Sunday, September 11, 2005

Baby Scapegoats

Mama-rama: Don't segregate women, kids
go to original article ... or email me for article text
"But then I remembered the time that I was sitting in a nice restaurant in Chicago - out by myself sans kids for the first time in months - and had to listen to a toddler at the table next to mine loudly whining, "Noooooo! Nooooooooo! Noooooooooooooo!" for at least 10 minutes. When I glanced over at the parents, they seemed oblivious to the fact that other diners were shifting uncomfortably in their seats and sighing loudly over their $25 plates of ahi tuna.

It then occurred to me that the problem isn't babies - it's clueless adults. I think the majority of moms are aware of the effect their kids are having on the general public around us. But it only takes one bad experience - a toddler running amok in a fancy restaurant, a relentlessly fussing baby in a movie theater - to give people the impression that not only are all kids loud and obnoxious, but most parents don't care."
Ain't that the truth.

Aside from rising ticket costs, the most pervasive problems facing theater operators are ones that arise because people aren't good at sharing space together. I don't think its that people don't care. In fact, most people are probably too sensitive about it. That's why they chafe when another person asks them to keep it down, or to take their baby outside.

But the problems are not the babies or cell phones themselves (as the solutions such as mother-only-shows might indicate). Culturally we need to learn how to give and receive criticism about being considerate of other people. And misdirecting the attention by telling people to keep their babies at home actually only perpetuates the problem by increasing people's sense of entitlement.

This topic, of course, is becoming a theme on this blog, but it is with good reason. Theater operators, as the stewards of one of the public's most commonly used shared spaces are in a unique position to build on the lessons we learn in kindergarten about sharing. And with their businesses dependant on it, they stand to gain a lot by making sharing a sophisticated adult virtue.


At 5:10 AM, Blogger APU 2 (APU LIGHTNING) said...

you should really read up on theater-going custom around the world, especially asian countries, where theater is becoming bigger and bigger. japan is interesting, for one thing, the custom of sitting quietly through the credits (everybody). when i visited dusty last year in tokyo, that was one of the things that tripped me out the most. i just saw a movie at a nicer theater in seoul, and though everything otherwise matched an american theater, some of the restrained behavior found in daily life found its way into viewing time, too. it was also interesting to see the lights come on, revealing an usher at the front, bidding everyone farewell cheerfully and standing by receptacles for recycling and trash, which most if not all people discarded their trash into without being asked.

At 2:24 PM, Blogger hollyg said...

and then there's st. vincent where people hold full-volume, full-length conversations on their cell phone, and the audience talks to the characters on the screen as if they could hear them. as someone who hates people and loves quiet, i actually got used to it and started to love the "audience participation". just like when we went to see "just like heaven" and people shouted out the obvious answer to not-too-bright mark ruffalo. i think we need to be less sensitive and more forgiving. screaming babies, though... :/


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