by Loren A. Roberts (guru of multi-hyphenate media)
Please tell me if I’m out of line. Remember this commercial? I thought that this was impossible -- parents would never be this rude.
Disclaimer: I film my kids’ recitals. But I use a small camera, and I set up on the extreme edges of the room — either on the far left, far right, or better (if the room is small enough) in the very back. That way, no one is distracted by my camera.
The parents were not so courteous at the recital I attended last week. Setting the scene: this is a music conservatory, so we’re at a group recital, with each kid (maybe 25 of them) playing one or two or three songs. Kids are young: maybe eight to sixteen year old.
Every parental group had at least one iPhone or iPad out filming. Have you ever been behind a fullsize iPad while it is filming? It's gigantic. Now imagine all of this in a darkened room, with parents maneuvering to "get the best shot," while the little ones are on stage playing classical music. No one turned their audio off, so everytime someone takes a picture, you get the iPhone’s "click" sound. And then, just to cap it off, somebody’s little brother decided to make sure they got the piece filmed correctly, so he played it back (at low volume) during someone else’s recital piece.
Seriously, where did etiquette go? Did I miss the memo that it is now okay to be rude at concerts and recitals and shows in general? Please, somebody tell me if my expectations for audience behavior is wrong...
IT WASN’T ALWAYS THIS WAY
Interestingly, back when Mozart was writing, he fully expected that people would eat, talk, and do whatever the hell they wanted to during his performances. The end of the nineteenth century was when modern concert etiquette came into being, with Mahler and Wagner leading the charge for quiet audiences.1
Nowadays, we have entire Broadway shows on YouTube. And we have the aforementioned commercial, where the parents fight for the best camera angle.
What we don’t have is courtesy for the performers or the other audience members.
Is this the unavoidable result of the loss of civility in society? Can we fix it?
LOREN A. ROBERTS produces films, videos and music, is an award-winning art director, plays and sings in bands -- sometimes for money, and is a student of what happens when science and technology and the arts and culture collide. www.hearkencreative.com
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