Thursday, April 24, 2008

Miss Manners III: Standing Ovations

[Betty Edit would like to state that she agrees 100% with Miss Manners' comments in this matter, despite the fact, or possibly because of the fact, that she herself has been the recipient of many standing ovations.]

Dear Miss Manners:

At the end of every performance I have attended over the last few years, the performers have always been honored with a standing ovation. Do you think that the quality of these performances has greatly improved over the last twenty years or the ability of the audience to discriminate between mediocre and the great has been lost?

Gentle Reader:

Miss Manners suspects that the audience is having difficulty discriminating between the robust tradition of judging a performance and the sweet but less thrilling inclination to reward the performers simply for having gotten through it. Unaware that audience response is supposed to render artistic judgment, people now speak of "thanking the performers."

Miss Manners doesn't like to discourage generosity. Nevertheless, she is sorry that this approach has changed the standing ovation from a rare and valued tribute into the equivalent of the tip awarded the taxi driver simply for having completed the trip.


ol' Bob said...

AAAAAAAMEN! I refuse to stand for a post-performance show of enthusiasm until I can no longer see the stage, and even then only if I think something interesting might be happening on stage.

The standing ovation has become a conditioned response at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza theater (maybe it's a theatre). At the first bow, someone will pop up and applaud wildly while standing. The first few to their feet always seem to occupy seats in the front three rows.

Blah. Sit down.

Rebecca said...

If everyone else is standing because they liked it and throwing me nasty looks because I'm still sitting, I feel obligated to stand, even if I just liked it (as opposed to loved it). You're right--it's too bad it's lost the original meaning.