Audience Behaviour

There are those stories of when motion pictures first started out. When the local town hall would show a silent film accompanied by Gladys, the church’s organ player improvising a piano soundtrack. There’d be a shot of a train coming towards the camera and terrified first-time viewers would run screaming from the room convinced that the train was coming straight for them.

Oh, we can laugh and think now naive movie-viewing audiences were back then, but things haven’t totally changed all that much.

I found myself at a midnight screening of “Ever After”, a retelling of the Cinderella story. A young man, sitting near me appeared to be extremely involved in the film.

At first it appeared that he couldn’t handle the basic essence of a fairy tale, in that it’s told in an over-the-top melodramatic fashion. The good are very good, and the bad are very bad.

As a result of this, he made little comments to his friend whenever things got emotional on the screen. The comments were also made whenever Drew Barrymore’s cleavage was seen.

I told him to be quiet, and thankfully he was. But it didn’t stop.

He think became hyper-involved with the film. In one scene, the wicked stepsister make a nasty remark about Cinderella’s mother, Cinderella punched her, and overcome with emotion, this fellow burst into spontaneous applause.

Another time the wicked stepmother said to the other stepsister that it didn’t matter what she wore to the ball because “You’re only there for the food.” To this the guy went, “Oooooh!”

It took all the self-control I could muster not to dish out some punishment.

I once read that audience behaviour changed after the advent of home video viewing. In the comfort of your own home, it’s quite all right to make hilarious comments about the film you’re watching, to hide under the couch when things get scary, or to start a “USA! USA!” chant when Bruce Willis blows some shit up.

But when you’re in a public movie theatre, it can sometimes be hard for some people to remember that there may be other people who are here for hot movie action, not for your comments, gasps, jokes, and certainly can figure things out on their own and do not require you to make statements such as “Oh, he was in on it right from the beginning!” or “Ahhh… she’s going to kill him now!”

Just sit back, relax, watch the film, and realise that it is a work of fiction. Otherwise don’t act too surprised if someone in the row behind you dumps the ice from her coke down the back your shirt.

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