TMQ was better than usual this week, returning to the form that first drew me in years ago: good football insight mixed with humerous observations about modern life. Over the past couple of years, I’ve noticed a decline in quality of his columns with more and more space being devoted to his rants than anything actually informative (mainly because he often doesn’t due any good research before ranting; more on that below), but it’s columns like these that remind me of the reasons why I started reading in the first place.
This time around, the thing I found to be rather silly to be ranting about was the fact that, apparently, too many standing ovations are being given. Okay, fine, I understand that he was saying this during the State of the Union address, when congress will applaud anything that signifies movement — or shout out “You lie!” at any rate — but TMQ, as per usual, travels into his own personal La-La land of conspiracy theories:
Members of Congress know that when the president speaks, standing to clap is a way to get television cameras to pan off the president toward them.
More likely, those applauding are the Democrats who want to show support for Obama every chance they get. I bet you that very few Republicans were jumping out of their chairs to applaud, regardless of TV time it may have given them.
But it gets worse, as TMQ thinks that giving a standing ovation for a high school play is pure philistine behavior:
Standing ovations are supposed to acknowledge a remarkable insight or moving performance — not merely that a politician spoke, or a curtain closed. Here, theater critic Terry Teachout argues that the rising frequency of standing ovations “devalues their significance.” Once, performers dreamed of the day they would earn a standing ovation. Today, they expect standing O’s for walking across stage. And though it’s fun, as a high school kid, to see your parents standing to clap, realistically, rare is the high school musical or play that merits an ovation.
Note that this is from the same man who rails against colleges for fielding teams that display bad sportsmanship; apparently, it’s perfectly fine to not show support for your kid upon completing a high school play. Heck, I would think that in most high schools, just completing a play could be considered a moving performance.
And as for Broadway shows?
Why has the standing ovation proliferated? Your columnist thinks it’s a form of self-flattery for the audience, a way of saying, “I picked a great show.” If you pay $250 for a Broadway ticket for a musical version of “Hedda Gabler,” and the show is wretched, you leave feeling like a fool. If you leap to your feet in a standing ovation, as if you’ve just attended a work of art, you don’t feel so bad about that $250. When audiences stand to applaud, they are applauding themselves.
Again, I have to wonder if TMQ really thought this out. Most people who see something bad are going to be cheesed off, esp. if they spent a lot of money. Some will ever leave the theater. But applauding because this justifies the expense of the ticket? Sorry, that’s a leap of logic that misses the ledge and plummets to its death.
I will say that the nice thing about TMQ is that he often prints comments from readers who (often, honestly) point out how wrong he is when speaking on topics that he doesn’t know. Last week, he railed against a new hybrid car/airplane, and the fact that it only took “20 hours of training time” before one could get their pilot license. I suspected that we weren’t getting the full story, and that TMQ had likely read this in a magazine, got his hackles raised, and quickly wrote a piece bemoaning the fall of Western Civilization. Sure enough, this week, a reader pointed out TMQ’s error:
Chris Walker of Monroeville, Pa., a private pilot, writes, “Flight time minimums are much different than driving time minimums. You have to fly with a certified instructor until you show you are proficient enough to solo, after which you may make short training flights alone or with the instructor until you meet the requirements to take your checkride. The hours required are minimums, and rarely does one take and pass a checkride close to the minimums, which I bet is the opposite for driver’s license minimums. The checkride is much harder than passing a driving test. I was more competent to fly an airplane when certificated than I was to drive a car after getting my license.”
Will this temper TMQ’s apprehension? I doubt it — once he picks a side, he tends to stick with it, regardless of what evidence is presented thereafter.
Ah well, still a fun read.