.

Now this behaviour is nothing new, I’m sure people interrupted the first films that were screened, or talked over Shakespeare’s plays — however, I think that this behaviour is on the rise and happening more frequently.

This is disappointing because forgetting basic performance etiquette can be hurtful.

I know of  many people who have had to give a speech or perform in a play that was partially ruined by obnoxious behaviour.

For those of us that have experienced this, we know that it sucks and to avoid that kind of disrespect when others are speaking in public.

I have been in film screenings where people have taken selfies with flash, taken phone calls and, this is true, used a flashlight to look for their wallet under the row of seats in front of them.

Now this could be happening for a number of different reasons, but a key culprit seems to be the distraction of technology.

I know it’s hard to stay off a phone for a few hours because of how connected it makes us to the world, our work, our friends and our interests.

But if you’ve bought tickets to watch something you’d be wasting your money by texting in the middle of it.

Now, I admit that I leave my phone on during movies but only in case someone needs to get in touch with me. And at the very least I turn down my brightness and make sure the sound is off.

Even if you do this and still need to talk to someone, just take your call outside and not in the theatre. I’m sure venues sink a lot of money into those cheesy ads telling people to stay off of their phones, so don’t have them have waste their money.   

Perhaps what is the biggest disappointment, and I hate to say it, often seems to be young people that are the responsible for it in the first place.

At the risk of sounding like a Baby Boomer who blames everything from the poor economy, the closure of stores, to just general noise on millennials our demographic, the teenage to young adult years in particular, often forgo  etiquette.

I have been in film screenings where people have taken selfies with flash, taken phone calls and, this is true, used a flashlight to look for their wallet under the row of seats in front of them.

I think most of us would react quite angrily to things like this happening in a film or stage play we are trying to watch.

So overall taking calls, being distracted with your phone and general disruptive behaviour is something that annoys the majority and is done by the minority.

I believe that the following message would best be aimed at that minority that includes some teenagers and young adults.

I say this much, don’t give the older generations the excuse to hate on us all more by disrupting movies and performances. We all get blamed for enough already.

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