Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Finally, something to do at the theatre...

Look out everybody, the theatre community is upset! What's got everyone's ruffled collars and dance belts in a twist? This AT&T ad the company tweeted:
Incidentally, when referring to the live performance as opposed to the cinema,
the preferred spelling is theatre. With an 're' (source: pretentiousness).
"What? It's called method acting..."
-Kevin Spacey*
Cellphones in theatres are totally a problem. Apart from being intensely rude, a ringing cell or a text or the light from a screen can be totally distracting to the actors on stage. Kevin Spacey would stop in the middle of his production of Richard III and break character so he could call out anyone who failed to silence their phone. Yup, public shaming from a guy famous for murdering children and usurping the throne. Richard III that is, not Kevin Spacey. That we know of...

This, but with social media,
and you know, lazier.
Anyway, outraged tweets followed and Playbill's website responded by asking if the company thought it was ok to tell their customers that playing with your phone in a theatre was ok. AT&T deleted the tweet and apologized saying:

"We love and listen to the thespian community. The ad wasn't meant to be taken literally and we meant no disrespect."

-AT&T, issuing 
a tweeta culpa

And that's nice, but of course they meant a little disrespect. The ad suggests that whipping out your cell during a play is not only a totally acceptable thing to do, but also the right thing to do. After all, plays are stupid and lame and not football. Sure, if you wait a few hours the football game can be summed up with a few numbers, but why wait? I mean, it's just a play.
Ok folks, it's the top of act III and brave Mercurio is dead, making the
score Capulet: 1, Montague: 0....yeah, ok, I guess it works with theatre too.
So, like an arthouse movie.
Public perception is kind of a sore spot for the theatre community. People who love theatre know it's awesome because it's alive and immediate in a way that recorded media like movies or television can never be. But if you're not into it and only have cultural references to go by, the theatre probably seems elitist and dull. In pop culture it's routinely shrugged off as a long, pretentious and boring alternative to movies.

"Pfft...the arts? Am I right guys?"
I used to work in a theatre and walking through the lobby during intermission you'd see these straight guys there with their dates. Just to let everyone know they'd rather be somewhere else and also how gay they're not, they'd always announce loudly how glad they were that it was finally half-time. Half-time. Get it? Men love sports. Men get dragged to the theatre. The unspoken message of AT&T's ad, apart from 'hey, buy our shit,' is that the theatre sucks and sports are awesome.

My favorite part is when the quarterback
scores an inning. Go sports team!
It's just how people see it, and it can be a sensitive subject for fans. The problem isn't so much the ad, although seriously, turn off your goddamn phone, the problem is the reenforcement of its bullshit and unfair reputation as the opposite of all fun. Also, it's insulting to sports fans. It's like they're saying that you have to choose. I know loads of theatre people who also love sports. Football, tennis and uh, what's the other one? Cricket? The point is there's room in our lives for more than interest.

*to be clear: I'm not accusing Kevin Spacey or murdering anyone or usurping anything. Again, that we know of...

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