Monday, May 7, 2012

Shut your *&^@%! mouths, please

I am addressing two sets of dimwits who sat behind me this weekend at high-ticket cultural events. The first was the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra's KnightSounds concert at Knight Theater; the second was "Come Fly Away," the touring show in the Broadway Lights series at Belk Theater.

At KnightSounds, two guys chatted blithely during a quiet moment in the Ravel Piano Concerto, superbly played by Swiss pianist Louis Schwizgebel. At "Come Fly," two women giggled and commented during the Frank Sinatra numbers choreographed by Twyla Tharp. (Good thing they weren't in New Jersey, where talking loudly during Sinatra's songs can earn you a seat in a dumpster.)

Now, I understand that people -- especially people under 30 -- have grown up with the idea that you can talk through a public showing of a movie, because they have gotten used to talking over DVDs at home; they don't make any distinction between the two experiences. But there's more leeway for loud behavior in a movie theater, especially if we're watching "The Avengers" or "Cabin in the Woods," and it's a different kind of communal experience.

These people all looked to be in their 50s, which means they were presumably raised to keep quiet at plays and concerts. I don't mean cathedral-style quiet: Laughing or applauding and speaking briefly between movements makes perfectly good sense. When you hear a song you recognize, nobody should look at you squinty-eyed if you emit a big "Ahhhhh" of satisfaction.

But the point of music is to hear it. If you talk, you don't hear it. And I, who actually want to hear it, don't hear it either. Yet these folks looked owl-eyed with surprise to see me turn around with a finger to my lips and say politely -- really, it was politely -- "Please keep it down."

Part of the problem was probably alcohol: You get a free drink ticket with each ticket you buy to KnightSounds, and I have a feeling these two guys also cadged a couple from teetotaler friends. (I'm sure concertgoers love the free booze, but...that's another column.)

Most of the problem is our cultural sense of entitlement. "Do what I damn well please" seems to be the motto of many Americans in many walks of life these days: "I bought a $70 ticket to the Belk, and that gives me the right to flap my lips if I feel like it."

By the same token, I suppose it would also give me the right to move to the seat behind you, gently kicking your chair every 10 seconds until you erupted in volcanic rage. But I would never do that -- unless, of course, you simply wouldn't shut up.

29 comments:

Anonymous said...

Amen

Anonymous said...

That's exactly the reason I haven't attended a movie or live concert event since 1986. These people have such bad manners in public, I was afraid I would go all shake and bake on them.

WE said...

Good grief, I agree. A couple of years back I went to see James Taylor at the local outdoor concert shed. At a big moment, the woman behind me called someone on her cell phone. Her side of the conversation went something like this, "Hey...yeah...I'm at James Taylor. It's hot here. Yeah..he's doing 'Carolina in My Mind' now...wanna listen? Yeah, it sounds good...excuse me? Would you stop staring at me...I'm on the phone?" I was the person staring.

Anonymous said...

So true, how can grown up people NOT know how to act? We have seasons tickets to the Broadway Lights series, and our seatmates always purchase alcohol. Now, mind you, they are young and look very upwardly-mobile, dressed nice, very stylish...but they throw their programs and those plastic wine glasses on the floor as if they were card-carrying residents on Hoarders. Really, people. Shut your mouths and pick up your trash.

Anonymous said...

I agree 100%! I'm only 31 and since moving here(from New Jersey) I have seen quite a few musicals and plays and it bothers me to the core when people spend the whole show talking. I went to a Slam Charlotte show(poetry) and I have 3 older men(maybe in there mid to late 40s) talk and comment on every poet. It was so annoying I turned around a few times and gave them that look and finally I told them they were being very rude. They told me I needed to shut up.....what?!?!?!

Anonymous said...

in London a few years back, I was watching Jeremy Irons in a dramatic play and in the middle of his line, he stopped. He turned to the audience and told off the loud people, asked them to leave and walked off the stage. The theatre went black and I wasn't sure if it would finish or not. Ultimately, the people left and about 10 minutes later, he wound up coming back on to finish. Bravo Jeremy! Maybe some of our audiences need to be told off by the artists to get the point...

John said...

It's not just here. The use of cell phone jammers in theaters and restaraunts in Europe and Asia are rapidly growing.

Venues need to start advising the audience at the beginning that they will be removed if they interfere with others ability to hear and enjoy the performance... and then DO IT!

Anonymous said...

I agree about the rude talking, but Come Fly Away was one of my least favorite shows, EVER. Loved the Frank Sinatra vocals and the band was fabulous! The dancing by coreographer Twyla Tharp, not my cup of tea. It reminded me of Movin' Out, and with good reason, it was also coreographed by Twyla Tharp. I just better stay clear of her shows. Couldn't wait for it to be over! If you heard someone whisper to their husband, "I can't wait for this to end," it was me. Sorry!

Lady Spellvin said...

Well said. I am 35, a self-proclaimed "theatre person" and I occasionally perform community theatre. It is SO disturbing to see people who aught to know better, who are the biggest and loudest people to proclaim that they love and support the arts, blatantly disrespect the very thing they claim to love. The worst offenders, I believe, don't know how loud their comments are and are frequently asking their date what was just said, or even worse, discussing interpretations, robbing themselves of following action or dialog that may address their question or comment.

It seems that they treat the stage like a television, that the actors and/or musicians should not notice or be affected. WE HEAR YOU! WE DON'T LIKE IT!

It is soooo wonderful to be involved in something that inspires discourse - in the LOBBY or the CAR RIDE HOME or at a RESTAURANT afterwards. Please if you think you need to talk during a show, think again, think about the performers and the other paying customers.

Anonymous said...

On the other hand...Some people have no compassion and think only of themselves and their $70.00 ticket. While attending the last Kenny G performance at Belk I was blessed to sit in front of a young boy with autism. His family shared that he went to sleep each night listening to Kenny G's music. This young boy was so happy and verbalized his joy from time to time. Not yelling or even speaking loudly. But this jerk in front of me kept turning around glaring at this boy and his family. Each time I tried to block his stares with my program. After being disrupted by this man's behavior for three quarters of the show I leaned forward hoping to enlighten him on this boys situation. He knew and didn't care saying they should'nt have brought him to the show. Disgusting! I would much rather listen to the wonder of this young boy then sit beside someone who thinks I came to hear them sing at Frankie Vallie concert.

Anonymous said...

Bravo, Mr. Toppman! This behavior is just part of "the dumbing-down of everything" which has been part of our culture (or lack of it) for the past few decades. As a performer, I am painfully aware of the lack of etiquette that is prevalent in live theatre these days. The worst part of it is that people seem to be proud of being ignorant and rude. Let's hope the pendulum will swing back in our lifetimes! I thank you for your outrage!

Anonymous said...

The last time I spent good money on bad seats was for the All Stars Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in 1991. The good folks around me starting passing around a joint, and using the F word like it was the last day on earth you could say it in public. Call me old school, that's fine. I learned the best seat in the house is in my house. And so far, I've always been able to retain my sense of hearing all these years... Now, I am going to try my damnedest to figure out the non-spam words you require to enter this comment. (this is where the F word is truly valuable)

Anonymous said...

Last time this happened to me I stood, pointed my finger at the offender and said Shut the f*** up.

It earned me a rude response, but they shut up.

Anonymous said...

I can remember a time and place where people were actually quiet in restaurants, too.

Now, that is almost impossible to find.

Anonymous said...

Welcome to the modern liberal society. Where rules are simply shades of grey, laws are inherently unjust because a minority of people break them and are protected class, parents are no longer acting as adults because government has taken over most of their responsibilities and our laws are geared to protect the offender instead of the innocent.

Anonymous said...

Had a similar experience at the James Taylor/Carole King concert a year or so ago. The concert for me was ruined by several people sitting a few seats over from us who talked through the entire concert. Our tickets were expensive and. I had been looking forward to this concert for a long time. I told my husband that I'd rather sit at home and listen to the music on our stereo. I have sworn off concerts in the Charlotte area.

Archiguy said...

Anon 3:27 - Sorry, you don't get to turn a column about people behaving badly in a theater into yet another liberal bashing rant. As Larry said, these people were in their 50's, and should know better. Rude is just plain rude, and your personal opinion of how great things used to be in the good ol' days and how bad they are now doesn't excuse people from acting boorishly. Or writing boorish blog posts, apparently.

Anonymous said...

I could not agree more. I don't attend these type of events often due to the expense - but when I do, I refuse to have my evening spoiled by someone who is disrespectful.

In all fairness, I recall a time when someone asked me to keep stop talking when I was whispering something to my husband during a movie. I thought at the time I was being quiet, but obviously not.

Collegegirl said...

It's no better in the University classroom. I've had to ask my Professor to tell my classmates to shut their cakeholes. Really? Phones, Facebook, chatting with neighbors. SHUT UP for the love.

Wiley Coyote said...

All you have to do is get on any highway and see how many "entitled" people believe the left lane is theirs for the taking and drive it at their leisure.

I used to love going to concerts and would pay a premium to sit on the floor as close to the stage as I could get to watch and listen to the band, only to wind up next to the guy selling dope and having everyone crawl over me, to get to him. And then there are the people who sit in the first few rows that stand the whole time or even worse, stand in their seats.

Anonymous said...

So this your forum for things you don't like or agree with. Most people could care less what you like or don't like. Get a life.

Anonymous said...

Yankees from Jersey I'm thinking!

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous said...
So this your forum for things you don't like or agree with. Most people could care less what you like or don't like. Get a life.
May 8, 2012 4:30 PM"


Who are you talking to?

Anonymous said...

People also used to know that during a concert, you stay seated during the performance: if you get up to go to the bar, restroom, etc., you do it between songs. Not any more: I've seen people at Ovens Auditorium behave as though they were in their own living room and could do as they bloody well pleased, whenever they felt like it. One guy got up multiple times, barging in and out while Harry Connick was singing or playing the piano. No manners whatsoever. And the guy was actually surprised when I finally snapped at him...but I didn't pay $75 to watch his backside in motion all night!

Cedar Posts said...

Sat through a matinee recently as the other shows were sold out, my mistake, kids on the left and seniors on he right. Non stop chatter in boh groups.

I know better, and normally pay for the higher priced tickets to avoid the riffraff.

Anonymous said...

The venues and sponsors are a large part of the problem! The sale of alcohol does nothing but contribute to the problem! They need to set parameters of acceptable behavior and then enforce them.

The sponsors also give many unsold tickets away to different community groups. Many of these obviously are not usual theatre patrons and have little knowledge of theatre decorum. Often they are high school students with a group chaperone who doesn't seem to care that others have spent hard earned money to attend the event. Perhaps the sponsors and venues will eventually get it.

Thanks for writing a column which addresses these issues, but unfortunately these rude individuals probably don't read newspapers either.

Anonymous said...

2:44

The last time I went to a race at Charlotte Motor Speedway was also in 91 or 92 to an All Star Race. My wife and I sat behind 6 guys directly in front of us who were drinking,cussing and making making life uncomfortable for those around them. Finally, one of the guys, directly in front of me, suddenly looked funny, then barfed all over his friend next to him along with the people on the row below them. All the friends got up and left the guy laying in the mess. My wife and I also left thinking we didn't have to spend $200 to be a part of that type behavior. The next year, we watched from home. The following years, we've found something better to do with our time.

Anonymous said...

I went to see a band at Snug Harbor during the summer of 2010. There were people trying to talk over the band inside. The Harbor has an outside patio and it was clear skies, ticked me off.

I went to see the symphony about 10 years ago, they botched my ticket purchase and then pulled me out of the show to run my ticket again and it took alomost 20 minutes, haven't been back.

Ronin said...

People talking, all the time, everywhere - when does anyone actually listen?