Talk amongst yourselves

Question - In the movie theater, why do people clap after a movie? What's up with that phenomenon? I mean, clapping generally is used when people want to express their appreciation for someone or something such as a play, or speaker, etc.

Dictonary.com defines applause as, "Approval expressed especially by the clapping of hands". So are these people basically standing up and announcing their approval for the movie? A movie is basically an inanimate object - it can't hear that people in the movie theater are clapping in appreciation for it, so why do it? Is it because people want to announce their approval for the movie so everyone in the theater can know? I mean why does anyone else care if other people in the movie enjoyed it? Why do we care what Joe Moviegoer in the 4th row thought of the movie? Does it change your view of a movie if people start to clap?

Some thoughts:

A) People clap because they are bursting with "good feelings" after the movie ends - Ok so if this theory were true, wouldn't the same people clap at home after a good movie? I highly doubt these applauders are standing up in their living room clapping after watching a five star flick. Surely there are other times when people burst with "good feelings" - Do these people clap after a good meal in a restaurant? After a torrid afternoon of hot sex? After drinking that delicious coffee first thing on a Sunday morning after some rediculously good sex but before reading the paper?

B) People clap because they want everyone else arond them to know that they enjoyed the film so much that they are bursting with "good feelings". Ahh now this one may make a smidge more sense. The first clapper - he's the guy that starts it all - I mean once he starts, the rest of the people in category A or C also join in and start their clapping. Makes me wonder if this clap initiator guy is intentionally clapping or it is just an automatic response to the silence that fills the theater after a good movie. Is this guy the one that must always be first? Does he crave attention? Does it give him some secret satisfaction to know that HE started the clapping that everyone joined in on? Does he look around during the applause and think with a smirk of pure satisfaction, I started all this ?

C) Clapping is a way to unite the audience
- When the whole theater breaks out into clapping after the flick - it sends the message that everyone enjoyed the movie and if you didn't enjoy it, there just might be something wrong with you. This is sort of like a weird form of peer pressure - Say you really didn't care for the movie and everyone around you is clapping away like crazed monkeys - maybe you'd eventually join in. Maybe you'd leave the theater wondering what it was that you missed in the movie. Maybe you'd even go see it again - or tell someone that you really liked it, when you really didn't. Maybe you'd just leave feeling insecure and shitty - or maybe - just maybe you'd leave wondering wtf is up with all that clapping.

6 comments:

EOB said...

I think I'm going to start clapping at everything I find pleasing. Good service at a restaurant .. *clap* *clap* *clap*.
Someone lets me out into traffic ... *clap* *clap* *clap*. The bagger at Stop & Shop packs my shit with minimal bags yet still separates meat and produce ... *clap* *clap* *clap*. Good post ... *clap* *clap* *clap*.

katie said...

or maybe people are just obsessed with the clapper

Bags said...

*clap* *clap* *clap*
shit the lights turned out!

Bags said...

I like to clap when watching or listening to the Red Sox on the radio. (have not had much to clap at lately, but...)

But I don't clap at the movies. I think if it was a great movie about a real life event that inspired me then I would clap.

Hard to type in the dark!
*clap* *clap* *clap*

AH! Much better!

Meave said...

You can all admit that you clapped at the Yoda fight scene in Star Wars Attack of the Clones.

ann said...

Everyone can relate to this somehow! Look at all of the responses-- I'm sure there is a real clap initiator out there and would love to hear the reasoning behind this phenomena!