This morning’s Stupid Tuesday question was lifted straight from my morning drive. There was a segment about whether or not it is acceptable to leave a performance at intermission if you’re not having a good time. Those who object to the practice apparently do so out of deference for the performers’ feelings, which are hurt as they look out from the stage and see all the newly-empty seats.
To my mind, this is a ridiculously stupid question. So stupid, in fact, I can’t believe they thought it worth asking, much less debating (if playfully) during a radio segment. As much as I would hate to hurt anyone’s feelings, preventing this potential outcome is worth far less to me than an hour or more of my time. If I’m not enjoying myself, I’m gone. In fact, sitting through a performance one is not enjoying is my favorite example of the sunk costs fallacy.
I can only remember one instance of actually doing so, however. (I’ve left a few movies midway through [confidential to RW: sorry about that one time], but it seems that’s a different question, since nobody on screen can see you leave and feel bad about it.) I was seated way up high in the balcony at Lincoln Center, so I’m pretty sure nobody could tell if I was there or not. However, I would have left anyway. I am sad to report it was a performance of a gay men’s chorus in New York City, which I found kind of hackneyed and twee. As I told a good friend when I met up with her later that evening, “It was like being slowly roasted over a low, gay flame.” Not my cuppa.
So, this week’s question — is it just that I have a cold, dark tar heart? Does my callous disregard for the feelings of performers, desperately hoofing it for my withheld approval, simply evince my underlying misanthropy? Or is it OK to leave at intermission if you’re not enjoying the performance? And if so, have you done it, and why?