Thou Shalt Not Laugh (at Schindler's List)
Published: 1995-02-01

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The Joe Bob Report (PO Box 2002, Dallas TX 75221, $3 for a sample copy), a newsletter dedicated to the conservation of a threatened American cultural institution, the drive-in movie theater, ran an interesting article about the high school kids in Oakland who were taken to see Schindler's List and laughed at all the wrong places.

The adults "kicked out the whole crowd of sixty students from Castlemont High School, who were there on a field trip to learn about... well... about acceptance.

"... I'd like to say there is no such thing as an inappropriate response... to a movie. In other words, the audience can't be wrong. If the audience laughs, it's funny, by definition. If the audience cries, it's sad. You can't go around yanking people out of their chairs and saying, 'You can't stay at this movie, because you don't get it!'"

"These students were watching in a group. Groups are different. Groups have an energy based on what the various members of the group are doing — not what's on the screen. All the adults that got so upset were watching the movie in isolation. The high school students were watching it together. They knew who was laughing and who wasn't. After a while, it's contagious because of things that have nothing to do with the movie."

And he adds: "I'm surprised I have to explain these things."


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Author(s): Bradley R. Smith
Title: Thou Shalt Not Laugh (at Schindler's List)
Sources: Smith's Report, no. 20, February 1995, pp. 3f.taboo
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Published: 1995-02-01
First posted on CODOH: Sept. 9, 2015, 5:58 a.m.
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