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Posts Tagged ‘manners’

Singaporeans are good at following rules. They seldom walk across a road unless the green man tells them to, and they queue quietly and dutifully for taxis and at restaurants.

So it comes as a surprise to find that this seldom applies at the theatre or cinema.

It is not uncommon for locals to arrive 20 minutes or even half an hour late, and for ushers to let them in without admonishment.

When they do arrive, it is not uncommon for them to not only talk, giggle and play with their iphones all the way through the show, but also to munch their way through the equivalent of a three-course meal.

So it was with some relief that a friend and I recently found that we unexpectedly had the back row of the cinema to ourselves.

When we purchased our tickets the whole row was  booked, apart from two seats separated by another seat. We took these, thinking we could ask our fellow patrons if we could swap and sit next to each other, if it did not inconvenience them too much.

But when the movie finally started our row was still empty, so we sat together.

About 10 minutes later, the three seats at the end of the row were filled by two girls and a guy with the usual crate of food and who, as usual, laughed, talked and played with their phones throughout the movie

But there were nine seats in this row, so there were still four vacant seats between us.

We were engrossed in the movie when another 10 minutes later, a young couple came in and made their way to our row.

The young man looked indignant. “You are in our seats,” he said.

As there were still four vacant seats in this row and moving would be disruptive to the others this late into the program,  I asked if I could stay in my seat.

The young man reluctantly agreed, but clearly was annoyed.  This was his seat and he felt entitled to it – and entitled to come whenever he pleased to claim it.

I was annoyed, too. It  was damned rude to come in so late and stand on ceremony, especially when he was not being disadvantaged.

“It didn’t help that you were 20 minutes late,” I grumbled.

The young man stopped abruptly and, still standing, suddenly announced in a loud and injured tone, “I am now very upset. I would like to you to move from our seats.”

I moved and the young man and woman spent the next 15 minutes talking loudly throughout the movie.

“That’s the first rude Singaporean I’ve met,” I said to my friend  later.

It did make me wonder about cultural etiquette.

It’s all very well to spend millions of dollars on cultural centres and cinema houses, but cultural education is another thing.

What this young man lacked was theatre manners.

A theatre audience is a team, and you are required to respond and behave as a team.

Out of respect for the performers, or in this case, fellow cinema-goers, you do not come late and you do not play with your phone and giggle or talk as if you are sitting in your own lounge room.

This is the behaviour of children, not adults.

And if you do arrive late and other cinema goers have therefore reasonably assumed you are not coming and have taken your seat – only because there are plenty of vacant seats in the row – then it is the mature and courteous thing not to make a scene.

I still enjoyed the movie, although I doubt that this particular patron would have got much out of it, as the first 20 minutes were crucial to the plot.

Perhaps this explains why most of the movies that are shown here are blockbuster action movies, with goodies and baddies and predictable outcomes that even those who can’t or won’t pay attention can still understand.

 

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