Expanding Radical Civility: What About Concerts?
So far during the brief life of the Radical Civility movement, I have been focused on one thing: texting during movies. My aim has been to start modestly. But pondering inappropriate behavior in one setting inevitably raises questions of inappropriate behavior in other settings. Which leads us to today's discussion. Here's a message I received from Maureen Carrington:
I may be a day late and a dollar short but, thank you so much for enlightening me I'm not alone in my frustration over cell phones/texting in theatres. Over Memorial Day Weekend my husband and I saw Little Feat at the Rams Head Live in Annapolis, MD. The people at the table in front of us (directly in view of the stage) were texting and using their cell phones during the entire concert. It was such a distraction. I was puzzled about it at the time thinking I why are these people not just enjoying a great show?
Let's face it people can get really aggressive and hostile when the feel they are being wronged and I did not want to make a scene. Next time I will speak to the house manager. Thanks for taking a stand.
Keep that in mind as you read this message from reader Nancy Premen:
On June 13, my sister and I attended the George Strait concert at Nissan Pavilion. We were very excited, as George is renowned to do a fantastic concert and we had great seats. When we arrived at the venue, we were even more thrilled. We were in Section 103, Row E--literally right behind the Orchestra section and very close.
The first entertainer, Julianne Hough, was very good and we enjoyed it thoroughly. Then the second entertainer, Blake Shelton came on stage. As soon as he started his first song, two very large ladies stood up directly in front of us by two rows. We figured that after showing their obvious enthusiasm for this singer, that they would then seat themselves for the rest of his set. Unfortunately, we were very wrong.
Directly in front of us (and thus directly behind the 'ladies'), a gentleman and his wife were obviously becoming as concerned as we were. Finally, he tapped one 'lady' on the shoulder and pointed to all of us and asked if she and her friend would sit down. She nastily said "I paid for these tickets and I'm standing." To which, she then turned around and smiling from ear-to-ear proceeded to "entertain" us with her "dancing." Obviously, we were stunned. The man then went to an usher to complain. The usher asked the women to sit down and they refused. He shrugged and walked away. The man then went to someone who was obviously a head usher or in some kind of more powerful role and we then saw the man and his wife move to other seats.
Puzzled, I went down to this same "usher." He proceeded to tell me that there was nothing that he could do--that as long as the woman was standing in front of her seat (even though it was also in front of all of ours), she could do that. He then told me that my sister and I could move to other seats , but if those people arrived, we'd have to move back.
We ended up moving four times. It was horrible. We couldn't relax through any of the concert as there was the constant "fear" that the true owners of the seats would rightfully appear. We did end up with good seats and were able to somewhat relax about half-way through George Strait's set. Meanwhile, the woman and her friend stood through-out the entire 3 1/2 hours. When it was obvious that she was tiring, she still refused to sit down--instead proceeding to sit on the top of the chair and continue to block everyone's view. I might also add that she then encouraged her other two very large friends to stand also --thus making an effective "fence" on row 3 of our section. I was stunned and appalled that anyone could be so out-right RUDE!! I might also add that a large portion of this audience consisted of older individuals who could not easily move away from obstacles to viewing such as this.
Where is the fairness here? All of us paid as much for our tickets as she did and yet our concert was ruined by her rudeness and that of her friends. I understand that at a concert, people can be excited--but to rudely stand throughout a concert is ridiculous. Standing for a song and then sitting back down so that everyone can enjoy what they paid for seems to be the right answer to me.
Your thoughts, John?
So here we have two cases involving live musical entertainment. In general I am more relaxed about things like texting at a concert (rock, pop, hip-hop, non-classical) than I am at a movie or live theatrical presentation. At a concert there is no "plot" to follow, per se. Plus, it's loud and, usually, raucous. I may think it's dumb to text during a show you've paid to see, but that just goes with the territory.
Now, I haven't been to Ram's Head but Maureen mentioned tables. The Birchmere has tables and is known as a "listening room." You're not supposed to be raucous. You're not even supposed to talk. I don't know how texting goes over there. While I would prefer people in my line of sight not to be texting and talking on a cell phone during a performance at a tabled venue, I don't know if the house manager could be expected to stop it, especially if an announcement wasn't made beforehand.
Now, to Nissan Pavilion. I've been in both situations at arena concerts. I've been behind people who want to stand more than I want to and I've been in front of people who preferred that I sit down. It's a matter of degree. Concerts--good ones, anyway--have a rhythm, an ebb and a flow. There are times when you are moved to stand up and times, during slow songs for instance, when the crowd seems to settle into its seats.
The large standing lady is guilty of ignoring that rhythm. She is guilty of being rude. She knew that people behind her didn't want to stand during the whole concert and yet she forced that upon them. Even worse, she went out of her way to be uncivil, urging her friends to stand, creating a huge fleshy wall for the express purpose of ruining other peoples' evenings.
I don't know what you can do in such a situation. The usher is probably right that she was breaking no rule. She paid for her ticket, it was a country music show in a pavilion, she's allowed to stand or sit as she sees fit. He might have approached her with, "Ma'am, can you just sit on the slow ones to give the folks behind you a chance to rest their legs?" but I bet she wouldn't have cared. He tried to help people by moving them to different seats, though that was not a perfect solution.
All we may hope for is that karma will get this woman, that she will break both legs in an accident and be confined for some period of time to a wheelchair, forced to look at peoples' behinds at the next concert she goes to.
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