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Manuel

A day at the movies...

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Make a fuss in a public space in China and you're going to end up for eternity in a 疯狂外国人 video on YouTube. Seriously.

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道艺黄帝

Crazy...this is one aspect of the culture that has been irking me...I've only gone to the movies twice this year, but I made sure both times were near the end of the screening to avoid this. My girl is a ballet dancer here in Shanghai, so I went to see one of her performances. The ballet itself wasn't too bad. The dancers were technically sound.

 

As the group of us got to our seats, the whole row behind us was filled with elementary school children. We gave each other the eye roll (why would young kids want to sit through three hours of Jane Eyre?), but then I asked them a few questions, and it turns out they were all at a ballet technical school, and they were excited to see it. I asked them if they knew what audience members should do when they are watching a performance, and they gave me what seemed to be good hopes. As the lights go down and the curtains open, the chatter and the phones start to kick in. I immediately dart back to the kids, who are either sleeping or laying back in their chairs. I look around, and it turns out its the adults who can't seem to sit still or be quiet!

 

At one point, the usher came around with his little flashlight, and had to ask a senior lady to not sit on the stairs! I talked to my girl after the performance.  This is an international ballet team, so she's had the opportunity to experience audience etiquitte all over the world. She writes it off to the fact that the cultural development just hasn't been able to keep up with the economic development. It's still new money to a lot of these middle/working class people. She says she's also noticed how the lowest priced ticket can really determine what crowd to expect, unsurprisingly. 

 

Hard to say what I'd do in your situation. Like others have said, I find it best to simply avoid having to confront these things. I might even agree with them and say it isn't my place to speak out.

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Wurstmann
53 minutes ago, 道艺黄帝 said:

I might even agree with them and say it isn't my place to speak out.

I agree. The damage the party has done to China's culture will take generations to fix (if they're even interested in that at all). A few outsiders can't change anything.

In my time there I only called out one person, who was trying to kick our dog. He just laughed and went on his way.

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陳德聰

May not be helpful to add to a chorus of people chastising you for your choice of behaviour, but honestly I'm a bit surprised you weren't arrested.

 

How I deal with people talking and generally making movie-watching less pleasant in China: accept that this is just where people are at in terms of awareness at movies in China. If regulators and movie theatres wanted to, they could very easily create social etiquette around movie watching, but they haven't so you're out of luck.

 

How I deal with people talking and generally making movie-watching less pleasant in Canada: politely ask the person to stop doing what they're doing that is disruptive, and if they don't I let them know I will be having the theatre ask them to stop and remove them if they don't comply. Sometimes I ask for a free voucher for my trouble, but usually it doesn't even get that far because there is already an established etiquette and even warnings before the movie starts that say things like please turn off your phones.

 

Something I can never imagine doing anywhere in the world: laying my hands on someone else's child except to protect them from injury.

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Manuel
On 7/25/2019 at 7:53 PM, abcdefg said:

Sounds like you are dangerously close to the breaking point. Time for a strategic retreat. Fall back and regroup. Get some med/psych help. It would be easy to wind up doing something you would forever regret. 

 

All else aside, this kind of angry, aggressive, behavior must be terribly upsetting for your wife to witness. 

You don't even know me and you are already depicting me as a psychopath in urgent need of med/psych attention. Way to god man.

 

Nobody said I acted angry or aggressive, you made that up out of nowhere. I talked to the lady in a quiet  voice so as not to annoy others in the theatre. I actually asked my wife before going down to sort things out. She actually  asked her colleagues at work what they thought, and they all agreed the woman was a moron and the kid  should not be there, but they personally wouldn't have done anything about it just to avoid things potentially getting out of hand (e.g. a heated argument).

 

Back home staff usually would take care of things, but in China staff are complete wimps when it comes to kicking people out. Chinese people usually avoid any kind of direct confrontation, that's just how it is.

 

On 7/25/2019 at 5:27 PM, Lu said:

This also stood out to me in your first post: you physically picked up a child and told her and her mother to leave, because you were not afraid that the woman would hit you. I.e., you only did what you did because you perceived them as weaker than you. Again, I fully understand your irritation, but that is bullying.

 

Bully (v): Seek to harm, intimidate, or coerce (someone perceived as vulnerable). "Bullying" has negative connotations because usually bullies seek to intimidate for no no particular reason other than the fact that they enjoy harming people. The definition usually doesn't mention that. I don't derive pleasure from harming people or making people feel shitty, that's the difference. If you know neither staff nor anyone in the theatre is going to help you solve a problem that's preventing you from enjoying the film you paid to watch, and after seeing the source of the problem you establish you can fix it yourself without getting into a fight, you just do it. Trust me I look far from menacing. But of course being politically correct gets you more golden stars on forums. And in the end the price I had to pay was that I, a paying customer, couldn't watch the movie because of that idiotic woman.

 

On 7/25/2019 at 7:34 PM, roddy said:

 

Things have got deeply unhealthy when you start manhandling other people's kids

You are making it sound like I routinely go around manhandling other people's kids. it was more like gracefully picking the kid off the filthy floor and putting her outside. I play with friend's kids often (it's usually the kids that gravitate towards me) and I know how to carry a child without causing discomfort, or how a child would react if they didn't wish to be carried.

 

On 7/25/2019 at 7:34 PM, roddy said:

Things have got deeply unhealthy when you start manhandling other people's kids and feel you have few reasons to leave your apartment. Doctor Roddy prescribes an urgent and lengthy change of scene. 

You guys are making a big deal out of it. I've ran into idiots in many places. I think the advice not to go to the cinema is probably the best solution, and the one I will use. Yes, now that I think about it, practically every time I've been to the cinema there's been at least one idiot (most notably the woman described hereto and another time the guy sitting behind me who not only was filming the movie illegally using his video camera but also was singing along to each and every song in the movie). So, no more movies. Problem solved.

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Manuel
On 7/26/2019 at 5:44 AM, 889 said:

Make a fuss in a public space in China and you're going to end up for eternity in a 疯狂外国人 video on YouTube. Seriously.

 

Yeah that's definitely one thing to watch out for and I did. When I talked to the woman I whispered to her the hole time and kept a low profile. Nobody saw us when we were 'negotiating' near the exit. Those videos usually take the victim totally out of context, because by the time the person starts filming they've already missed the first half of the story which might actually justify how things escalated.

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Manuel
On 7/27/2019 at 4:17 AM, Wurstmann said:

agree. The damage the party has done to China's culture will take generations to fix (if they're even interested in that at all). A few outsiders can't change anything.

In my time there I only called out one person, who was trying to kick our dog. He just laughed and went on his way.

True, I can't change a country of +1.2 billion. But I was hoping at least I could change that particular situation so I could watch my movie. About the guy kicking your dog, the 'goofy laughing' you described is quite common and, I've hard that card pulled on me many times in China. That usually happens when there are other people around, and they do it because it confuses passersby who won't be able to tell whether it's two people arguing or joking. Basically a way to avoid losing face.

 

On 7/27/2019 at 4:25 AM, 陳德聰 said:

May not be helpful to add to a chorus of people chastising you for your choice of behaviour, but honestly I'm a bit surprised you weren't arrested.

 

How I deal with people talking and generally making movie-watching less pleasant in China: accept that this is just where people are at in terms of awareness at movies in China. If regulators and movie theatres wanted to, they could very easily create social etiquette around movie watching, but they haven't so you're out of luck.

 

How I deal with people talking and generally making movie-watching less pleasant in Canada: politely ask the person to stop doing what they're doing that is disruptive, and if they don't I let them know I will be having the theatre ask them to stop and remove them if they don't comply. Sometimes I ask for a free voucher for my trouble, but usually it doesn't even get that far because there is already an established etiquette and even warnings before the movie starts that say things like please turn off your phones.

 

Something I can never imagine doing anywhere in the world: laying my hands on someone else's child except to protect them from injury.

Dude have you lived in China? Arrested? For what? How you deal with annoying people in Canada is of no consequence to this discussion. That's how we all deal with this back home, where it works because there is a system, unwritten or otherwise, in place.

 

Regarding 'laying my hands on someone else's kids', again, you guys are making a huge deal out of it. Political correctness all over again. "He touched the kid, so that automatically negates reason and makes him a horrible person for the remainder of the discussion or maybe even for life.' It's not like that. Things escalate gradually. It's  not like I went down and the first thing I did, no discussion, was grab a kid and forcefully draged them out of the theatre. The kid was sitting on the floor between the wall and on of the two leaves of the door which by the way is a dangerous spot for a child to be playing in should anyone push the door from outside. But it'd be to much to ask for that woman to see that. Like I said, the kid didn't seemed bothered at all and I told her before I picked her up that I was putting her outside. She didn't offer any resistance and looked excited that someone was finally paying attention to her.

 

But I came here for advice and advice I got, and I'm grateful for that. I admit that that it's always better not to lay one's hands on other people's kids, and I will bear that in mind next time. This is the first time I've done a thing like this. I didn't have anything against the kid being noisy because kids are kids, and that's what kids do when they are bored. In this case it was clearly the adult's fault. I'm not proud of it, and I will make sure it never happens again.

 

In hindsight, the reason I took the kid outside was just so that the woman would follow me, as otherwise she was clearly not willing to make concessions. Had she had a shopping bag full of groceries on the floor, unattended, I would have grabbed the bag and walked outside, and she would have followed me just the same. It's unfortunate that the instrument of coercion available to me at at that time was the girl.

 

The worst part of it all is that, neither that woman nor the cinema staff, nor anyone else who might have seen me, will have learnt anything from this. But at least I have learnt to be more careful and gauge my impulse. I think that's the take-home message. I will add thought that it did feel good that justice was made, despite the admittedly unorthodox means.

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Lu
2 hours ago, Manuel said:

I think the advice not to go to the cinema is probably the best solution, and the one I will use.

Glad to hear that.

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Dawei3

The advice I've been given is that if there is a conflict, assume Chinese will side against you, regardless of the behavior of the person who you have a conflict with.  Obviously, this wouldn't always be true, but the advice was enough for me to avoid conflict.  E.g., If someone cuts in front of me in line, I try not to let it bother me.  I couldn't imagine doing this at a movie.  

 

Years ago at the Shanghai Worlds Fair, many people would try to push by in line.  I had few small hard plastic foldable stools in my backpack (so we could sit during long waits).  It was really funny:  people would try to push by me until  they came against the hard plastic and recoiled.  They looked at me with the strangest look of surprise.  It was almost like they felt I was being unfair (like they were thinking "I'm trying to push by you and you put something hard in your backpack, that's not fair!"  哈哈).  It happened many times.  Notably, all stopped trying to get by once they came in contact with my accidental 插队 defense.  

 

Now I find that wheeled luggage works well in many situations.

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mackie1402
17 hours ago, Manuel said:

Regarding 'laying my hands on someone else's kids', again, you guys are making a huge deal out of it. Political correctness all over again. "He touched the kid, so that automatically negates reason and makes him a horrible person for the remainder of the discussion or maybe even for life.'

 

If someone pushed your wife out of the entrance, then physically picked her up to carry her out of the entrance, how would you react? It doesn't matter what people did or didn't do first, you deal with it the appropriate way. 

 

But yeah, take a break from China for a while. A come into contact with an abundance of foreigners living in China who always complain about what living here is like, and well, I really don't understand why these people live in China. Yeah, there are differences, but it doesn't mean our home countries are perfect either. 

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Lu
10 hours ago, Dawei3 said:

E.g., If someone cuts in front of me in line, I try not to let it bother me.

I generally agree with your attitude, but when someone cuts in line I've had some good results with looking them in the eye and telling them that there is a line and it starts over there. People often actually got into the line. (If they ignore me or cut in regardless I just stew quietly.)

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imron
12 hours ago, Dawei3 said:

people would try to push by me until  they came against the hard plastic and recoiled.  They looked at me with the strangest look of surprise.  I

A modern day 软猬甲  :mrgreen:

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