“I should be a sleight of hand artist.”
July 10, 2015 7:50 AM   Subscribe

Actress Patti LuPone talks about the incident at Shows for Days at Lincoln Center on Wednesday night where she, without breaking character, Ms. LuPone walked into the audience and took an audience member's cell phone who had been texting during the play. Ms. LuPone is not a stranger to taking charge of similar incidents. posted by roomthreeseventeen (229 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
 
i love her so much.
posted by nadawi at 7:57 AM on July 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


Rosa Hires, the general manager of concessions for the Hilton Theater, owned by Live Nation, said most audience members seemed delighted by the new rules. “If anything, people want more food,” she said. “They’re asking for wraps and salads” to be available at the concession stands, she added. “Recently we’ve had people asking for hot dogs.”

Dude, what is it with people? Eat before you go to the theater. Go to dinner after the theater - a time-honored tradition! I do understand that eating while enjoying an artistic experience is satisfying - how many of my books testify to reading during dinner! - but holy mackerel, I don't understand why people with no blood sugar issues have to be able to eat all the things at every possible moment.
posted by Frowner at 8:02 AM on July 10, 2015 [52 favorites]


*standing ovation for Patti LuPone*

LuPone:

We could see her text. She was so uninterested. She showed her husband what she was texting. We talked about it at intermission. When we went out for the second act I was very close to her, and she was still texting. I watched her and thought, “What am I going to do?” At the very end of that scene, we all exit. What I normally do is shake the hand of the people in the front row. I just walked over to her, shook her hand and took her phone. I walked offstage and handed it to the stage manager, who gave it to the house manager.
[...]
I don’t know why they buy the ticket or come to the theater if they can’t let go of the phone. It’s controlling them. They can’t turn it off and can’t stop looking at it. They are truly inconsiderate, self-absorbed people who have no public manners whatsoever. I don’t know what to do anymore. I was hired as an actor, not a policeman of the audience.


Absolutely right. People who do that are disrupting things for both the performers AND the audience. It's absolutely unacceptable, and it's incumbent upon the venue to eject them forthwith.

This isn't even a technology thing. It's a "you're being a disruptive asshole" thing.

The pre-show announcement should be something like "If you use a mobile phone or other device during the performance, you will be immediately ejected from the theatre and no refund will be provided."

Screw this "please turn off your phones" niceness.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 8:02 AM on July 10, 2015 [100 favorites]


I once saw a production of Stephen Sondheim's Sweeny Todd at the Trafalgar Studios theatre here in London. Just before the curtain went up, the actor playing Sweeney came out in full costume and addressed the audience. He spoke in character, as Sweeney, reminding everyone to switch off their cell-phones before the play began. As he spoke he casually withdrew a cut-throat razor from his jacket pocket opened it, and swept it menacingly across the whole width of the auditorium. If he DID hear a phone, he added, he and his little friend would be straight down there in the audience seats to open a few throats. I don't know how often he went through that routine, but I can tell you there were no interruptions that night.
posted by Paul Slade at 8:03 AM on July 10, 2015 [72 favorites]


At home I have a copy of some choir music with her pencil signature because she went to my high school and sang in choir way before I did. I am going to frame it now, because she is a goddamn hometown hero.
posted by grumpybear69 at 8:05 AM on July 10, 2015 [7 favorites]


Would you go to church and pull out a ham sandwich?

Most definitely. Those communion wafers don't satisfy at all.
posted by dr_dank at 8:08 AM on July 10, 2015 [44 favorites]


...I don't understand why people with no blood sugar issues have to be able to eat all the things at every possible moment.

It is my goddamn right as an American to enjoy a foot-long ballpark frank and loaded nachos during Voi che sapete che cosa è amor.
posted by griphus at 8:10 AM on July 10, 2015 [43 favorites]


The pre-show announcement should be something like "If you use a mobile phone or other device during the performance, you will be immediately ejected from the theatre and no refund will be provided."

I don't really think this is acceptable. Culprits should get up to ten seconds to show they are not an on-call heart surgeon and after that nailed above the theatre bar, along with their mobile phone, as an example to others.
posted by biffa at 8:16 AM on July 10, 2015 [29 favorites]


It is my goddamn right as an American to enjoy a foot-long ballpark frank and loaded nachos during Voi che sapete che cosa è amor.

A couple friends are big opera fans, and a few performances ago, they were sitting near a woman who decided to start singing along with the aria.

Natch, not being an operatically trained singer, she was way off key. But loud, like she was at a screening of Sing-A-Long Sound of Music.

After the performance, one of our friends approached her on the way out and screamed into her face "YOU DO NOT SING DURING THE FUCKING ARIA!"

Shit got real at the opera that night.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 8:18 AM on July 10, 2015 [117 favorites]


Standing in front of a dark theater full of people and seeing the phone glow faces ... Its pretty eerie. Disembodied, lit from below, and appearing at one seat then another like will-o'-the-wisp. A theater full of ghosts.

And, the thing is, I don't think its going to get better.
posted by TheLittlePrince at 8:19 AM on July 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


Also I'd like to bring to attention the other violation of theater etiquette from this week from when some guy plugged his phone into an on-set outlet.

Playbill (yes, that Playbill) tracked him down and interviewed him. He's a 19-year-old bro from Long Island and charmingly unrepentant: "Why did he do it? What was the emergency? 'Girls were calling all day. What would you do?'"
posted by griphus at 8:21 AM on July 10, 2015 [25 favorites]


I don't really think this is acceptable. Culprits should get up to ten seconds to show they are not an on-call heart surgeon and after that nailed above the theatre bar, along with their mobile phone, as an example to others.

I'm pretty sure heart surgeons have some nights where they are not on call and can go to a show.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:25 AM on July 10, 2015 [7 favorites]


From the bro:

My mother kept saying, 'I'm sorry, I'm sorry'

And well she should be, you fucking cro-mag.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 8:25 AM on July 10, 2015 [20 favorites]


The pre-show announcement should be something like "If you use a mobile phone or other device during the performance, you will be immediately ejected from the theatre and no refund will be provided."

"If you use a mobile phone or other device during the performance, Patti LuPone will fucking end you."
"Is Patti LuPone even in this show?"
"She will know, madam. She. Will. Know."
posted by Etrigan at 8:26 AM on July 10, 2015 [83 favorites]


She is awesome.
posted by parki at 8:27 AM on July 10, 2015


He's a 19-year-old bro from Long Island and charmingly unrepentant:

Is that how we're spelling asshole these days?
posted by eriko at 8:30 AM on July 10, 2015 [24 favorites]


"charmingly unrepentant" = "asshole with a smile"
posted by librosegretti at 8:31 AM on July 10, 2015 [8 favorites]


Wow, that's pretty galling. As an actor shouldn't be acting, whether than worried the one person who isn't paying attention to you? Sheesh, have an usher talk to them at intermission or something, but the idea that you can just grab someone's personal property is pretty arrogant.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:32 AM on July 10, 2015 [6 favorites]


But loud, like she was at a screening of Sing-A-Long Sound of Music.

One of the interesting psychological things about people who are being assholes at live events is that they really don't hear themselves. That is noise you make yourself is a bit like trying to tickle yourself--it just doesn't get the same reaction as when someone else does exactly the same thing. I'm always amazed by people who'll do things like jiggle their keys or riffle their programs or tap their shoes (for one awful year my subscriber seatmate at the opera had shoes that squeaked on the floor every time he moved them and he had some sort of restless-leg syndrome thing going on). I think most of those people would be really pissed off if their neighbors were making the kind of noise they were making, but they just don't hear the noise they're making themselves.

And, yes--anyone who turns on their cellphone during a performance should simply be ejected from the theater without a refund. Preferably, their phone would be returned to them in several pieces, too.
posted by yoink at 8:32 AM on July 10, 2015 [8 favorites]


the idea that you can just grab someone's personal property is pretty arrogant.

It pales into utter insignificance in comparison to the arrogance of someone who thinks they have a right to spoil the evening of every single person in the theater behind them just so they can check their Facebook or whatever.

In a darkened theater, when you're trying to focus on the stage, having a little light shining at you from the audience is like having someone wave their hand in front of your face when you're trying to read a book.
posted by yoink at 8:35 AM on July 10, 2015 [131 favorites]


It makes the dullards who go to plays / concerts and promptly fall asleep beside you and snore look good, I guess (most recently a couple weeks' ago at Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, but also half the classical concerts I have ever gone to).
posted by aught at 8:36 AM on July 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'd be applauding her if she took the cell phone, and then punched the patron in the face.

How many warnings does it take? There are, like, 3, EVERY TIME YOU GO OUT. It's not like the rules change for every venue or outing. Makes me crazy, this, and I can't begin to imagine what it must be like for the performers, who put their heart and soul into a performance.

I'll shaddup now.

[ But I'm filming this thread]
posted by parki at 8:39 AM on July 10, 2015 [13 favorites]


The pre-show announcement should be something like "If you use a mobile phone or other device during the performance, you will be immediately ejected from the theatre and no refund will be provided."

Screw this "please turn off your phones" niceness.


Different kind of theater, but one of the best moviegoing experiences I've had recently was a preview of Inside Out that ran at SIFF. Since the showing was a couple of weeks before the release date, all electronic devices had to be handed over at the door and guards were on hand to eject anyone who managed to sneak in a device and be stupid enough to whip it out during the screening. If movie theaters started doing this for every showing I'd be pretty stoked about it.
posted by palomar at 8:40 AM on July 10, 2015 [7 favorites]


*obligatory Toby .gif*
posted by Fizz at 8:40 AM on July 10, 2015 [10 favorites]


I also predict it's only a matter of time before an actor tries to confiscate a phone like this and gets successfully sued by the audience member. Which is why we can't have enjoy watching good things anymore.
posted by aught at 8:42 AM on July 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


Standing in front of a dark theater full of people and seeing the phone glow faces ... Its pretty eerie. Disembodied, lit from below, and appearing at one seat then another like will-o'-the-wisp. A theater full of ghosts.

While not quite the same, I noticed a similar eeriness during a recent nighttime flight between SoCal and the Bay Area. Cabin lights dimmed, only a few overhead reading lamps lit, and up and down the tube the dull blue glow of smartphones and tablets rising up from laps and seatback trays.
posted by notyou at 8:43 AM on July 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


If movie theaters started doing this for every showing I'd be pretty stoked about it.

If they did, I might start going to see movies in the theater again.
posted by aught at 8:44 AM on July 10, 2015 [8 favorites]


If movie theaters started doing this for every showing...

Where would be a lot of fights and lawsuits. Perhaps charge tickets to the fights?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:46 AM on July 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


the idea that you can just grab someone's personal property is pretty arrogant

If you or I did it, yes.
Patti LuPone, however, gets a pass.
posted by Atom Eyes at 8:46 AM on July 10, 2015 [17 favorites]


Sheesh, have an usher talk to them at intermission or something, but the idea that you can just grab someone's personal property is pretty arrogant.

As is the idea that no one should ever suffer the fantastically minor consequence of not having her cell phone for like five minutes after breaking a longstanding, well-established, incredibly well-publicized rule not only of etiquette but of admission.
posted by Etrigan at 8:47 AM on July 10, 2015 [42 favorites]


Shit got real at the opera that night.

You call that "getting real?" If it had happened at my local opera, she would have been shanked in her seat in the first 30 seconds.
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:47 AM on July 10, 2015 [8 favorites]


Oh man I had forgotten about the 2009 incident. "Who do you think you ARE?" and demanding the offender be thrown out. I love her so much. Go get 'em, Patti.
posted by everybody had matching towels at 8:48 AM on July 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


> Wow, that's pretty galling. As an actor shouldn't be acting, whether than worried the one person who isn't paying attention to you? Sheesh, have an usher talk to them at intermission or something, but the idea that you can just grab someone's personal property is pretty arrogant.

I agree in general, but I will shed no tears today. I think other posters are right that this just reflects the failing of theaters to be better enforcers of good behavior.

At Alamo Drafthouse, if you're being disruptive — and that includes a noisy phone or the distracting glow of a text message — you get one warning, and then if you keep doing it you're out, without a refund. Of course (a) the Alamo Drafthouse is younger and has fewer tourists than a Broadway crowd, so there's less pearl-clutching all around; (b) a movie at the Drafthouse necessarily involves wait staff circulating around the theater, so they can be better watchdogs.

But this is one of those odd situations where the unmitigated gall of violating clear rules of etiquette that exist for a good reason somehow seems like more of a transgression than the taking of private property. It would be interesting to see the aggrieved party try to press charges; she might win a civil case on narrow technical grounds at the cost of half a dozen two-minutes'-hate appearances on the front page of the New York Post.
posted by savetheclocktower at 8:48 AM on July 10, 2015 [11 favorites]


charmingly unrepentant
In retrospect, what would he say to the cast? "Hey, I'm sorry if I delayed your show five minutes. But you got a lot of attention from this, so maybe I made your show a little better [better known]."
That's not charming, it's just unrepentant. I mean, I think the whole incident is pretty funny, but holy cow, what a bag of dicks.
posted by uncleozzy at 8:51 AM on July 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


Everyone talks about how great the Alamo is, but I swear I'd almost rather put up with a few texters than try to watch a movie in an increasingly tipsy crowd while servers roam around delivering drinks.
posted by Ian A.T. at 8:51 AM on July 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


At every single concert at Largo in LA they begin with a welcome from the manager and a stern warning that anyone seen using a phone or any other device with a screen will be ejected. The audience always applauds this warning lustily. And this is for amplified pop/rock type music (the kind of music which, these days, in most venues, you watch over a sea of glowing devices). I think it's pretty clear that the vast majority of the audience are in strong agreement about what is and isn't acceptable at a concert. I just wish more venues would get serious about giving strong reminders to people.
posted by yoink at 8:51 AM on July 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


I once sat beside a woman in the LA symphony who used the light from her phone to put on a full palette of make-up, a process only interrupted by wild bouts of applause during any single break of more than 3 seconds by the soloist.

If only Patti LuPone were there that evening.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 8:51 AM on July 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


They never would have put up with this nonsense in Shakespeare's day, I tell you. An actor who tried that would have been torn to shreds.
posted by rodlymight at 8:51 AM on July 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


Dude, what is it with people? Eat before you go to the theater. Go to dinner after the theater - a time-honored tradition!

I'd never eat in the (non -movie) theater but I do love that they'll sell you a drink in a sippy-cup to take in with you now. A plastic sippy-cup of Maker's Mark defiantly improved the theater experience.
posted by octothorpe at 8:52 AM on July 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


This happens occasionally, especially at places like the Lincoln Center, which does a great deal of outreach to tourist audiences and infrequent theatergoers. It has to. In most places, if you only market yourself to the hardcore of regular theatergoers, you get to run a tiny, nonprofit theater with an audience of 70-year-olds. And so every so often there will be somebody who is clueless to the conventions of live theater.

It happens. What I find striking is the glee with which people in the theater community respond to these stories. I mean, this is a community that makes at best shrugging efforts to reach out to the larger community, and many theaters I have been to offer no formal mechanism for communicating their expectations. It's live performance, which is the world that we chose to work in, and so there is always the risk of something unexpected happening -- that's actually the real reason for live theater, to see a unique performance, one that has never happened before and will not happen again. And so once in a very great while the uniqueness will come from an oblivious audience member, which is irritating, yes, and that audience member's behavior should be addressed, but really is no great shakes. Just part of the business of doing theater, and a pretty rare part.

So why the glee? Why the contempt? Why do these stories get shared, and reshared, with cheerful expression that these people should experience violence?

I don't know, but I don't really like it. Live performance is ailing in this country: There are half as many theaters in Omaha, where I now live, as there were 15 years ago, and those that do exist are terrified to do challenging work, because they don't want to alienate their dwindling audience base. Before I moved back here, I was an arts critic and playwright in Minneapolis, and have seen a similar trend there.

And my concern is not just that we don't have the economic luxury to be assholes to our audience members. It's that we shouldn't be. We really shouldn't. Everybody gets to make an occasional mistake, but by pillorying them in public, we are communicating that we don't have any patience for that. Yes, if they are chronic misbehavors, they should be discouraged, but at the moment they're just potential audience members who are a little clueless, and they are our guests, and they are guests in a world with standards of behavior that are a little different than most places (even most live performance, including sports and music), and so we shouldn't be upset that this happens now and then.

Actually, I'm amazed it doesn't happen more often, seeing how often people use their phones during movies.

And maybe, if this were the rest of the world, it wouldn't matter. Just toss the bums out. But this is theater, and most American theater is done is small venues of a hundred seats or less, and that means that every empty seat counts. We really can't afford to have contempt for audience members because they make occasional mistakes. And we shouldn't, because we're also not just faceless nobodyies working for bosses we don't see at a job we hate confronted with idiots who abuse us. We're a collection of real people doing these things for little or no money because we love to do it, and that should be a recipe for charity and tolerance, rather than the most irritable, intolerant, fuck-em-if-they-don't-like it behavior we can muster toward people who are possible future regular audience members.
posted by maxsparber at 8:53 AM on July 10, 2015 [29 favorites]


I'm pretty sure heart surgeons have some nights where they are not on call and can go to a show.

Pretty sure that anyone with the possibility of a heart surgery level potential emergency situation can give their name and seat number to the house manager and a theater contact number to their head nurse and be contacted quickly with minimum disruption.
posted by sammyo at 8:53 AM on July 10, 2015 [10 favorites]


Most Broadway theatres also make sure that your sippy cup is ice free, too, so you don't make noise.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:54 AM on July 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


They never would have put up with this nonsense in Shakespeare's day, I tell you. An actor who tried that would have been torn to shreds.

I believe you'll find, from contemporary reports, that the "no-cellphone" rule was universally adhered to in Shakespeare's day.
posted by yoink at 8:54 AM on July 10, 2015 [30 favorites]


Everybody gets to make an occasional mistake, but by pillorying them in public, we are communicating that we don't have any patience for that.

As is mentioned in the NYTimes article, the woman was texting for the entire show. That's not a mistake.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:55 AM on July 10, 2015 [38 favorites]


Oh god, it was probably my sister.
posted by sexyrobot at 8:55 AM on July 10, 2015 [15 favorites]


Why did he do it? What was the emergency? "Girls were calling all day. What would you do?"

Shakespeare would have understood that "fly Betties were blowing up my celly to swing on my schween" is perfectly acceptable.
posted by dr_dank at 8:56 AM on July 10, 2015 [8 favorites]


Video of the guy who jumped on the set at Hand To God at this link.

The HTG story touched off a whole flood of "wait, I got a good one" stories from my theater cronies on Facebook. (And I think I also have a second-degree-of-separation connection to Beowulf Borrit, the set designer in question.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:56 AM on July 10, 2015


Everyone talks about how great the Alamo is, but I swear I'd almost rather put up with a few texters than try to watch a movie in an increasingly tipsy crowd while servers roam around delivering drinks.

Have you been to the Alamo? The servers are very good at staying out of the way, and, in the 4 years I lived in Austin, I never saw someone disruptively drunk in the Alamo (as opposed to say, music shows and parks and taking the bus to work).
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:58 AM on July 10, 2015 [8 favorites]


As is mentioned in the NYTimes article, the woman was texting for the entire show. That's not a mistake.

No, it's a catastrophic failure of the staff to immediately address the problem, and I'm astonished that the Lincoln Center doesn't have a mechanism for dealing with this.
posted by maxsparber at 8:59 AM on July 10, 2015 [20 favorites]


We really can't afford to have contempt for audience members because they make occasional mistakes.

Not texting during a performance isn't some weird, arcane rule that only seasoned theater-goers can possibly hope to understand. This isn't some sort of monacle-dropping "Oh, I say, the port always circulates clockwise" thing. I agree that theaters should make sure that they announce at the outset that all devices with screens should be turned off (and I'll bet this particular theater did--because those warnings are ubiquitous), but the idea that this poor woman had somehow been raised by wolves and just didn't understand that the point of a night at the theater wasn't to give you a nice dark room in which to catch up on your texting is pretty silly.
posted by yoink at 8:59 AM on July 10, 2015 [54 favorites]


Long long before cell phones, Andres Segovia was notorious for pausing his performances to silently stare at the audience if he decided they were being too noisy.
posted by Insert Clever Name Here at 9:00 AM on July 10, 2015 [8 favorites]


We really can't afford to have contempt for audience members because they make occasional mistakes.

Doing something the theatre has told the audience over and over again explicitly not to do is not a mistake, it's a belief that the rules don't apply to them. We all know people who think the rules don't apply to them and seeing one of them get little bit of comeuppance is very satisfying.
posted by everybody had matching towels at 9:00 AM on July 10, 2015 [51 favorites]


They never would have put up with this nonsense in Shakespeare's day, I tell you. An actor who tried that would have been torn to shreds.

Well, in Shakespeare's day you usually weren't allowed to bring, say, armies of Spaniards or crypto-Catholics into the theater because of the disruptions, so you need to vary your scale a bit.
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:02 AM on July 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


If movie theaters started doing this for every showing...

Where would be a lot of fights and lawsuits. Perhaps charge tickets to the fights?


I guess I can see where idiots who aren't able to read signage might not realize they're entering a business that requires you to check your cell phone, but... lawsuits? Does anyone sue the government because they had to hand over their cell phone when entering a courthouse? What about businesses that restrict other things being brought into their establishment, like alcohol in a day care or dogs in a dentist's office?
posted by palomar at 9:02 AM on July 10, 2015


Not texting during a performance isn't some weird, arcane rule that only seasoned theater-goers can possibly hope to understand.

And I think you will find it happens extremely infrequently and the people who do it are especially clueless. So you give them the clue, and if they fail to catch on, you disinvite them.

But, Christ, people behave like, oh my god, it's impossible that everybody on earth doesn't intuitively understand this. They don't. For some a trip to the theater is as rare as a trip to buy port. I think you'll find a lot of the people are capable of learning.
posted by maxsparber at 9:02 AM on July 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


I heard Ms. LuPone once stabbed a guy for unwrapping a lozenge.
posted by bondcliff at 9:02 AM on July 10, 2015 [14 favorites]


We really can't afford to have contempt for audience members because they make occasional mistakes.

Can theaters that charge about $150 a ticket not ignore the degradation of the experience for the audience at large that doesn't text? Is it fair that the actors and the theatergoers are brought out of the experience by a big bright light someone won't turn off?

Look, if you're on call, you put your thing on buzz, you go to the lobby if you must. That's not an issue. Happens literally all the time. (That and urgent bathroom breaks). But if you're ignorant of the rules, you should get tossed. Fan interference.
posted by inturnaround at 9:04 AM on July 10, 2015 [13 favorites]


And I think you will find it happens extremely infrequently and the people who do it are especially clueless.

I see about 50 Broadway productions a year. Extremely infrequently are not words I would use.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:05 AM on July 10, 2015 [25 favorites]


Shakespeare would have understood that "fly Betties were blowing up my celly to swing on my schween" is perfectly acceptable.

In the original draft of Romeo and Juliet, the fateful message to Romeo wasn't delivered because Lord Capulet switched the family from iPhones to Droids and the iMessage bug kept Romeo from getting the text that said "poison fake bae 💋"
posted by griphus at 9:05 AM on July 10, 2015 [22 favorites]


"I think you'll find a lot of the people are capable of learning."

How should they be taught?
posted by parki at 9:07 AM on July 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


And my concern is not just that we don't have the economic luxury to be assholes to our audience members. It's that we shouldn't be. We really shouldn't. Everybody gets to make an occasional mistake, but by pillorying them in public, we are communicating that we don't have any patience for that.

On the other hand, there is a goldmine opportunity here for some kind of interactive piece involving audience members whipping out their phones with the expectation that actors will haul them onstage and force them to participate in the show. It would be some kind of love letter to everyone who hates when people take out there phones.

Now I am trying to imagine how this would work and it's going to eat at me all day.
posted by Going To Maine at 9:09 AM on July 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


It won't solve the whole 'I'm going to video this experience instead of actually experiencing this experience' people, but if we'd un-outlaw cell jammers (license to schools, theaters, churches, etc?) it would take care of some the "especially clueless". Of course, then that would just lead to a market in signal boosters/descramblers. Nevermind.
posted by eclectist at 9:09 AM on July 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


I see about 50 Broadway productions a year. Extremely infrequently are not words I would use.

I have, on and off, seen about 150 plays per year, and it is infrequent. Broadway is rather unique, in that it's audience is largely made up of tourists, and I think it demonstrates just how non-intuitive these rules are.

Look, we can keep on blaming audience members. I've seen other businesses who decided the problem was their patrons, and that's always gone great.

How should they be taught?

Well, I can mostly speak about smaller theaters, because that's where my greatest familiarity is, but you would be amazed at how many do not bother with a preshow announcement saying "Please turn your phone off." But I have also have seven shows done in New York, and the announcements weren't made there. If the rules aren't even being communicated, we shouldn't be surprised when they aren't followed.
posted by maxsparber at 9:10 AM on July 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


Wait what's rare about buying port?
posted by The Whelk at 9:10 AM on July 10, 2015 [6 favorites]


I think this comes down to entitlement and not a learning curve. There was a thread about this on Talkin' Broadway the other day and someone wrote:

The phone did not ring but the lady next to me insisted on checking her messages. I asked her to stop. She told me to mind my own business. At the end of the act I let her know my thoughts in no uncertain terms. She said I wouldn't understand and that I am clearly not a parent. It went downhill from there.
I would give my left nut if they could put blocks on the signals and have a trap door to rid the theatre of these idiots.


I mean, I'm pretty sure there isn't anything about parenting that requires you to have your cell phone on during a show.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:11 AM on July 10, 2015 [6 favorites]


"Shakespeare's audience was perhaps not as well behaved as you are. Since the play was
so long, people would leave their seats and go looking for food to eat and ale to drink
during the performance, or perhaps go visit with their friends. Some playgoers, especially those who had saved up money to come and see the play, were extremely annoyed if they were unable to hear the actors and would tell rowdy audience members to quiet down."
posted by Peach at 9:14 AM on July 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


We really can't afford to have contempt for audience members because they make occasional mistakes.

But it's still cool for those of us who are not in the theater community to have contempt for our fellow audience members, right?
posted by Atom Eyes at 9:14 AM on July 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


I think it demonstrates just how non-intuitive these rules are.

I think the exact opposite. If you have any common sense at all, it's not hard to intuit you should turn your cell phone off during a play.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:15 AM on July 10, 2015 [20 favorites]


> If the rules aren't even being communicated, we shouldn't be surprised when they aren't followed.

In this particular instance, I'm nearly certain the rules were communicated. My girlfriend and I went to see The King and I last week at the theater adjoining the one where Shows for Days is taking place, and they made the announcement before the show and after intermission — and wrote it down in a half-page insert inside the Playbill.
posted by savetheclocktower at 9:15 AM on July 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


But it's still cool for those of us who are not in the theater community to have contempt for our fellow audience members, right?

Yeah, have fun with that.
posted by maxsparber at 9:15 AM on July 10, 2015


Oh, this is nothing. I have season tickets at a place where the family behind me is large, rich (or at least I'm told they donate a lot of money to the theater), and have a mentally handicapped adult son who talks very loudly through the first half of the show. Usually the family hit their limit on this and take him out before the end of the first act, but the entire audience can hear this guy regardless of where they sit. There really isn't anything anyone can do about it without super social awkwardness erupting, given his condition. And note what I said about the donations. But I seriously wonder why they take him if they can't even make it to act 2.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:17 AM on July 10, 2015


I agree that it would help if the rules were communicated. I think placing the heads of offenders on pikes outside the theatres would help with such communication.
posted by Shmuel510 at 9:17 AM on July 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


But, Christ, people behave like, oh my god, it's impossible that everybody on earth doesn't intuitively understand this. They don't.

Maxsparber, what, exactly, is your point? You say the rules are "unintuitive" and you also say that in the 150 or so shows you see per year that this happens "infrequently." So...which is it? By your own testimony, these seem to be rules that the vast majority of people understand and obey (which, as a frequent concert and theater-goer myself, is also my impression).

You are also claiming that we can't expect people to understand these rules without anyone communicating them. True enough. Is there anybody in this thread, though, who is arguing that theaters shouldn't communicate these rules? So far as I can see, the consensus of the thread is that theaters both already do and should do more to insist firmly on these rules.

Finally, you wonder why people seize on events like this and like to vent their outrage about them. Well, isn't it obvious that it's precisely because this is the way that social norms are generated and maintained? As you say, norms of acceptable behavior at the theater are not innate, they need to be established and reinforced by the community. This is how communities establish and reinforce norms: they talk about behavior they have collectively decided to deprecate and, well, deprecate it.

You're simultaneously saying "people need to be educated about what the norms are!" and throwing up your hands in horror that people are engaging in precisely that process.
posted by yoink at 9:17 AM on July 10, 2015 [30 favorites]


yoink: "... someone who thinks they have a right to spoil the evening of every single person in the theater behind them ..."

But yoink, they were probably a doctor on call who also had babysitters watching their deathly ill infant at the same time that their brother's time-sensitive release from a North Korean prison was being negotiated by Boutros Boutros Ghali!

... or so goes every version of the stories people tell to excuse the actions of these assholes.
posted by barnacles at 9:19 AM on July 10, 2015 [6 favorites]


Finally, you wonder why people seize on events like this and like to vent their outrage about them. Well, isn't it obvious that it's precisely because this is the way that social norms are generated and maintained?

Actually, I think it's because people like being dicks about other people when they think there is a consensus that this will be okay.

And, fine, be a dick. My point is that it's not actually very good for theater, and I actually think I've made that case enough not to have to rehash it.
posted by maxsparber at 9:20 AM on July 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


Christ, I'm a dick.
posted by parki at 9:22 AM on July 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


> ... or so goes every version of the stories people tell to excuse the actions of these assholes.

The only moral text message is my text message!
posted by savetheclocktower at 9:22 AM on July 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


But I have also have seen shows done in New York, and the announcements weren't made there. If the rules aren't even being communicated, we shouldn't be surprised when they aren't followed.

You may have seen shows in New York, but I have managed and worked on shows in New York. I can assure you that every single show I have done there is such an announcement, and there has also been such an announcement at every single show I have seen in New York, either with a note in the program, a sign in the lobby, or an announcement from the stage.

It is possible that you didn't notice because for you, such an announcement has become the equivalent of the pre-flight safety announcement which you tune out because you've heard it before and know what to do.

But this is being communicated, to audiences, at length, repeatedly. And not only are they not getting it, they are frequently arguing either that a) their situation is special, or that b) they paid good money to see this show and if they want to have their cell phone out the whole time, they can because the customer is always right.

This isn't a lack of education, it's sheer cussedness.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:24 AM on July 10, 2015 [69 favorites]


My point is that it's not actually very good for theater, and I actually think I've made that case enough not to have to rehash it.

No, you've airily handwaved a hypothesis, without providing a shred of evidence to support any part of it. And you've descended into personal name-calling, while signalling to everyone that you are the sole occupant of the moral highground.
posted by yoink at 9:25 AM on July 10, 2015 [20 favorites]


I think it demonstrates just how non-intuitive these rules are

"Turn off your goddamn phone" is not 'non-intuitive.' It's broadcast before every movie, it's printed in programs, it's announced before most live shows.

It's pure entitlement, and cluelessness that your bright shiny device in a darkened room isn't going to be immediately distracting to others.

While I take your point about live theatre and being hostile to audiences, is it not worth considering that alienating a few self-entitled jerkfaces is probably a much better step than alienating the vast majority of the audience who wants to watch the show without being distracted by these people? Half the reason I rarely go to movies anymore is because of the people who can't leave their phones alone for 90 minutes. Seems like that would be a pretty solid concern if you're worried about butts in seats.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:27 AM on July 10, 2015 [28 favorites]


...it's a catastrophic failure of the staff to immediately address the problem, and I'm astonished that the Lincoln Center doesn't have a mechanism for dealing with this.

And that really gets at Patti LuPone's point in all of this - like, "venue people, get it together and DO something about it or I'm going to keep going down there and taking phones but fuck it's exhausting and if this shit continues, I'm just quitting the stage"*

Actual Patti LuPone quote, from the video in the FPP: "I'm on your side, I do it for you."

* Not a direct quote, but that's kind of a tl;dr of where she's going with all this.

Look, we can keep on blaming audience members. I've seen other businesses who decided the problem was their patrons, and that's always gone great.

And as Patti LuPone says in her pre-show address in that video, she's upset that it's two or three people in a performance who ruin it for everyone else. Forcing that disruptive minority to leave or at least cease their disruptive behaviour vastly improves the experience for everyone else, and tells the rest of the audience that you're on their side and want them to have a great experience.

Excusing that disruptive behaviour as "mistakes" is contempt for almost the entirety of the audience as well as the performers.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 9:27 AM on July 10, 2015 [16 favorites]


what if you're at Ford's Theater and you have to text Abraham Lincoln LOOK OUT BEHIND U

wouldn't you want to be able to use your phone

wouldn't you want The President to be able to use his

makes you think, huh
posted by prize bull octorok at 9:30 AM on July 10, 2015 [45 favorites]


As a performer on the stage (albeit in music, not theater), I will tell you that when someone's face suddenly lights up, it is ridiculously distracting. Same with cell phone cameras. Even if you turn off the flash, the amber autofocus lamp is still crazy bright, yes even from the back of a 2500 seat theater. Just don't do that!

The worst of my experience though was when some lady's panic alarm was going off in her purse under her seat, making a noise like a phaser going off for about 25 minutes. She couldn't hear it because she was elderly and had apparently lost her high-end hearing, and with the acoustics in the hall it was almost impossible to track down where it was coming from. The conductor ended up leaving the podium to get the stage manager to track it down, it was awful.
posted by KathrynT at 9:30 AM on July 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


So why the glee? Why the contempt? Why do these stories get shared, and reshared, with cheerful expression that these people should experience violence?

Jesus Christ, it's because they're acting like entitled assholes. I've never been to The Opera, and I'm pretty damn sure I'd know exactly how to act. People who go through life going "who me?" as they bumble and annoy and jockey themselves into the way of other people trying to enjoy a basic peaceful existence need a solid THUMP on the dome every once in awhile, and the rest of us enjoy these stories because it's basic human fucking nature to want to shame a dunce, and for a crowd of people who have been offended by such dunces to vicariously call them out.

It's like we all grabbed the dumb fucking person's phone. I don't see movies often for this specific reason, but once I was watching "King Kong" in theaters and debating how much of an issue to make about this guy who wouldn't stop TALKING on his phone, when someone in the audience literally grabbed the phone from the dude's hand, threw it into his chest, and screamed into his face. That was an egregious violation of basic social norms, EXCEPT in the context of this fucking person disrupting hundreds of dollars' worth of money invested in a shared, quiet, immersive experience.

Don't let tolerance turn into WON'T SOMEONE THINK OF THE ASSHOLES
posted by aydeejones at 9:31 AM on July 10, 2015 [60 favorites]


prize bull octorok, but I would assume Lincoln's cell phone would be off. What then?
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:32 AM on July 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


makes you think, huh

SIC SEMPER CELPHONUS
posted by griphus at 9:33 AM on July 10, 2015 [9 favorites]


Actually, the other night on the uptown 1 train a young woman sang an aria beautifully. Some folks were still using their devices but hey, odd set of circumstances. Afterwards, the hat was passed, I put a buck in and we got to talking. Turns out she's trying to save up money to an opera school in Italy. I hope she succeeds.
posted by jonmc at 9:34 AM on July 10, 2015 [6 favorites]


prize bull octorok, but I would assume Lincoln's cell phone would be off. What then?

I would casually deploy my portable semaphore system and alert the President (who learned to read semaphore using his coal scuttle while only a boy). Problem solved.

Well, except for the disruption to the play, but it wasn't that good a play.
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:37 AM on July 10, 2015 [6 favorites]


maxsparber: Everybody gets to make an occasional mistake, but by pillorying them in public, we are communicating that we don't have any patience for that.

roomthreeseventeen: As is mentioned in the NYTimes article, the woman was texting for the entire show. That's not a mistake.

Hey now, don't let the basic facts of this specific situation get in the way of our hallowed "I am magnanimous and above it all such that I don't understand why people are so upset by basic social norms being disrupted on a group level and how shaming genuinely bad behavior is a thing that people do naturally" comment.
posted by aydeejones at 9:37 AM on July 10, 2015 [8 favorites]


Final comment: "pillorying in public" is an exaggeration of course but public call-out, with most of the emphasis on the activity and not the specific person who did it, is exactly how these social norms are reinforced and it's gone that way since the first turtle jumped on another turtle and was like "is this how it goes"
posted by aydeejones at 9:39 AM on July 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


I love being just old enough to not give any fucks about telling people to shut the fuck up or put their phone away (I do this slightly more diplomatically). I am done with silently seething at a blue glow.
posted by desjardins at 9:39 AM on July 10, 2015 [13 favorites]


Well, except for the disruption to the play, but it wasn't that good a play.

Waddaya mean? It killed I tell ya!

(What, too soon?)
posted by yoink at 9:42 AM on July 10, 2015 [6 favorites]


I would permanently smash my phone into a million pieces for a chance to see Patti LuPone perform. Good on her for calling out these sorts of self-absorbed assholes.
posted by futureisunwritten at 9:44 AM on July 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


The worst of my experience though was when some lady's panic alarm was going off in her purse under her seat, making a noise like a phaser going off for about 25 minutes. She couldn't hear it because she was elderly and had apparently lost her high-end hearing, and with the acoustics in the hall it was almost impossible to track down where it was coming from. The conductor ended up leaving the podium to get the stage manager to track it down, it was awful.

My own war story: a quiet, two-person, intimate scene during Act II of a show I worked on. A woman in the audience had neglected to turn off her cell phone, and it rang in the middle of the scene. And she got flustered and panicky and decided the best way to handle this was "just let it go to voicemail". And, okay, I admit that that's fair.

Except, as her ring tone, she had the sound of a clucking chicken.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:46 AM on July 10, 2015 [21 favorites]


So, nobody has to worry about me, because I can't stand theaters or concerts (the live ones are the worst), and have more or less vowed that nobody's dragging me into a prison like that ever again.

But I will say that if I heard an announcement that people were to turn off their phones, I would assume that the issue was the noise. It would never occur to me that anybody cared about the light from the screens.

So, sorry, no, not obvious.
posted by Hizonner at 9:47 AM on July 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


I would go to the theater several times a week if I could afford it. But it is prohibitively expensive in a way that most other entertainment options are not, and although its expense is for good reasons (paying people! beautiful sets! costumes! insurance!), that doesn't make me able to magically afford it.

When it comes to people not attending theater performances, I think cost is a lot more relevant than cell phones. I live in an area with an incredible variety of theater performances, but attending more than one once in awhile would leave me incapable of paying my student loans, so instead I go to free museums. (Which are always packed, by the way, even in the middle of the day, during the workweek, by people of incredible diversity. People still love art.)

The panic over "the old art forms are dyingggggg" often happens in an ideological context where cost is treated as incidental. It is not. See also: why aren't millenials buying houses, cars, having kids, traveling, starting businesses, getting necessary dental work done, and on and on and on. When I was in college and I had access to student tickets to the Metropolitan Opera for $10, you better believe I went. Now that those options are no longer available to me despite my net worth being far, far lower (educational debt is GOOD debt), not so much.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 9:47 AM on July 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


I don't think I've seen one show in the last seven or eight years, from local community theater, to blockbuster movies, to concerts at my local arts center, to Broadway musicals in NYC, there there wasn't an announcement, and usually something in the program, about not using your phone during the performance.

It's just something that is done now. It's always done. If lack of education is the reason people are using their phones it's not the education in the theater they are lacking, it's happening way before that.
posted by bondcliff at 9:47 AM on July 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


In Shakespeare's day audience members could piss in the corner without missing a scene, but this ain't Shakespeare's day. Turn your phone off.

If I ran a theater with such problems, I might start a pre-show ritual to make everyone aware of their phones. To win a prize (maybe a ticket refund? or cast signatures?), require audience members to get out their phones right now and call a certain number to register the numbers of the phones they are carrying. After the contest, I would warn them to turn off those same phones immediately because you are now going to autodial all of those numbers and eject (with no refund this time) anyone whose phone is heard ringing. Phones out, phones on, contest, yay, phones off, and phones put away.
posted by pracowity at 9:48 AM on July 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


Wait what's rare about buying port?

I say sir, you buy yours? I drink from the family cellar, or the cases my godfather put down for me on the day of my birth, when he entered me onto the rolls at White's.
posted by Hypatia at 9:48 AM on July 10, 2015 [13 favorites]


I would assume that the issue was the noise. It would never occur to me that anybody cared about the light from the screens.

In what world?
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:48 AM on July 10, 2015 [7 favorites]


"But I will say that if I heard an announcement that people were to turn off their phones, I would assume that the issue was the noise. It would never occur to me that anybody cared about the light from the screens."

Hizonner - rationale notwithstanding, I'm guessing you'd ... turn your phone off.
posted by parki at 9:54 AM on July 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


In what world?
What does that mean?

Not being used to sitting around in close quarters in semi-darkened rooms, it would not be obvious to me that the light was an issue.

I'd probably figure it out fairly soon, but it's not intuitive ahead of time. I didn't think of it reading this very thread until it was mentioned. Actually I was really confused about how this person even noticed that anybody in the audience was looking at a phone.

I'm not denying that the light is a problem, but I support maxsparber's claim that it's not just intuitively obvious that that's the case.
posted by Hizonner at 9:54 AM on July 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm on the organizing committee of popular weekend outdoor festival. It's great, busy and fun with the exception of knowing that at least part of the time I will be dealing with 'issues' stemming from the type of person that thinks they are above the rules and social expectations of such an event.

No matter what you do and how much you let people know about different rules and policies there is always the few that think the because they "multitude of reasons" get to be special and should be treated as special. I've found that the majority of people that are actually unaware of said rule are apologetic and cooperative when they are informed. These people I find are the minority. Most rule breakers know damn well that what they are doing is wrong or shitty and either don't care or come up with sometimes the most ridiculous excuses of why it doesn't apply to them cause they're special.

So yeah nice looking older lady did get kicked out of the park (with no refund) after repeatedly breaking the no smoking inside the fence rule. I'm sorry (not sorry) that it was embarassing for you and your family to be escorted out by two security guards. And no, unless your dog is a certified service animal you cannot bring them in and yes you will have to leave after sneaking fido inside in your big purse. It's not my problem that you made no arrangements for fido and no we will not be making arrangements for you. You bought a weekend inclusive ticket, used it for two days and decided not to come on the third day? Sorry no refunds on used tickets. And no I don't really care (smile) that you know the mayor.

None of this is about cellphones it the same pattern type though. With these types no amount of informing works. They're special. Some sort of shaming or blunt action is the only thing that works and many times that just means some form of just being made to leave and let the oodles of other people enjoy the show.
posted by Jalliah at 9:55 AM on July 10, 2015 [17 favorites]


I'm not denying that the light is a problem, but I support maxsparber's claim that it's not just intuitively obvious that that's the case.

OK, well, I don't agree with that at all. I think it's really, really obvious.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:56 AM on July 10, 2015 [13 favorites]


So why the glee? Why the contempt? Why do these stories get shared, and reshared, with cheerful expression that these people should experience violence?

Because we've all had a performance ruined by some asshat with their bright-screened phone on a few rows in front of us. Where we couldn't ask them to put it away. Or near to us, and, we spent half the show wondering if (or how) we should say something.

Maybe that you're lighting up a lot of seats isn't intuitive when you're at home reading your monitor, but when you're in a dark theater, it's very obvious.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 9:57 AM on July 10, 2015 [11 favorites]


I'd probably figure it out fairly soon, but it's not intuitive ahead of time.

They ask you to turn them off. It shouldn't require an act's worth of exposition to list all the reasons that they're asking you, with caveats and exceptions based on job or parental status or medical necessity. Sure, any person in the theater may be there for the first time and not know all the nuances, but off is off.
posted by Etrigan at 9:59 AM on July 10, 2015 [22 favorites]


> So, sorry, no, not obvious.

For those of us who do frequent concerts/films/live theater/other dark venues, it's obvious. Since you never go, you never have to worry about.
posted by rtha at 9:59 AM on July 10, 2015 [14 favorites]


> Because we've all had a performance ruined by some asshat with their bright-screened phone on a few rows in front of us. Where we couldn't ask them to put it away. Or near to us, and, we spent half the show wondering if (or how) we should say something.

Yeah, as a fellow audience member you might have wanted to call someone out, but then worried that you'd create more of a disruption than existed in the first place, or you're in the middle of the row and can't easily get out to find an usher. Whereas an actor (maybe not all actors, but certainly Patti Fuckin’ LuPone) has the authority to create that disruption.

And so when that does happen, it's so satisfying because you're thinking of all those asshole micro-aggressions that you didn't have the chutzpah to litigate. Like all the assholes are on the same team, and you're on the other team, and for once the assholes got scored on.
posted by savetheclocktower at 10:04 AM on July 10, 2015 [28 favorites]


I don't see where the texting theater patron really has a case. It's not theft to temporarily deprive a person of a device as long as it's easily returned. It is, in fact, a crime to use a phone in a theater in New York. And the patron gets what they paid for, a performance free of distraction (even if it's their own.)
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 10:05 AM on July 10, 2015


And I don't think live performance is ailing all that much in the U.S. I've just read that Broadway had a record year for revenue. And just try getting a seat to Hamilton, or even Fun Home any time soon.

Yes, as pointed out upthread, theater tickets are expensive. Which makes it even worse when someone ruins a performance for people sitting nearby. It's not like you can just easily go another night and see it again.

I'd like to see the theater managements be a lot more aggressive about controlling this. Be clear in the pre-show and pre-act 2 announcements that any use cellphones will not be tolerated, and that ushers will throw people out for using them. Then do it.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 10:06 AM on July 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


Look. If you're in a movie theatre, the movie you're watching goes on exactly the same regardless of whether or not someone is standing at the front of the stage reciting the Treaty of Westphalia. But if you are actually causing distraction to the actors in a play, you are having a negative impact on the product that everyone has paid to see. The venue would be well within its rights to throw you out with no refund, and I think this should be enforced more vigorously, and would applaud – as would a lot of theatre lovers – if more people using their cell phones during performances were asked to leave.
posted by graymouser at 10:11 AM on July 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


the movie you're watching goes on exactly the same regardless of whether or not someone is standing at the front of the stage reciting the Treaty of Westphalia.

Not really, though. Have you ever tried to watch a movie while someone is texting in front of you?
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:13 AM on July 10, 2015 [6 favorites]


what if you're at Ford's Theater and you have to text Abraham Lincoln LOOK OUT BEHIND U

Lincoln was notorious for being a late adopter of new technologies. Right up until the end of his life, he always kept his pants up with a traditional leather belt, despite the fact that almost everyone else had long since switched to suspenders (invented by Albert Thurston in 1820). On the night of the assassination, during an argument with his personal tailor allegedly overheard by a White House valet, he uttered the words "I'll be long dead and in the cold, cold ground before you get me into a pair of Mr. Thurston's confounded trussing straps!" The rest, as they say, is history.
posted by Atom Eyes at 10:14 AM on July 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


A few weeks ago I went to see the stunning performance that Lisa Dwan does of Beckett's Not I, Footfalls and Rockaby. It's an extraordinarily intense evening. At the end of Rockaby, just as her head was about to loll, in the darkness someone's phone began to speak. It seemed to be upset that it couldn't recognise a spoken command, and was complaining about it at length. I suppose the owner thought they were being clever. It did rather spoil it, actually.

I was disappointed, on emerging into the lobby, not to find the phone's owner's exsanguinating corpse on display pour encourager les autres.

And port is very nice. It compares favourably with a number of other alcoholic drinks. The notion that it's in anyway elitist is a figment of the drinker's imagination.
posted by Grangousier at 10:16 AM on July 10, 2015 [7 favorites]


It is, in fact, a crime to use a phone in a theater in New York.

I was ready to call shenanigans on this, but I looked it up and it is true. $50 fine and eviction from the theater. Has it every actually been enforced or is it like the "no smoking in NYC parks" law?
posted by Falconetti at 10:18 AM on July 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


When it comes to people not attending theater performances, I think cost is a lot more relevant than cell phones.

I don't know if cell phones are the biggest problem, but Imma push back on the idea that the cost is the problem. How much do big rock show tickets cost? How much do football tickets cost?
posted by KathrynT at 10:20 AM on July 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


Lucky she wasn't in character as the Cut-Wife or there might have been bodies hanging from the ceiling.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 10:21 AM on July 10, 2015


How much do big rock show tickets cost? How much do football tickets cost?

More than Broadway.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:22 AM on July 10, 2015


(Spoilers for a 25 year old play to follow.)



A friend of mine, who is currently starring in a production of Rent, shared the story on Facebook of how during the scene were Max and Rudy are put on the train to Dachau after being arrested by the Gestapo and Max denies his homosexuality by beating Rudy (his boyfriend) to death, a n audience member's phone started chiming and beeping and chirping, so as the Nazis and Max are beating up this guy, the audience member did not turn it off but instead got out of her seat and walked out of the theater, which took her past the stage, phone ringing the whole time as the performance continued about a foot from her.

There will always be rude assholes. There will always be clueless people. But when somebody makes a Big Fucking Deal about it like LuPone is doing, it shows those that are on the fence about making the dude or clueless decisions that "hey, maybe that's not right" or maybe in the moment, they'll reconsider.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:24 AM on July 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


MCMikeNamara, I'm sure you mean Bent and not Rent. Because that would be pretty weird. :)
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:25 AM on July 10, 2015 [18 favorites]


Yeah I was wondering whether the Rent I saw was the expurgated version.
posted by zachlipton at 10:27 AM on July 10, 2015 [34 favorites]


Preferably, their phone would be returned to them in several pieces, too.

I read 'pieces' as 'places'. I could get behind that.
posted by you must supply a verb at 10:27 AM on July 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


It is my goddamn right as an American to enjoy a foot-long ballpark frank and loaded nachos during Voi che sapete che cosa è amor.

Having attended a free simulcast of Marriage of Figaro at the ballpark last weekend, I can confirm that garlic fries go well with opera.
posted by zachlipton at 10:28 AM on July 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Damn it - that was a typo made because I fucked up the HTML to the Wikipedia page, but now that it's been pointed out, I'm going to just leave it there to shame myself like people should be shamed for their theater rudeness.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:29 AM on July 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


Imma push back on the idea that the cost is the problem. How much do big rock show tickets cost? How much do football tickets cost?

They cost more than most theater performances, for sure. But a lot of shows are in the $30-$70 range (if not higher), and that is a range that I cannot afford more than a few times a year, if that.

I wasn't saying cost is a problem for everyone, but cost is the problem for me, and for most people I personally know who love going to the theater but who cannot afford it more often than a few times a year.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 10:38 AM on July 10, 2015


what if you're at Ford's Theater and you have to text Abraham Lincoln LOOK OUT BEHIND U
*switch sample Tonawanda
*sick seller trains
                                                       Bro?*
*motherfucking autocorrect
*SIX ARMOR TYRANID
*S I C S E M P E R T Y R A N N I S
                           Sics emperty rannis?  You drunk?*
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:40 AM on July 10, 2015 [25 favorites]


Oh, yeah, I agree that the cost can definitely be prohibitive. I sing with the Seattle Symphony and my husband almost never comes to see me because frankly we can't afford for him to. But there are plenty of events that cost a lot more money than classical music or live theater that have no problem selling tickets, so I don't think ticket cost alone is what keeps people in general (as opposed to specific people who cannot afford anything at that price) out of the theater.
posted by KathrynT at 10:43 AM on July 10, 2015


Is that how we're spelling asshole these days?

The word Bro is easier to text than the word Asshole.
posted by Beholder at 10:46 AM on July 10, 2015


I agree with maxsparber in that this seems like a design and usability problem. If you blame the problem on "entitled assholes," your only recourse is... to attempt to shame entitled assholes by yelling more and more loudly at them, forever. If you recognize that the problem has to do with the way that theater attendance works, and what expectations audience members (whom we'll assume are well-meaning) have about their attendance at the theater, then you can starting thinking about how the design of that system could be adapted to encourage the desired behavior.

It seems to be the case that even having (numerous) visible reminders and pre-show announcements about phone use doesn't work consistently. (And, to be fair, there are a lot of behaviors in the world that we're constantly told not to engage in, but that we do anyway—think of "although the captain has turned off the seatbelt sign, please keep your seatbelt on" or any other of the dozens of counterintuitive air travel safety rules that passengers routinely ignore.) Clearly, we can't have Patti LuPone at every performance yanking gizmos out of every offender's hands. And I don't think that calling someone an entitled asshole (regardless of how loudly or firmly you do it) has ever resulted in a sustainable change in anyone's behavior—usually that kind of shaming just forces people to dig themselves deeper in, in order to save face. So given all that, what changes can be made to the way that being an audience member works so that fewer people pull out their phones during performances?
posted by aparrish at 10:46 AM on July 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


Does this happen in other countries? Or is it another example of American exceptionalism (to be an asshat).
posted by gottabefunky at 10:48 AM on July 10, 2015


Don't know how it is in the US, but here in Europe a lot of football fans complain about being priced out of top level football by the prawn cocktail brigade. God help you if you're an Arsenal fan.

Theatre for the most part is more of a niche hobby/entertainment than big sports is, so I can imagine that it's harder to find replacement fans if you price your old audience out of it...
posted by MartinWisse at 10:49 AM on July 10, 2015


So given all that, what changes can be made to the way that being an audience member works so that fewer people pull out their phones during performances?

Confiscate them at the door.
posted by grumpybear69 at 10:50 AM on July 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


we can't have Patti LuPone at every performance yanking gizmos out of every offender's hands.

I will gladly PAY MORE for this service.
posted by Fizz at 10:51 AM on July 10, 2015 [16 favorites]


Live theater, I can see a blanket ban on phones and gadgetry simply because there are live actors and actresses up there. Acting folk are notoriously capricious and flighty and if the star sees someone looking at their lap instead of right at him and REFUSES to continue in the face of such disrespect and folderol, well, that's the end of the show and thus the texter must be protected from being bludgeoned to death by people who spent three figures to watch the play of the day. If the rule is clearly stated at such a private affair, there's not much wiggle room around it; comply or be booted.

At movie theaters, on the other hand, I'm not sure I've paid my twelve bucks in years for a film that was so captivating that a little Angry Birds wasn't tempting halfway through. I would have assumed that the ban there on phones was more from the concern that someone might record 3.4 seconds of the film and thus violate federal law and cause the studio $3.9471E+12 in punitive damages.
posted by delfin at 10:51 AM on July 10, 2015


The stakes need to be higher. If your phone is on, and can be seen or heard, you will be ejected from the theatre without a refund. Even if it was a mistake.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:51 AM on July 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


Pretty sure that anyone with the possibility of a heart surgery level potential emergency situation can give their name and seat number to the house manager and a theater contact number to their head nurse and be contacted quickly with minimum disruption.

Something like that. Back in the 90s I used to work FOH in a big arts centre and on orchestra nights i would sometimes have to look after the beeper for the on call brain surgeon for Coventry & Warwickshire. If it went off my priority job was to hoick him out of there pretty sharpish.
posted by biffa at 10:53 AM on July 10, 2015 [6 favorites]


Yeah, I want to win a year of "I point at people and Patti Lupone arrives in full costume via blimp/elephant and confiscates their cell phone."
posted by Rat Spatula at 10:54 AM on July 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


The stakes need to be higher.

Briefly, I thought you were advocating turning management of theater politeness over to Vlad Tepes.
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:55 AM on July 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


At movie theaters, on the other hand, I'm not sure I've paid my twelve bucks in years for a film that was so captivating that a little Angry Birds wasn't tempting halfway through. I would have assumed that the ban there on phones was more from the concern that someone might record 3.4 seconds of the film and thus violate federal law and cause the studio $3.9471E+12 in punitive damages.

Then sit in the very back row, because other people in the theater might be really enjoying a movie right up until someone a few rows ahead of them decides to start lighting up the room (and his or her face) with their phone.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 10:55 AM on July 10, 2015 [15 favorites]


Hitler never, not even once, looked at a cellphone during an opera. Are you actually asking that we should be more like Hitler?!?!
posted by blue_beetle at 10:58 AM on July 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


Our amazing local symphony is struggling with its aging patron base, and a few years ago did a special section of seats, a tier that is tucked away both above and below larger tiers in the theater, called "Tweet Seats" for a few select Pops performances. The tickets were $25 and they had a special hashtag for each performance, and really extended an open hand to the local universities and social media. It just happens that that is my favorite section to sit in at that theater and I took advantage of the affordable seating. It was an interesting experiment, the downside being that their wifi couldn't really handle the demand. The ushers are pretty hard core about stopping people from glowing screens in the other tiers, and I wonder if this was a "if you can't beat them, join them" concept.
posted by librarianamy at 10:59 AM on July 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


Then sit in the very back row, because other people in the theater might be really enjoying a movie right up until someone a few rows ahead of them decides to start lighting up the room (and his or her face) with their phone.

Or better yet, wait for the DVD and stay home and watch it there, where you can play Angry Birds, eat cottage cheese with your hands, and be naked if you feel like it.

I mean, seriously - if you already know you aren't going to be that into the movie, why go to the theater at all?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:59 AM on July 10, 2015 [13 favorites]


Then sit in the very back row,

And only if there's no one sitting within, say, 5 seats of you. Having a light flickering away at the corner of your vision is just really irritating. If you're bored with the film and want to play Angry Birds, go sit in the lobby where you're not ruining the experience for anyone else. "I don't like this movie, therefore no one else possibly could" is the very height of solipsism.
posted by yoink at 11:00 AM on July 10, 2015 [16 favorites]


I will say that if I heard an announcement that people were to turn off their phones, I would assume that the issue was the noise. It would never occur to me that anybody cared about the light from the screens.

I actually think this is a good point. It never occurred to me, but now that it's been pointed out I could totally see people thinking this. They're called 'phones' still, and the world is a big place full of people of different backgrounds and ages and experience, and I can totally see someone hearing 'turn your phone off' equating it with 'please don't make or take phone calls during the performance', and maybe even thinking that they were being considerate by using their phone silently. In the same way that we tend to lose local-focus when talking on the phone and aren't aware that we're talking really loudly or walking really slowly etc., the screen feels private and small and sort of just for the user.

And I have actually met people who don't get that their phone screen emits enough light to bother other people in a darkened theatre, and I've seen people in a museum getting attention from security for their camera flash going off sort of brushing it off with 'I have it set to no flash, nothing else I can do' and continuing to take photos - they did their best to comply with the rule, they're a bit embarassed by their camera misbehaving, but there was a total disconnect about why 'no flash' was a rule, so they kept snapping away.

I think maybe it would be worth telling people why the 'turn your phone off' rule is as-stated, because people do tend not to do more than they have to do, and not to comply if they don't think their action will cause a problem, etc. And possibly in a few cases, being told 'light from screens is visible to all patrons plus actors and it bothers everyone who isn't you; noise from an alarm or alert or someone texting or calling you will be a disruption to other patrons and actors' etc.

Not saying that this is the reason every single person has ever used a phone in a theatre, or that it explains the person who texted during an entire fucking show, or that it will cure the common asshole, but I totally believe that someone might not have considered the effect of screen light on others when told 'turn off your phones'.
posted by you must supply a verb at 11:00 AM on July 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm not a surgeon, heart or otherwise, but they pretty much can't do anything in the OR without me, so I can assure you that there is no excuse there. If there is something I want/am obligated to do I can usually work my call around it so that someone else is on that night. If that doesn't work I can usually find someone to cover call for the two hours or whatever the event will take. In the rare event that I can't even do that, I put my phone and beeper on vibrate and if they go off, discretely go outside or to the lobby or someplace where I can talk. Not only is it annoying others to carry on a conversation in a crowded theater, but it could be construed as a HIPPA violation as well just if you are discussing a patient. This approach has served me well in movies, plays, and church services/funerals. And I didn't need an announcement to encourage me. So on behalf of non asshole physicians everywhere, please don't use us to explain this behavior. I can't speak on behalf of assholes (at least I hope not), but they are just being assholes, which is no excuse.
posted by TedW at 11:01 AM on July 10, 2015 [29 favorites]


Technology got us into this problem, and technology can solve this problem. We just need overhead cameras connected to a system that can recognize the glow of a touchscreen, and lasers that can project the word "ASSHOLE" on the forehead of the person holding the phone.

And then some bigger lasers to vaporize them if they don't put the phone away.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:28 AM on July 10, 2015 [11 favorites]


Or better yet, wait for the DVD and stay home and watch it there, where you can play Angry Birds, eat cottage cheese with your hands, and be naked if you feel like it.

They say "no phones." They say NOTHING about clothes being required. I mean, if it's a G-rated movie I might put on a thong or something for little kids' sake but how many of those are there these days?

I mean, seriously - if you already know you aren't going to be that into the movie, why go to the theater at all?

Which is why I generally do not, outside of an occasional trip to the in-laws where they say "let's all go to the movies" and I tag along for politeness's sake. Doubly so for live theater; while I am likely missing some stellar performances, when presented with sub-par or mediocre theatrics I doubt my ability to suppress my natural instinct to heckle or MST3K along, and thus I grant my seat to others of stronger will.
posted by delfin at 11:43 AM on July 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


So given all that, what changes can be made to the way that being an audience member works so that fewer people pull out their phones during performances?

OK, since you asked, my ideal pre-show announcement would be:
Thank you for coming to our show. Please turn off your cellphones now. <waits a minute> If you think you will need to use your phone, or any device that lights up, during the performance, please stand up now. <wait> People who are standing, you can either go into the lobby and watch the show on a monitor there, and use your phone whenever you want, or go to the box office and get a refund on your seat. <wait while people leave>. If you are still in your seat, please be aware that if your phone goes on during the performance, our ushers will remove you from the theater, and you will not get a refund. Thank you and enjoy the show.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 11:47 AM on July 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


without breaking character, Ms. LuPone walked into the audience and took an audience member's cell phone who had been texting during the play

Patti LuPwned.
posted by mattdidthat at 11:48 AM on July 10, 2015 [26 favorites]


Oh man I went to see Keith Jarrett in Atlanta, and right at the start of one of his more quiet, sparse pieces the cell phone of the guy RIGHT BEHIND ME rang. And it was a stupid ringtone too; like, the macarena or something. And Keith abruptly stopped playing, put his hands in his lap, and spun on the piano bench to face in the direction of the guy. Then he just sat there quietly for a long, long, LONG time, staring. I was so incredibly mortified. Everyone in the whole theater was looking at me, it seemed like, but I was innocent. It was awful.
posted by staggering termagant at 11:54 AM on July 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


OK, since you asked, my ideal pre-show announcement would be:

Frankly, one of my theater pet peeves is lengthy pre-show announcements and curtain speeches (yes, we know you're broke, but begging for donations from people who just spent decent money on tickets before you've provided a single moment of entertainment is nasty), so I would not enjoy your ideal announcement.
posted by zachlipton at 11:54 AM on July 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm still reading all your comments, but I just want to say that I saw La LuPone in her one-woman show of standards and Broadway (Patti LuPone Live!, which would evolve into the Patti LuPone on Broadway show) in 1992 just before she went to London to do Sunset Blvd. She was incomparable then and I cannot imagine being uninterested in her. Or rude enough to text throughout a performance.
posted by ApathyGirl at 11:55 AM on July 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


I would pay a lot of money to go back in time and have been there when she took the phone. Would have loooooved to see it. I've told this story before, but during her show with Mandy Patinkin, a cell phone went off during the last few bars of "Don't Cry for Me, Argentina", and I nearly had a heart attack at the possibility of what she was going to do to that asshole who left their phone on. Alas, she remained in character and continued on with the performance.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:02 PM on July 10, 2015


Second time I've linked back to this story. Patti Lupone, please help me make this an annual (monthly? weekly?) event.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:07 PM on July 10, 2015


We talked about it at intermission.
An usher or stagehand could be sent to talk to her at that time or as soon as she returned to her seat. I had the same thought in a related thread. That is the usual policy to avoid the actors needing to get involved.
Jinx TPS
posted by soelo at 12:08 PM on July 10, 2015


I've told this story before, but during her show with Mandy Patinkin, a cell phone went off during the last few bars of "Don't Cry for Me, Argentina", and I nearly had a heart attack at the possibility of what she was going to do to that asshole who left their phone on. Alas, she remained in character and continued on with the performance.

Saw that show! Loved that show! Oddly enough, when she started "Don't Cry For Me, Argentina" at the performance I saw, loud firetrucks raced down the street outside. It didn't matter. She had the room and we were hers and we all knew it.
posted by Spatch at 12:10 PM on July 10, 2015


For fuck's sake, it always amazes me in threads like these that there are always a few people who want to stick up for the worthless assholes who ruin everyone else's theater/movie/concert experience.

A bright screen distracting people isn't obvious? You know what's obvious? Not doing anything at a play or concert or movie but watching said play or concert or movie. If you're at such an event and you're thinking, "Should I be doing something else while watching this?", the answer is no.

If you can't comply with this simple instruction, don't go out to these events.
posted by Sangermaine at 12:13 PM on July 10, 2015 [35 favorites]


Does this happen in other countries? Or is it another example of American exceptionalism (to be an asshat).

At the theatre pieces I've been to in Germany and Austria, not only are there announcements beforehand about cell phone use, but the ushers are also pretty pro-active about speaking with people who have their phones out or around after they've been warned, as well as people who are taking a lot of photos.

For movies, I've usually heard no announcement and seen no cell phones, but that's because most of the movie theatres I frequent have been underground bunkers with no cell reception. (No joke.)

Pop concerts? Phones everywhere.
posted by frimble at 12:19 PM on July 10, 2015


But, Christ, people behave like, oh my god, it's impossible that everybody on earth doesn't intuitively understand this. They don't. For some a trip to the theater is as rare as a trip to buy port. I think you'll find a lot of the people are capable of learning.

idk, I grew up preeettyyyy poor out in the boonies, and 1) I understand not to be a dick, it's so obviously being a dick I don't even, and 2) when I DO get to go to the theater it's a pretty rare treat, I get gussied up, I look forward to it, I paid a lot of money for it, and if I get there and some total idiot is texting or chatting or snoring or whatever the fuck else because they don't even want to be there, I get pretty fucking mad.
posted by easter queen at 12:23 PM on July 10, 2015 [16 favorites]


In a recent performance of a play--I think in England--a cell rang during a play. The owner, embarrassed, did not immediately answer. Annoyed, actor Kevin Spacey shouted out: Either answer it or I will.
posted by Postroad at 12:25 PM on July 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


Also, the very "liveness" of theater is what makes dumbasses in the audience SO ANNOYING. It's engaging, you're right there! You want to be engaged, it should be electric, magnetic... and instead you are distracted by someone's stupid phone light floating around in your field of vision, or their singing, or their "whispered" conversation.

We went to the ~big city~ to see a play in high school and two girls from my class would noooottt shut up behind us, and my boyfriend totally ripped them a new one. That was pretty awesome. I have yet to have the balls to do that myself, yet... mostly because I don't want to get in a fight with randos and make the situation worse.
posted by easter queen at 12:28 PM on July 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Eh, I don't really think you can take phones from people. I mean, obviously you can, someone did, but as a policy that's crazy. Prohibit phones or phone use, and kick out people who violate the rules. You can't be seizing people's property even if they're being dicks.

I can't take my employees' cell phones. I don't think even cops can do that, absent a safety concern or a warrant/arrest.
posted by ctmf at 12:28 PM on July 10, 2015


I love the idea of theatre ninjas like they have here.
posted by tatiana131 at 12:30 PM on July 10, 2015


It's not cluelessness. I've experimented with all sorts of different tones of voice and interpersonal approaches (apologetic, empathetic, stern, helpful, bright and friendly) when asking other audience members to stop talking or texting at the theatre or cinema and have found literally no technique that provides a simple, polite cessation of the antisocial activity. People do occasionally (if rarely) shut the fuck up, but if they do it's always accompanied by an eye roll, scowl, or outright insult. Never, no matter how politely my approach, do these people apologise or behave as if they give any fucks at all. These people are not making mistakes.
posted by EXISTENZ IS PAUSED at 12:30 PM on July 10, 2015 [30 favorites]


Maybe there's an unfilled need here. What if the coat check person would hold your phone and give you a little device with a single small LED on it. If your phone rings, they make your LED light up so you can come out to the lobby and check on it. Parents and heart surgeons saved.
posted by ctmf at 12:31 PM on July 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


I went to a show at the Flea Theater in NYC where they announced at the beginning: if your phone rings during the show, you have to answer it on speakerphone so we can all be part of your conversation.
posted by moonmilk at 12:32 PM on July 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


People do occasionally (if rarely) shut the fuck up, but if they do it's always accompanied by an eye roll, scowl, or outright insult. Never, no matter how politely my approach, do these people apologise or behave as if they give any fucks at all. These people are not making mistakes.

Yup. It's one of those HOW DARE YOU?!?!!! type situations. And if they're the bullying type, look forward to being bullied throughout the rest of the performance!
posted by easter queen at 12:36 PM on July 10, 2015 [7 favorites]


Do people teach manners anymore? I feel like an old man (and I'm only in my 40s) but... when I was a kid my parents taught us about how going to the theater was A Thing, A Very Big Thing. You dressed up. You sat up in your seat and didn't fidget. If we had cell phones back then and I'd tried to text or game on one during a play you can bet that thing would've been snatched out of my little fingers, shoved into Mom's purse and I'd be lucky if I saw it again for weeks. And I'm only about one generation removed from some pretty dirt poor ancestors so it's not like I come from some long line of well-cultured people.

You are there to give your attention to the performance. And you're respectful enough that those sitting around you are doing the same. This is not a new or strange concept. I do not agree that there is any way to not know this and abide by it other than by being a rude, selfish asshole.

There can be distracting mistakes that are real - a month or so ago I went to see The Little Foxes at the Goodman and during the big final showdown scene some senior citizen's hearing aid starting going off, and I mean LOUDLY. There was murmuring as if someone was trying to point it out to the oblivious senior, but it took a horribly long time to get it fixed and yeah, I was peeved. I don't know from hearing aid maintenance so I don't know why they make that noise but I know it used to happen with my grandfather at random times so I don't think it's exactly anyone's fault.
posted by dnash at 12:37 PM on July 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


Metafilter: This isn't some sort of monacle-dropping "Oh, I say, the port always circulates clockwise" thing.

....or is it?
posted by NikitaNikita at 12:40 PM on July 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


Oh hey. Can I rant about latecomers too? Please?

At the opera, when it's time to start, the doors are shut and I mean shut. If you are late, you're camping out in the lobby til intermission. Can theaters and movies start doing this too please??

(Seriously how is anyone late to a movie, where there are 15-20 minutes of previews and crap. If you somehow still manage to not show up until after the actual movie has begun, then you get to go sit the fuck down in the front row. Do not fucking expect me to get out of your way so you can find some nice seat up amongst all us normal people who got here on time.)
posted by dnash at 12:43 PM on July 10, 2015 [7 favorites]


All right, fine. Next time I go to a Broadway show, I'll leave my phone at home.

But fair is fair. Just in case the show isn't good, there'd better be a box of fruit and vegetables under each seat. If I don't get to passive-aggressively demonstrate disdain, I get the direct method.


/hamburger
posted by delfin at 12:44 PM on July 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


I feel like an old man (and I'm only in my 40s) but... when I was a kid my parents taught us about how going to the theater was A Thing, A Very Big Thing.

Some of the worst offenders of audience rudeness are much older than that. It's not a generational thing.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:10 PM on July 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


Yeah, I want to win a year of "I point at people and Patti Lupone arrives in full costume via blimp/elephant and confiscates their cell phone."

Deus ex Patti!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:15 PM on July 10, 2015


I too applauded Ms. Patti on twitter last night, but it was the interview with the douchebag phone-charger that really irked. His battery was still half full during their pre-show meal, and being a millennial he evidently doesn’t know that the other option is to just TURN THE F***ING PHONE OFF for awhile? You know, actually talk to the family at the restaurant without taking endless selfies. Watch the show without ‘gramming it.

Maybe it’s because the past few years I’ve dealt with the same self-involvement among (younger) coworkers who can’t shut up/ get off social media/ stop texting at their desks, at meetings. Though yes, I know, rudeness exists amongst privileged/ entitled people of various ages. Cells/tablets have just enabled another level/ form of it.
posted by NorthernLite at 1:22 PM on July 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Here's a list from Time of various interruptions, often from mobiles, and actor responses.
posted by biffa at 1:23 PM on July 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


From the Time list: Last night I was at the Cort Theater seeing the play Grace. In the middle of the show there was quite the ruckus. After hearing a loud gasp several people got up and left the theater, followed by several more. During all of this the actors carried on as best they could. At the end of the show, the cast came out for curtain calls, and just before making their call for $$ for Actors Equity fights Aids fund, Paul Rudd told us that someone in the balcony had vomited onto those in the orchestra.
posted by Existential Dread at 1:45 PM on July 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Hell, forget the texting, when are people going to stop going to events just to hold up their cell phone to try to record the whole thing instead of, you know, actually watching it?
posted by azpenguin at 1:48 PM on July 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Relatedly, can I have a moment to grouse about how all of a sudden people appear to be laboring under the impression that it is socially acceptable to eat chips smackily out of a foil bag over a period of an hour in the carrels IN A GOD DAMN LIBRARY??? OK, thanks, I feel better.
posted by en forme de poire at 1:57 PM on July 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


"I am so defeated by this issue that I seriously question whether I want to work on stage anymore. Now I’m putting battle gear on over my costume to marshal the audience as well as perform."
I have finally found the hill I'm ready to die on.
posted by Zeinab Badawi's Twenty Hotels at 2:22 PM on July 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


I love that this thread is here right now. I act--not professionally, just for the love of it, but quite a bit and pretty seriously. I've never actually taken a phone, but I have been sorely tempted a few times. I just got done playing the Fool in King Lear in some Shakespeare-in-the-park last month, and we had a couple of matinees with a slew of bored schoolkids texting on their phones in the front rows. (For those of you not familiar with the play, the Fool is one of the few characters in it who can get away with interacting directly with the audience, and has a small monologue in Act Three where he actually addresses them.)

Let me tell you, people put their phones away pretty goddamned quickly when you come down off the stage and get in their faces ranting about when "bawds and whores do churches build". It's eminently satisfying.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 2:23 PM on July 10, 2015 [24 favorites]


My "win the lottery" dream has always been opening a chain of movie theaters called Benevolent Dictator Cinema. Shut the fuck up and turn off your fucking phones. Other people paid to see and hear the movie, not to see and hear you. This is not rocket science.
posted by tzikeh at 2:36 PM on July 10, 2015 [6 favorites]


Oh hey. Can I rant about latecomers too? Please?

Last summer, I worked on a show where we staged a specific place to bring latecomers in. The cast gathered around and sang a song about how they were latecomers and now they weren't going to understand anything that happened, sorry! Then the play resumed. Big applause every time.

Briefly, it should be the house's responsibility to manage situations like this (hence the "house manager" position). This sort of behavior annoys the vast majority of theatre go-ers and, economically, creating a situation where you're alienating your base of supporters is a poor managerial decision. The House Manager should immediately approach the person and either remove them from the space (if they have been informed via announcement that they'll be removed from the theater) or tell them if they see the phone out again they will be removed from the space (and then remove them immediately).

Stories about the drastic need to have a phone during the show should be met with a sympathetic "I understand - let's take it out to the lobby so we can get you your money back and you can go deal with that drastic need."

But if there is failure on the part of the house staff to act, somebody needs to protect the integrity of the experience. Partially to maintain the focus of the cast but primarily to protect the experience that all those other audience members paid good money to see. This is ultimately about the audience's experience of the show. You shouldn't ruin the experience for 599 people just to appease 1. In this case, the needs of the many do indeed outweigh the needs of the one.
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:46 PM on July 10, 2015 [12 favorites]


I don’t know why they buy the ticket or come to the theater if they can’t let go of the phone. It’s controlling them. They can’t turn it off and can’t stop looking at it.

This is true.
posted by latkes at 2:48 PM on July 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


Also, sometimes the annoying audience member texting during "Hamilton" is Madonna.
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:59 PM on July 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


what if you're at Ford's Theater and you have to text Abraham Lincoln LOOK OUT BEHIND U

The one time you are allowed to yell "FIRE" in a crowded theatre -- nay, encouraged to, and if you work there, are required to, is if the theatre is actually on fire. If you see someone about to shoot the president, you may yell "GUN!" even during the showstopper!

This is a well established theatrical rule, and if you hadn't had your nose in your phone, you would have noticed John Wilkes Booth and Lincoln might have lived.

That's right. Your cellphone habit killed Abraham Lincoln.

So turn the goddamn thing off before another president dies!

Please. Won't somebody think of the President?
posted by eriko at 3:24 PM on July 10, 2015 [8 favorites]


But if there is failure on the part of the house staff to act, somebody needs to protect the integrity of the experience. Partially to maintain the focus of the cast but primarily to protect the experience that all those other audience members paid good money to see. This is ultimately about the audience's experience of the show. You shouldn't ruin the experience for 599 people just to appease 1. In this case, the needs of the many do indeed outweigh the needs of the one.

I regret that I have one favourite to give here.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 3:25 PM on July 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


And well, if we don't think social opprobrium can maybe change a mind...

Hand to God Phone Charger Issues Apology.

posted by mandolin conspiracy at 3:43 PM on July 10, 2015 [7 favorites]


this is nothing about the theater, but a couple semesters ago i had a girl who sat in the back row (thereby only distracting me, instructor) take selfies or look at her hair in her cell phone (i suspect it was selfie because it was that hand above your head selfie angle thing) i swear, five outta seven classes.

I have reached a juncture in my community college career where i have realized the wise words related to choosing one's battles carefully. And I really did think saying things along those lines like:

"xx, are you taking selfies again?"

"xx how would you feel if I took your cell phone" (not planning to but sort of mildly curious as to what she would say, which is, 'I would cry.')

--would have encouraged her to stop with the fucking selfies because i was a teacher's pet and curled up like a dead shrimp upon a word of scorn. But, no.

Now, I am probably a shitty teacher because I wasn't like *YOU DARE DO THIS FOR LOVE OF GOD WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU* but it was more like weighing the fact that I was only one she was distracting (aside from the fact I would then comment on it, which was its own distraction) and thinking the various other shit I needed to do that day and was like -- I don't want to lift this stone. If this girl, is walking around in the world, going to school with other students, how am I going to convince her that she is acting like a crazy person or community college Kim Kardashian.

You know, rehashing this? I really regret I didn't say anything and then just deal with whatever fucking unreal attitude leads to a kid taking selfies during class.

At least then I could relate this anecdote not as the etiquette lapse that I failed to act on, conforming with the march of stupidity, but as some brave TO THE GATES MOMENT and LUPONE I AM ON YOUR SIDE

I swear to fucking God though, if I see a selfie stick that will be the point at which I officially lose it and then y'all can be MEFI'S OWN ANGRYCAT REALLY WENT FUCKING BESERK
posted by angrycat at 3:48 PM on July 10, 2015 [6 favorites]


Personally, if the audience member can't keep quiet, then I'm perfectly happy with taking it to the next level.
posted by happyroach at 4:30 PM on July 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


Does this happen in other countries? Or is it another example of American exceptionalism (to be an asshat).
posted by gottabefunky

A couple of years ago, I took my son to see the Dr Who Symphonic Spectacular at the Sydney Opera House. This was a very big deal for him - a trip to the city with mum to see a show he'd only ever dreamed of seeing. The two teenagers sitting in front of us pulled out their cellphones and started recording the whole thing, so we had not one but two lit screens wavering around in front of us as they swapped from filming the stage to the big screen display, and then to the weeping angels and Daleks wandering around in the aisles.

The son, aged maybe 15, then realised that his battery was running low so he thought he could use his mother's iPad to record the rest of the show. He turned it on and held it above his head to record. Slap-bang in front of my Dr-obsessed starstruck 11 year old.

I leaned forward and hissed in his ear that he should show some consideration for those sitting behind him and PUT THE FUCKING IPAD DOWN. He did, and spent the rest of the show slunk down in his seat, obviously terrified to move in case the psycho bitch behind him went really ballistic.

And I still feel really good about it,
posted by malibustacey9999 at 7:19 PM on July 10, 2015 [36 favorites]


Wait, in the cell-phone guy's apology, he said he "didn't realize the stage was off-limits".

Really.

At a fucking Broadway production, you thought everyone just got to traipse around the stage.

See, if it were me, I wouldn't just have that you get kicked out without a refund. I'd set it up that buying a ticket entered you into a contract where if you were caught using a phone, you'd be ejected without a refund, but that your phone would be confiscated and destroyed.
posted by Rev. Syung Myung Me at 7:31 PM on July 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


Nonsense. More Broadway productions should encourage audience participation, perhaps a full Rocky Horror-esque second cast.
posted by delfin at 7:34 PM on July 10, 2015


At least a half-dozen times I've seen musicians (almost always people performing fairly quiet acoustic music) halt their show in order to publicly discuss an audience member having a phone conversation during their set.

More than once this has involved the performer insisting that they be allowed to participate in the conversation. Whereupon the offending audience member sheepishly hands the phone up to the musician, who proceeds to cheerfully explain to the person on the other end that this stranger they're suddenly talking to is actually, no really, onstage right at this moment trying to entertain some people, no seriously, it's true, here, listen to the crowd (*holds out phone, audience goes, "YAAAAAAYYYY!!!"*), only they're having a bit of a hard time doing so because the owner of the phone seems to think their phone conversation with you is more important than everyone else being able to listen to the music, but we'll be done in like half an hour and your friend can talk to you on the phone all they want after that, OK? You have a good night, now. Next time we're in town you should come to the show, too.
posted by soundguy99 at 9:58 PM on July 10, 2015 [18 favorites]


But I will say that if I heard an announcement that people were to turn off their phones, I would assume that the issue was the noise. It would never occur to me that anybody cared about the light from the screens.

It's not just the noise. It's the noise, the light, the interference with wireless mic's in a small space, the contract violations regarding video and still photography, and the distraction of an audience member totally ignoring the performance (As an actor, my performance is fueled by the response of the audience.)

None of which the average audience member is going to care about, so we simply say "Please turn off your phones" and hope that the majority of the audience complies.
posted by rakaidan at 10:23 PM on July 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


Some fuckface was texting during the finale of a Sleep No More performance I went to (he also had his mask propped up on his forehead), and at one point his phone made some kind of chime or jingle and instantly 100 creepy bird-skull masks snapped to stare at him and he got so flustered he dropped the phone and it shattered on the stage floor. It was beautiful.
posted by nicolas léonard sadi carnot at 10:24 PM on July 10, 2015 [14 favorites]


This just feeds my long-felt desire for a Patti Lupone/Chuck Norris Broadway Review.
posted by Chitownfats at 10:49 PM on July 10, 2015


We're in a boat, a lot of us in a boat. A pleasure cruise. Most of us have been looking forward to this, for some it's a very rare thing, or maybe even a once in a lifetime thing. We all want to enjoy this.

Before the boat leaves the dock, there is an announcement: Do not bore any holes in the hull of this boat. None of us want to get our feet wet, and if enough people bore holes in the hull, this whole cruise could end up being a slog.

But people bore holes in the hull. They're obsessed with it. They're total pieces of shit. The rest of the people on the boat, being polite, don't say anything, but everyone is looking around nervously, their shoes are wet, their cruise isn't what it could be, should be.

Throw the obsessed assholes over the side. It'll be oh just too sad if they drown and stuff, but the fact is that the fate of three people is *way* less important than the other 348 people who aren't boring holes in the hull.

Which is to say: Fuck them. Fuck their arrogance. Fuck their low-rent habits.

"Sorry pal, you're an asshole, and you're going over the side. Fuck you very much."

I sortof hope they'll have a nice swim, though I mostly wouldn't give a damn.
posted by dancestoblue at 11:53 PM on July 10, 2015 [8 favorites]


I just got off stage after doing the first of two shows of the Final Fantasy: Distant Worlds concert with the Seattle Symphony. It's two hours of video game music from the Final Fantasy series. The house is as dark as a politician's soul because they're projecting scenes from the games on a big screen hung above the orchestra. You know what? Not one single person looked at their phone during that entire show. I saw the flashes of about a dozen people's watches as the faces lit up to announce the hour, but not one cell phone screen.

Someone did, however, take about nine flash photographs during the Draco / Maria opera. FOR SHAME, SIR OR MADAM.
posted by KathrynT at 12:39 AM on July 11, 2015 [6 favorites]


A performance group I work with has taken to making a formal announcement before the show in as many languages as it can get hold of. Due to the nature of the group, this can be a lot. I suspect that it's less to do with thinking people will take any notice as to make it as difficult to ignore as possible, to help security later on. A few years ago, after such an announcement, a woman pulled out an iPad and watched the show via its screen until security told her to stop. Before that, it was a gentleman who turned up with full recording gear - including two microphones on poles - who was very annoyed to be asked to leave the room, despite being asked not to record the show in Japanese, his first language, before the show began. And, yes, there are people working on the production whose job it is to take photographs and record, and that's fine because it's their job. The audiences job is to pay attention to the performance - a performance is anything that happens at a point in space that a number of people are paying attention to at the same time.
posted by Grangousier at 2:39 AM on July 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


A little over a decade ago I went to a small arts venue/gallery space/cafe which occasionally does film screenings. I had never been there before and was going on a stormy Thursday night to see The Control Room, the documentary about Al Jazeera's relationship with CENTCOM during the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Due to weather-related delays I arrived about five minutes after showtime and was prepared to slink in quietly and sit in an inconspicuous spot. I entered what thought was the auditorium but there was no movie: just a screen behind a shallow stage and a few dozen empty seats. I came back out to the front and asked someone if she could direct me to where the screening was happening, and she perkily said, "Oh! No one had turned up, so we figured it wasn't happening. Head on in and take a seat and we will start it up."

I went back in and sat down, and instinctively began to turn my phone off, but then thought, "Why bother? If someone calls, I will answer." So yes, there are situations where it is okay to use your phone in a movie theatre. But they are few.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 5:23 AM on July 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


So have the incompetent idiots who manage the Lincoln Center's Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater apologized publicly yet? If not, why not?

Because, you know, the opprobrium we may feel like pouring on the asshole texting lady? That should be heaped 100 times over on the house manager that night.

maxsparber has made some bizarre claims in this thread, but his point that this was a colossal failure of house management is dead on point.

Seriously: how does this woman continue texting through the entire first act? And how does no one talk to her *before* the 2nd act begins? That's just hideously awful theater management, and a huge insult to the paying audience. If customers can't expect a persistent texter to be quickly removed, what's the point of a house manager at all?
posted by mediareport at 5:40 AM on July 11, 2015 [10 favorites]


You want my conspiracy theory here? The woman or her seatmate was (or was connected to) a wealthy donor to the Lincoln Center. Theater mamagement, having completely abdicated its most basic responsibility to its audience for fear of angering a wealthy donor, was happy to do nothing and pass the baton to Patti Lupone, who should never have been put in that position in the first place.
posted by mediareport at 5:47 AM on July 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


... The house is as dark as a politician's soul ...
posted by KathrynT at 2:39 AM on July 11

Best expression I've heard in long while, cracked my ass up and a big smile that's still hanging in with me -- I needed that. Thank you, KathrynT!
posted by dancestoblue at 7:39 AM on July 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


You know, I've always been sort of admiring of Madonna, not a fan of her music, but girl keeps doing her thing, that's cool, she's cool. No more.
posted by angrycat at 7:52 AM on July 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


Also, you know Hannibal's little whatitsname, the little rotaty thing he keeps the contact info of people he plans to eat? How many of those people were using their fucking cell phone in the theater. I hope a great deal.
posted by angrycat at 7:54 AM on July 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


See, if it were me, I wouldn't just have that you get kicked out without a refund. I'd set it up that buying a ticket entered you into a contract where if you were caught using a phone, you'd be ejected without a refund, but that your phone would be confiscated and destroyed.

And banned from the theater for life.

If you are unable to take time out to be disconnected from the outside world for a couple of hours, you shouldn't go to the theater. There are no excuses or circumstances that make it okay. If you're so important or your life is so hectic that turning off your phone for a couple of hours would be disastrous, you should just glue your phone to your head and stay the hell away from anything involving participation in events that require silence.
posted by winna at 9:59 AM on July 11, 2015 [9 favorites]


Hand to God Phone Charger Issues Apology.

I will give our charmingly now-penitant asshole credit. That is a real, no bullshit, actual even confessed to a crime while he was at it apology. No ifs, and or buts there. Well done.

That might even have been an actual learning experience for him. Well done part II.

He's *still* on the list, but he's on the list of "might be welcomed back as a real human being if he learns from this" people, as opposed to where he was before, which was "Feed first to sharks." We all do dumb things when we're young. Maybe not quite this spectacularly dumb in public, but we all do them. If he learns and grows and stops with the charming asshole part, then, well, forgiveness will be his. And I'm pretty certain he's learned to stay off the stage -- or at least to take up acting first.
posted by eriko at 11:03 AM on July 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


I'm with aparrish. What changes can we make to reduce the number of people who pull out and use glowy/noisy mobile devices during performances? (I've seen more "please silence your phones" than "please turn off your phones" directives, although that's changing.)

The art house theater I go to most often seems (based on how my reception always goes to 0 when I'm in there) to have a Faraday cage surrounding the theater.
posted by brainwane at 8:05 PM on July 11, 2015


I've noticed poor reception in my local theater. And my doctor's office waiting room, which is in an urban area and has windows facing the street. If jammers are illegal, how are they doing that?
posted by desjardins at 8:41 PM on July 11, 2015


That apology is actually very sweet. Good for him.
posted by easter queen at 10:50 PM on July 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


If jammers are illegal, how are they doing that?

It's a combination of the building's construction, your carrier, and your phone.

I've been recently working at the offices of a big insurance company near Jessamyn. I have an iPhone 6+ on T-Mobile. I lose all signal the moment I walk through the door. Verizon iPhones get weak signals within the building. The $20 Net10 burner I bought [which is probably using T-Mobile towers] gets full bars within the building. Same at Big Fashion House in NJ, and Big Retailer near Chicago, and my kids' high school, and so on. Lots of buildings are Faraday cages of varying efficiency.
posted by chazlarson at 11:02 PM on July 11, 2015


Welp, at TONIGHT'S Distant Worlds show, there were at least 4 people recording the show that I could see in the audience. Protip: while it is definitely less disturbing to your fellow audience members to point the screen of your phone at the stage, WE CAN SEE YOU. Turn your brightness down for God's sake.
posted by KathrynT at 12:26 AM on July 12, 2015


I've been recently working at the offices of a big insurance company near Jessamyn.

OoooOOOOooooh. Somebody's getting braggy.
posted by Going To Maine at 5:13 AM on July 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


I've been recently working at the offices of a big insurance company near Jessamyn.

I hereby declare that *all* insurance companies must be described solely by their distance to Jessamyn.
posted by eriko at 8:06 AM on July 12, 2015 [10 favorites]


It's a combination of the building's construction, your carrier, and your phone.

Yes. In theory, EM radiation is a very simple process. You can easily model it and figure out exactly how far from the antenna it will be able to travel based on transmitter power, receiver sensitivity, and antenna gain.

In reality, the world is an extremely complex place and *everything* interacts with that EM radiation. Things that really mess with it, though, tend to be big hunks of metal that are electrically grounded -- a pretty damn good description of "downtown" in most cities -- or if you're inside a cage of metal and the mesh is small enough (though that's rare at cell frequencies.)

If you're in NW Logan Square/SW Avondale in Chicago and you have AT&T, your problem is AT&T sucks.


The things that really screw with your wifi at home? Your stove, refrigerator, furnace/AC, and washer/dryer, which are BIG METAL THINGS that are grounded, and if they're between you and the WiFi access point, they're screwing things up for you. Try to put your access point in a place so that when your sitting in the places you're usually sitting with your computer, there isn't any large metal appliance directly between you and the access point.

Another, if you're using the 2.4GHz band? Slightly leaky microwave ovens! Simplest way to check it to get a signal meter app, start it, and watch the signal and noise levels when you start/stop the microwave (put something in the microwave while you're doing that, though!) If this is the case, it's probably not enough of a leak to really worry you, unless you can pick up your microwave across the street on your wifi, but it does mean that you should look at checking the seal, and don't use it if you need a solid connection. Or get a new microwave oven, or a new WAP/WiFi setup that uses 5GHz, or a toaster oven. Or, heck, just order out.
posted by eriko at 8:20 AM on July 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


As a data point, when I went to the movies last night, the admonition during the previews was "Please silence your cell phones." If the light from silent use of cell phones is a problem, we might want to, you know, tell people that.
posted by bac at 11:12 AM on July 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


Was the movie theater close to Jessamyn?
posted by ctmf at 11:15 AM on July 12, 2015 [3 favorites]


I was at a Scissor Sisters show in DC a few years ago, and a guy standing right in the front, right in front of the fucking stage, was just standing there with a dopey grin on his face, texting or whatever, just staring at his screen and nothing else for at least 20 minutes while the band put on a fucking incredible show. Between songs, Ana Matronic called him out and asked him why he bothered coming to a show when he was just going to stare at a screen the entire time. Instead of responding, the guy started taking a video of Ana Matronic with his phone instead--to which Ana Matronic immediately swiped his phone from him, handed it to the bouncers, and told him that if he wanted his phone back, he would have to leave the show. The entire venue erupted in cheers. It was glorious.
posted by duffell at 8:51 PM on July 15, 2015 [5 favorites]


But where was Jessamyn?
posted by Going To Maine at 9:00 PM on July 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


All of a sudden I'm reminded of the Daily Show interview with Peter Dinklage where he said that one of the best security guys on the Game Of Thrones set was this big scary Croatian guy, who would, if he saw anyone taking pictures on their camera phone, walk over to them, take it from them, and throw it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:08 AM on July 16, 2015


Argh, I didn't want to name the place, or the city/state since it could be derived, and "New England" seemed generic and lame and I was looking for a metafiltery way to say it because I JUST WANT TO BELONG and what have I done

I am nowhere near Jessamyn right now, to the best of my knowledge..
posted by chazlarson at 8:37 AM on July 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


jessamyn is everywhere, in all things

Also, saw Minions on Tuesday (Banana!), and the warning thing at the theatre was really really non-ambiguous:

"Use of any personal electronic devices is prohibited."

Didn't see a single lit screen.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:41 AM on July 16, 2015


jessamyn is everywhere, in all things

Maybe we should start a MeTa asking that her "retired" tag be changed to "apotheosized."
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:06 AM on July 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


As someone who wears a medical device that can be mistaken for a cell phone, I eagerly await a solid punch to the face next time I go to the multiplex.

Rage on, people.
posted by benzenedream at 7:39 PM on July 16, 2015


As someone who wears a medical device that can be mistaken for a cell phone, I eagerly await a solid punch to the face next time I go to the multiplex.

Well, that depends - is it something that's just at your hip, or is it something you use to take selfies with or something you're typing on every two seconds?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:11 PM on July 16, 2015


But seriously - it's not like the mere sight of a cell phone sitting in a theater is going to make everyone point and shriek like Donald Sutherland in Invasion of the Body Snatchers or anything; it's the things that the rude people are doing with their phones that's the issue. And, maybe people could try just a scoche harder to remember that before posting the "but I have a thing and I bet you're gonna hate me booo" kinds of snark back?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:13 PM on July 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


But seriously - it's not like the mere sight of a cell phone sitting in a theater is going to make everyone point and shriek like Donald Sutherland

No, but medical devices do have audible alarms (which you can't always shut off) if something goes wrong, at which point the polite thing to do is to leave the play/class/whatever and disturb the other patrons less. But that doesn't prevent people from assuming the worst and throwing some unnecessary commentary your way in an already stressful situation.

I dislike vigilante justice stories like this because they encourage people to indulge in snap judgments and discard empathy. I'm all for staff quietly escorting people away who are causing a disruption to a show, but someone else's asshole behavior does not excuse your own in response to it. Some lady starts singing along with the aria in the opera? This person likely has some mental problems that will not be helped by people screaming at her in the lobby. Even if 99% of the people texting are narcissists, assuming the worst doesn't lead to good outcomes.
posted by benzenedream at 2:44 AM on July 17, 2015


....and similarly, 99% of the people in these threads are actually not "vigilantes", they are just expressing their frustration with those 99% of the narcissists. Surely we're allowed to do that?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:57 AM on July 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think people are generally tolerant of the occasional "oops" or emergency alarm/tone if the person quickly and quietly silences the device and steps out to take care of the situation.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 6:11 AM on July 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


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