We attended our niece's high school graduation this past weekend, and once again I was reminded of something -- as a culture, we seem to have no concept of audience behavior. Well, that's not entirely true. We do have a concept. Apparently how we behave at football games is fine for all situations.
1) Whatever's happening on the field (or stage) is as removed from the viewer as an image on a TV screen. So talking, texting, moving around to visit with friends is fine -- just like it is at home.
2) "Whoo" is not an optional way to show approval -- it's required. And if you can get the attention of the athletes/performers by yelling, so much the better. Air horns are good, too.
3) Fun's fun, but traffic's a drag. Once you've seen what you've come to see, leave and beat the crowd out of the parking lot.
I have no gripes with any of these behaviors at a sporting event -- it's part of the experience. But a band concert, or a ballet recital, or an awards ceremony, or graduation? Sorry, not appropriate. Sometimes just applause is enough. Staying to the end of the event has its own rewards -- you never know what you'll see.
At the heart of it all is just plain courtesy. Staying to the end shows respect for the performers/athletes and what they're doing. Cheering appropriately maintains the decorum of the event. And sitting quietly (regardless of actual interest level) shows respect for other audience members.
The young men and women of the Class of '09 comported themselves well at graduation. If only the members of their audience had done the same.