Blake Snow

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At the movies: Is applause appropriate in the absence of performers?

Whenever I hear a theater audience applauding for a movie, even one I enthusiastically approve of, I look like this:

awkwardapplause

At the same time, I’m happy to applaud during live events when the recipient of the applause — usually performers or athletes — are in attendance. But it’s always felt “wrong” for me to applaud after a pre-recorded film concludes, unless of course I knew the makers of that film were in the theater and I did in fact approve of their work.

Technically, however, the definition of applause makes no reference to my individual contingency:

Applause is primarily the expression of approval by the act of clapping, or striking the palms of the hands together, in order to create noise. Audiences are usually expected to applaud after a performance, such as a musical concert, speech, play, or sporting event. As a form of mass nonverbal communication, it is a simple indicator of the average relative opinion of the entire group; the louder and longer the noise, the stronger the sign of approval.–Wikipedia

So what do you think, Smooth Harold readers: Is applause appropriate in the absent of performers? If so, in what ways does applause benefit the consumers of the performance, be it live or recorded?

I suppose it can create a sense of belonging or shared beliefs among participants, even in the absence of the actual performers. But then again that would also seem to dilute the purpose of applause, no?

Image via Imugr