I just read a 3.25.24 article titled “Stop Laughing at Old Movies — audiences behaving badly at the theater, concerts, and everywhere else.”

The author is Jessica Crispin, who runs a Substack blog called “The Culture We Deserve.”

It reminded me of a 2012 Toronto Film Festival screening of Joe Wright‘s Anna Karenina. I was sitting in the seventh or eighth row, and during the third act some uncouth animals began chuckling at an emotional scene that wasn’t in the least bit funny. I distinctly recall whipping my head around and glaring at them.

I generally hate groups of people who laugh loudly in any context outside of watching comedies. I can tolerate laughter but only in short bursts, and that means no shrieking. I can be walking down a Manhattan street and if a group of younger people start to shriek-laugh at something, I’ll immediately flinch and snarl to myself “those fucking assholes…why don’t they shut the hell up?”

The second-to-last paragraph in Crispin’s piece mentions that during a presumably recent screening of Blow-Up, people in the audience were cackling “at the mimed game of tennis, a group of people playing with an imaginary ball. It doesn’t get past me that [this is a] representation of atomization and isolation, the absolute inability to connect. The whoop of laughter is a signal to say ‘not me.’ And it’s pathetic because it suggests exactly the opposite.”

If I’d been at that Blow-Up screening I would’ve…okay, I wouldn’t have gotten up and thrown the remainder of my soft drink into the laps or faces of the chucklers — way too aggressive — but I definitely would’ve followed the chucklers into the lobby after it ended and politely asked, “Sorry to bother but if you don’t mind answering, what did you guys find funny about the silent tennis ball scene? I’m just curious because I’ve never heard a group of people laughing at it and I’ve seen Blow-Up several times. I mean, are you guys a new breed of some kind?”