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Roger’s Rules

New Criterion Theater Critic Ejected from Theater

May 16th, 2013 - 3:36 am

I am just writing a piece about Maureen Dowd that begins with a quotation from William Hazlitt: “Those who lack delicacy hold us in their power.”  La Dowd exemplifies the melancholy truth of Hazlitt’s observations in her girly, gossipy prose that brings the cattiest of sorority nastiness to the august pages of a once-serious newspaper.  It’s the disjunction that causes the frisson: you’re expecting some sort of serious analysis or opinionating and what you get instead is this painful smart-ass calling people names and calling attention to herself like a poorly brought-up, pubescent brat who recently discovered that her sex could be deployed as a weapon as well as an excuse.

But let me leave Maureen Dowd for later on.  Now I want to remark on the wide application of Hazlitt’s principle: “Those who lack delicacy hold us in their power.” You can, I’m sure, think of plenty of examples.  Here’s one. My friend Kevin Williamson, a writer for National Review, author (most recently) of The End is Near and It’s Going to Be Awesome, and theater critic for the magazine I edit, The New Criterion, got tossed out of a theater last night.  Why? Because Hazlitt’s principle was working overtime.  Let Kevin explain:

The show was Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812, which was quite good and which I recommend. The audience, on the other hand, was horrible — talking, using their phones, and making a general nuisance of themselves. It was bad enough that I seriously considered leaving during the intermission, something I’ve not done before. The main offenders were two parties of women of a certain age, the sad sort with too much makeup and too-high heels, and insufficient attention span for following a two-hour musical. But my date spoke with the theater management during the intermission, and they apologetically assured us that the situation would be remedied.

The situation was not remedied.  On the contrary, “The lady seated to my immediate right (very close quarters on bench seating) was fairly insistent about using her phone. I asked her to turn it off. She answered: “So don’t look.” I asked her whether I had missed something during the very pointed announcements to please turn off your phones, perhaps a special exemption granted for her. She suggested that I should mind my own business.

This is where things got interesting.

So I minded my own business by utilizing my famously feline agility to deftly snatch the phone out of her hand and toss it across the room, where it would do no more damage. She slapped me and stormed away to seek managerial succor. Eventually, I was visited by a black-suited agent of order, who asked whether he might have a word.

Kevin wondered, as I would have done, whether management had come over to give him a pat on the back and congratulate him on dealing effectively with a public nuisance.  I hope you will be as shocked as I was to learn that instead, he got the boot. There is, Kevin concluded, “talk of criminal charges.” I assume, but do not know, that he means he is contemplating suing the female in question, the theater, or both. It’s been suggested to me that, on the contrary, the possible charges might be directed at Kevin.That, I suppose, is possible, but only because William Hazlitt, with his laser-like insight, saw deeply into the heart of human folly.

*****

Cross-posted at PJ Lifestyle.

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
Get a cell phone jammer. They are available although they're illegal.
Don't complain, don't say a word, just turn the thing on and watch everybody within 5-10m of you wonder why they've lost their service and then enjoy peacefully what you came for.
Works in most situations although not against all phones or providers. I haven't figured out why yet, but I will.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
We're the good guys, Roger. We don't confiscate or damage property without due process or unless someone's life is in danger. This is the kind of thing an Obama-loving union thug does. We're better than them. Sorry, I can't defend Kevin.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
You know, I'm tired of all of the "he should have asked for a refund" nonsense. I'm glad he whipped the phone across the room, the selfish b%^&*. And after she slapped him, he should have dropped her with a right cross right then and there.

I'm assuming this was in New York, where no one seems to give a crap about anyone else. Regardless, these people walk all over you, and take advantage of your while you remain humane, and nothing ever gets accomplished.

We need more Kevins and less of the pansies who have been writing on this thread.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (63)
All Comments   (63)
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I find interesting the conflict between several lines of conservative reasoning. (1) It is necessary to protect Western culture and preserve its best practices; (2) chivalry toward ladies is one of those practices; (3) same with good behavior in public; (4) and so is respect for private property; (5) and a healthy respect for human nature, with consequences for bad behavior being necessary for for civil society; (6) and the desire for people to handle things in an orderly fashion without resorting to the law or violence to resolve differences. So which of these has to be the losing principle?
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Bad boy, Kevin. Bravo, Kevin!
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
What's even harder to believe than one of the top contributors at PJM writing something in defense of a "man" who responded to an immature woman's rude behavior by physically and aggressively snatching her personal property and tossing it across the room because he couldn't watch a stupid stage act in peace, which most certainly broke it the same way that act broke a few legal statutes, is that there are even more "men" in the comments section spouting off like internet tough guys about how they would have gotten tough with the young woman, too.

Life isn't fair. Accept it and get over it. Men who physically bully women for any reason are angry cowards looking for an easy target.

I have no idea who this Kevin Williamson guy is because theater? YAWN! But please, let me be the first to stand up and say f@#k that guy.

Want more paying subscribers? Junk stupid pieces like this before it ever sees the light of day.

48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Personally, I wouldn't haven't gotten physical when at the theater.

Living in D.C. and taking advantage of their theater productions, not including Cirque du Soleil, Cavalia etc., twits like this woman are a dime a dozen, COMMON theme at all venues.

Though I'm the guy whom turns to/ behind etc., and tells them to STFU. Man, woman - I don't care. The loudmouth individuals lose ANY right to decorum when they've voluntarily ignored mine and surrounding patrons.

I did the same with those listening to their iPods too loudly on the train as well. People form all walks of life thank me for it.

1. Conjecture on your part pertaining to the phone being broken. I've done a great deal of rough & tough shenanigans and the very same phone is in my possession. Chipped, dented, scratched and cracked though much like the Seiko ad, 'My husband's not around anymore but..'

2. I'd read at 59 comments 2, TWO comments referring to physical retribution. Again you've bloated the story for your narrative.

3. Life IS fair. Though the 'Whoa is me, I must be a meek person and accept other people's shortcomings'. B S!

4. This woman, like many people from all walks of life is a self-serving turd. Though I don't agree with Mr. Williamson's actions, I wholeheartedly agree with his far too polite Imo banter before said phone toss.

3. Theater's a 'YAWN' - have you seen the supposed 'action movies' the last 20+ years? They're dreadful. It takes far more skill, depth and talent than Hollywood, Sundance, Bollywood etc.,

4. You then speak ill of internet tough guys and throw out the f---...!

Stay classy, TT.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Reminds me of the problem with people who would sneak smokes in movie theaters instead of paying more to go to the loge (you younger folks should look up the word). Clearly what we need is a small, soundproofed viewing section akin to the loge where people can pay extra and be able to phone and text to their hearts' content, bothering only one another. I really do think it's a good idea.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Your mouth should not write checks your ass can't cash.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
If the first paragraph is any indication, that piece on Maureen Dowd is gonna be freakin AWESOME! I, for one, can't wait to read it!
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Kevin has a case. Besides which I admire his writing.
I daresay management negligence combined with disturbance from and by the totally ignorant malfactor, give him solid support. First thing, go after the management !!
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Mobile phone calls and texting sesson are important. I know this, because why else would so many people engaging in the activity? Even more proof of this is that I seem them holding their big important phone conversations and texting sessions while driving. Sacrifices must be made to make good on these communications.

But I can't help but wondering two things: who's at the other end, and what are they talking about?
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
While what the young lady did was boorish, your pal committed assault when he snatched her phone and flung it across the room. He gets no sympathy from me.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
He met a rude person. Why not take out a full page in the N.Y. Times and put her picture on the side of a blimp flying over Manhattan with a Twitter alert?

I once got my camera back after a guy put a knife to my throat and plucked it out of my hands. After he was crying in the back of a squad car, I went to the apt. and watched the soccer doubleheader I'd planned all along. Never contacted a single person to tell them about it.

Toughen up dude. The world's not your living room and is full of naughty people.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Sure, though more than likely your job doesn't deal with being an author, writer nor critic nor needing to meet deadline for said critic gig.

Whether you agree with Mr. Williamson's reaction to said self-centered person or not - the guy had to provide 'something'. Writer's write.

For those saying, 'The world's a tough/ unsure...' truth be told MANY of us provide our fair share of inconsequential ramblings and personal injustices.

Whereas you/ we may feel justified in thinking you're/ were better than the likes of this incident/ reaction. Though again I have, colleagues and posters on this very sight opine a great deal more (Jmo) than some events require.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
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