One expects talking and howling and other inappropriate outbursts during certain movies, which are mostly attended by a particular contingent – young stupid punk kids who got no respect for nothin’. Fortunately these delinquents seldom attend plays or art films, lacking as they do the constitution and refinement to appreciate the higher arts. No, the audience for plays and art films is made up of mostly hipsters and intellectuals. They read the NY Times and the New Yorker, go to museums and art galleries, the ballet, vote Democrat, are often vegetarians, own bicycles... anyway, you know the ones. One would imagine that having been brought up in a genteel environment, having had the benefits of higher education and having an interest in the humanities, that these people would know how to behave as audience members, especially the older ones, having grown more wise and restrained over the years, etc. Unfortunately, they don’t.
I was watching a play. It was a matinee so the audience was mostly older. The house was tiny, the size of a living room, and there was no barrier between us and the action; we were right there. The play was excellent. Yet at least three people left in the middle of the performance. One was seated next to the door so her departure, though noticeable mostly because of the noise, was not outrageously disruptive. Then there was more noise at the door. This was either another cunt leaving or the first cunt coming back in. Irritating but not unbearable. But then this couple sitting basically on what was the stage, to where if they stood up they would actually be in the performance space, got up and left. These were people in their 60’s, obviously educated, middle class or better, attending plays in the City. Plus, the man had a press kit with him. He was a critic! Yet they felt it was ok to get up in the middle of a 90 minute show, walk through nearly the entire performance space while the actors were working, and exit. And it wasn’t like the actors were defecating on stage or raping children, they were in fact acting quite beautifully in a beautiful show. I would be mortified to do this, to walk out as these people had done. Nothing short of extreme diarrhea or some other life-threatening emergency could get me to do something like that. But these people seem to think that if they feel like doing it, it’s ok to do it. Well fuckers it’s not! It’s not ok, you bald fucking liver-spotted assholes! It’s not. Your fucking job as an audience member is to sit there and shut the fuck up. Period. So sit there and be quiet for 90 minutes. Don’t open your candies, don’t eat your crackers, don’t play with your fucking cell phone, don’t whisper to your goddamned date! Do you think you can do that?! (And now I’m speaking to you and your wife in particular you old shitbag critic who walks out in the middle of a performance, just in case by some miracle you happen to stumble across this article!) Because if you can’t do that, don’t come to the show! Nobody wants you there. Nobody cares if you show up. If you get squished by a bus on the way over nobody is going to miss you! Just don’t disrupt the fucking play you useless dipshits! (The play, by the way, was Tender Napalm. My review is right here: http://www.stageandcinema.com/2012/08/29/tender-napalm/)
In my 20’s I used to go to a lot of art films but finally I couldn’t take the audience anymore and stopped. At every single one of these things there was some cunt who felt he or she (mostly he) absolutely needed everyone else in the audience to know that he got the joke, that he got the irony of whatever happened. “Haha-hehe,” would be the noise he would make to let all of us know just how fucking clever he is. What a clever asshole you are, laughing in the middle of a serious, emotional scene, because you caught the director’s ironic nuance! Bully for you motherfucker! You fucking worthless idiot! Did that scene MAKE you laugh? Or did you laugh because you thought it was intended to be funny, you fucking turd!?! And one would think someone watching Bergman or Tarkovsky would know better, would, if not be too busy communing with the film to comment on it, at least have the good manners to show respect. After all, it takes a fine sensibility to appreciate Tarkovsky and Bergman. But no! These fuckers just need to be heard, “HAHAHA!” Shut your face you used-up douche, nobody cares - we all got the joke! We all know the fucking references the director is making! We’ve all read Dostoyevsky and Camus. Hey, professor, we don’t need to hear your explanation to your stupid-hat-wearing nineteen-year-old nitwit vegan basket case girlfriend of what the director was trying to say in that scene. You have nothing to teach us. Nothing! Except that you’re a jerkoff and a buffoon. And the thing is, half the time these people don’t actually understand what the fuck they’re laughing at. I remember watching Rocco and His Brothers, arguably Visconti’s best film. There was a shot of the mother screaming after learning of the death of one of her sons. It’s such a helpless old-woman scream, so pathetic, so raw and undignified that in a way I guess you could say it was funny to see someone so pathetic screaming so helplessly – that is if that someone wasn’t a mother who’d just lost her son. The scene was very uncomfortable and intentionally so. But these pinheads in the audience laughed. Maybe some laughed because the emotion of the moment was too much for them – hipsters and intellectuals are notorious for being terrified of emotion – and rather than invest themselves in it they chose to chuckle it away. But I know that a good deal of the laughers were thinking that this shot was supposed to be funny in some bizarre ironic way, that Visconti was being melodramatic. Because these clowns not only don’t know how to comport themselves in a movie theater but also have no souls and can’t see anything beyond “irony” and melodrama. Ironically, they don’t in fact notice real irony; to them irony is synonymous with kitsch, nothing more. These are the same people who value cleverness over thoughtfulness.
These people need to be stopped. I’ve been trying to do my part: During a screening of a documentary about Paradjanov, I frightened a bespectacled intellectual in his fifties picking chips from a crackling plastic bag by quietly suggesting that he “...go and crunch-a-munch those fucking things somewhere else.” He didn’t look at me but stuffed the bag into the pocket of his tweed jacket, then left. I told a girl giggling and yakking it up with her boyfriend during Funny Games to shut her mouth (I hated that movie so much I was hoping her boyfriend would do something so I could give them both a beating and then have an excuse to leave the theater). During Moonrise Kingdom there were some kids giggling behind me, a few seats to my left. They mostly did it during legitimately funny moments, which I would never begrudge them (I am not a Nazi!). But then they would laugh at more and more things which were not funny and this was becoming irritating. But every time, just as it would get bad enough for me to say something, their giggling would subside. The other thing was, my admonishing them would cause a rise of adrenaline within me, creating feelings and thoughts which would hinder my enjoyment of the film. So my dilemma was, is their giggling bad enough to warrant me igniting those feelings? And would the aftermath of a confrontation be more detrimental to my enjoyment than their giggling? (You see what bullshit your giggling put me through you little idiots!) Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore. I turned around and tried to get their attention without disturbing other audience members. But the three of them were too busy having fun, they didn’t notice; they were teenagers, two guys and a girl or two girls and a guy, I couldn’t tell. So I crumpled up a napkin and threw it at them. It bounced off a girl’s forehead (this hadn’t been my intention but I’m not an accurate thrower). The girl looked over at me, startled and perhaps a little frightened. I put my index finger to my lips and went “Shshsh.” They never laughed inappropriately again after that.
These are not heroic deeds and there were opportunities I missed to correct people which I regret. My point is, if you hear one of these assholes, put them in their place. And if you see someone else admonishing them, support that person. These fuckers are not in their goddamned living rooms watching Netflix. They are members of an audience. And as audience members they have a responsibility to....well, I think I’ve made my point.