Cultural Imperialist

"Scathing Spats on Shallow Subjects"


Fri Jul 28




Standing Ovations Suck

Image courtesy of Giavasan

Standing ovations are basically an orgy of mutual masturbation, but due to public decency laws have taken the form of, well, standing and clapping. Think about it. Everyone stands at attention, stroking the artists'... egos. It makes you feel good. It makes the performer feel good. Everyone is privy to the happiness and elation of everyone around them, and each also has a private sensation of pleasure, and unless you're doing it wrong, the payoff at the end is a climax of clapping that results in the orgasmic encore...

Okay, so the metaphor is a bit stretched. So try this on for size.

Standing ovations suck. They sap the event of its spontaneity, since they are now the par dessert of any social evening; they are expected and even anticipated, and thus disingenuous. What once was a signal that the audience recognized and rewarded the impressive talents of the evening has become passé, empty of meaning and divorced of all original intent.

It is the stillborn fetus of the evening; yes, it comes out, but it is pretty bloody useless as well as tragic.

The theory goes, standing ovations are the mark of respect by the audience on behalf of the performer for an unusually brilliant performance. But in this age of Twitter and dwindling newspaper revenues and burst housing bubbles, the fact that anyone even came to the performance should be a mark of respect and admiration. When ticket sales for philharmonics, operas, and theatrical performances have plummeted and funding for the arts has dwindled into a wasted uranium slag stream, it would seem the occasion for standing ovation should be the audience actually showing up, and if anyone should stand, it would be the performers, and they should do so as the audience enters the auditorium. The correct accolade should be, "Thanks for showing up and subsidizing us!"

But that's pretending there's worth in the audience, a sad myth entrapping both sides. There is no worth in the people filling the seatholes of the latest rendering of Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 4 or the laughing hoi polloi at Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson.

Standing ovations tax the already burdened audience member, who must contend with his own cultural ignorance as he tries to ascertain whether the performance was A) actually good; and B) that he understood it. On top of that, the ignoramus is now faced with the frightening prospect: Do I stand with the rest of the sheeple or should I sit and proffer my disdain for outmoded social conventions and earn the ire of my fellow attendees? It is a quandary that would vex even the most cultured patron of the arts, much less the brainless masses who dress to impress and show the world they are aware because they read the Calendar section of the Los Angeles Times.

What's even worse is the ovation grudgingly given by an audience too dumb or too bored but also too cowardly not to shut the hell up and just leave. When the performance is not the greatest thing since that threesome in Cancun you had in college, then half-heartedly clapping a few times isn't doing anyone any favors.

Ovations should be returned to the place of ancient but outdated traditions, alongside the sacrificial virgins and Masses spoken only in Latin. Stand up to this stupid custom by staying in your seat. Unless you just don't know what the hell is going on.

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