Laughter and Collective Awareness: The Cinema Auditorium as Public Space
In: NECSUS – European Journal of Media Studies (Autumn 2014)
This article looks at how the collective experience of laughter in the movie theater is related to the idea of the cinema as a public space. Through the non-verbal expression of laughter the audience ‘constructs’ a public space the viewers may not have been aware of to the same degree prior to the collective public expression. Moreover, the public space created through laughter allows for an expedient type of monitoring: inappropriate laughter may be exposed in front of others. With viewers who laugh approvingly about racist violence or misogynist jokes, we can easily lay bare the ethical implications.
Keywords: laughter, cinema, collective experience, Charles Taylor, Walter Benjamin