Annoying Things Audience Members Do (that aren’t actually that annoying at all)

Stage One: Tearing Your Hair Out

We’ve all been there, haven’t we? The grouchy look and huff at the girl sitting next to you in the cinema, obsessively typing on her phone and shining her light right into your retinas while you’re trying to concentrate on Ryan Gosling’s abs. The shoulder nudge at that concert towards that guy getting a bit too close? Even celebrities seem to have the same issues as us plebs! Shia LaBeauf’s breakdown at ‘Caberet‘ or Patti Lupone (bless her heart) snatching an audience member’s phone mid-show?

I’ve been a member of hundreds of audiences; operas, musicals, movies, concerts, tv shows but specifically I want to draw in on my experience of Groovin’ the Moo (an annual music festival held in Canberra). Being a festival, rules such as being quiet and calm, no eating or drinking and no phones don’t really apply (sorry Patti), actually, it’s quite the opposite. These ‘unspoken rules’ that we all believe to be gospel when being part of any audience are actually what makes festivals and concert experiences so much fun! Just take a look at this clip and imagine if everyone was silent and standing still? Not very fun right?

Stop dancing! Come back and read what I have to say!

One of the main things about audiences is that they have shifted from being passive to active throughout history (O’Neal, 2020). As John Fiske (1989) states “pop culture is made by the people, not by the industry”, so why are we as a group so focused on the rules and regulation of being an audience? We should be critical, responsive and active! (o’Neal, 2020)

Stage Two: Begrudging Acceptance

So how does this relate back to what we’ve been talking about all week? We’re supposed to be laughing with our mates and singing, enjoying amazing food and drinks and recording our favourite artists on our phones, even though at other experiences such as movies, this would be condemned. As stated in this week’s lecture, “having the same experience together in one place” is what makes a good audience (O’Neal, 2020). The anxieties surrounding audiences have faded over time. Gustave Le Bon’s theory that audiences couldn’t distinguish fact from fiction (the whole darting from the fictional train on the screen didn’t help matters) (O’Neal, 2020) has shifted over time as audiences have understood John Fiske’s way of thinking that “pop culture is made by the people, not by the industry” (O’Neal, 2020).

Think about the last concert you went to, think about the singing, laughing and dancing you witnessed and participated in. Being an audience member does have unspoken rules but once again, reiterating this week’s lecture, a good audience is “active, critical and actually uses the media as a part of their lives” (O’Neal, 2020). David Gauntlett also points out in his text ‘Ten Things Wrong with the Media Effect Model’ that for years many individuals were perceived to be easily influenced and extremely passive viewers of the media, however with the fluidity and ever-changing nature of media forms, we evolve, as do our standards for viewing it. An example of this idea of thinking would be shown in the quote “surveys show that the public feel that the media may cause other people to engage in antisocial behaviour, almost no-one ever says that they have been affected in that way themselves” (Gauntlett 2020, p.7.) In other words, even though past audience portrayals have been negative, this isn’t always the case! People should be given more credit for their viewing habits.

Stage Three: Bit of shhh at the movies, bit of boogie everywhere else

Heading back to my own personal experience as an active audience member, I believe that this version of media is actually enhanced in its own specialised way, as is with every other type of media. I try to believe that it’s okay for audiences to have a set of ‘unspoken rules’ such as only talking when invited to or remaining alert but I also think that we’re smart enough to adapt and view our media in more critical ways. 

Here, Here!

Gauntlett, D., 2005. Moving Experiences. Eastleigh, UK: John Libbey Pub

O’Neal, K 2020, ‘Media Audiences’ Moodle Slides, BCM110, University of Wollongong, Viewed 14 March 2020

Youtube, 2019 ‘Oliver Heldens @ Ultra Music Festival Miami 2019 #Ultra2019’ online video, 1st April, Viewed 6th April <>

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