Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Ranting Nonsequitur: Audience Fail

It is a perverse irony that in a time when we are more technologically able to philanthropically and altruistically support the work of artists, we are also less inclined to do so.
Why? Because that same technology enables more people in the audience to produce/ distribute more of their own creations.
Rather than commit their time and money and effort to other creators and artistic projects, many in the audience make their own stuff. Rather than be participants in an audience-- as an audience, they more often seek an audience of their own. Therefore, many of these new creators are less committed as audience members. They are more into their message than yours. Unfortunately, there is also a demented & misguided impression of thinking an art experience is all about the audience (or is somehow supposed to be), and that the art/artist exists to serve & "include" or "immerse" the audience. The audience can't simply be the audience anymore, it feels a need to "co-create" or co-own to some degree.
Or perhaps considering the massive influx of available creativity to be audience members of, they haven't the time or will to commit to so many, or maybe feel overwhelmed by the abundance of options. Essentially, they are over-extended... so choose to withhold or reduce not only their commitment levels, but their commitment menu. Instead of committing to all they would like to, they commit to none.

But diminished audience commitment also derives from a lack of both imagination and patience. I've actually heard many people give the excuse that failure of imagination and patience kept them from watching & being able to appreciate an excellent show. They admit, not directly in so many words, just being too lazy or unimaginative to exert the effort in figuring out what the story is about, seeing where it goes (or could go) and to allow time to properly develop.
Rendered so innered by a short attention span, these deficient audiences cannot respect the Story (or the story) enough to let it establish a foundation over time, to let it grow & evolve. They want everything handed to and explained to them in quick, simple terms-- and they want it immediately. What fun is that? You'd force a very dull and truncated story.
However, that's not how great stories are made, intrinsically requiring audience involvement of attention. And because of this fundamental disrespect for the story--- and indeed the story telling process-- awesome shows get prematurely canceled, or rejected before even being greenlit.
For many others, the reason for commitment fail is selfishness and a sense of entitlement to free stuff they take for granted.

Audience disrespect also often inhibits my enjoyment of concerts. I consider it enormously disrespectful-- to the band AND audience-- when those in the audience sing along or talk among themselves; either of which activity disrupts the music. I'm baffled why anyone would not only want to do that, but dare to. You're given an opportunity to hear musicians you allegedly adore make music for you, live and in person... and you're going to sing OVER them? Or talk while they are singing/playing? That is tantamount to negligent disrespect. Why did you even bother to come? You could sing along with them elsewhere on your own time-- why do it at the concert and ruin this experience? I'm not there to hear the crowd sing (badly & incoherently), I've paid money and drove out to hear these musicians perform live. You are not the only one in the audience and this isn't about you. It is about the music and the people creating it. Could you please have the decency to not disturb your fellow audience members, and to respect the music/musicians by being silent, listening and gratefully paying attention? The same applies to being in a movie theater while the film is in progress. SHUT. UP.

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