My conclusion has to be that there are some things about living in another culture that you can adapt to, but some you can't…
After last month's more serious column, I'm going back to light-hearted for this one with a short anecdote. I went to the Balmes cinema with my wife to see Ron Howard's Beatles documentary on a Saturday night not long ago. It was in “original version”, or as we say in English, it had subtitles, and was screened at 10.00 p.m. It was also full of endless 1960s footage of four young lads from Liverpool whom it was doubtless difficult to understand if you were not a native speaker. And it was a documentary about music, so there were lots of music clips in there. But despite the above, that doesn't mean you can just TALK through the entire film, does it?!
Even though my upbringing was not the slightest bit Catholic, when I was young I believe it was actually considered a sin to talk during a film at the cinema, such was the social stigma attached to it. However, I have been to cinemas in the UK since my childhood and I must admit that things have changed, the amount of talking having increased in direct proportion to individuals' increasing sense of entitlement; that is, the more UK residents have become accustomed to every advert, TV programme and website telling them that we are all interested in their voice, opinion or what they have to say, the more I have noticed people happy to chat in the cinema during the adverts and whisper during the film itself, which is of course annoying. But what happened during the aforementioned Beatles film was people talking OUT LOUD to their partners during the film, something that I have also noticed increasingly in my adopted culture with the passing of the years. Out loud! In other words, while the film was going on, we all had to listen to another member of the audience commenting on the film, how comfortable their seat was, their partner's new clothes or what they had had for dinner, as if they were in their own sitting room watching the flaming telly! And this despite several people shushing them at regular intervals. It got to the point where I turned round and swore at the man sitting behind me chatting obliviously with his wife, but even then he only waited ten minutes or so before starting up again.
So, cultural differences? I've been to the cinema in Germany, Australia, Japan South Korea, Canada and the US, and nowhere have I witnessed people talking out loud during a film. A lack of social etiquette in my adopted culture? An obliviousness to others' space and even presence? It certainly fits with other complaints I've made in this column about people not respecting your space, bumping into you or passing through doorways as if they're the only person there. My conclusion has to be that there are some things about living in another culture that you can adapt to, but some you can't… and people talking during a film in the cinema when you've paid a fortune to sit there might just be one of the latter.