The audience is always wrong

By James Handley

Art: Katerina Belkina

The Audience is always wrong. Today’s audience is the same as any other audience. There’s a mix of doctors, lawyers, waiters and job-seekers. They watch the global production that is happening in front of their eyes, either through printed word or through a television screen. And they are completely complicit in their actions. They don’t know it, but their decisions are the actions of the global play, their prejudices and motivations, the plot of the holistic narrative.

The Audience is always wrong. I’d argue that everything we do is a form of performance in our culture. The city is the stage we are constantly playing in. We are unaware of our role within it, as both actors and audience. We observe its happenings through a lens that is a different colour to others. We can never predict what will happen but we know that media is a way of control, and people are using it to belong to narratives in society. Like a script. The world of the everyday is a world of constant miscommunication. We don’t see the world as the bureaucrat sees it, just as we don’t see it how the middle-aged city worker does. We only have the tools of empathy and experience, and they are extremely subjective.

                                                            "THE CITY IS THE STAGE WE ARE CONSTANTLY PLAYING IN"

                                                            "THE CITY IS THE STAGE WE ARE CONSTANTLY PLAYING IN"

We have seen this in a lot of cases, historically by social actress Marie Antoinette. She famously (possibly did not) said ‘Let them eat cake’ in the case of the Royal Parliament. Did she do this to annoy the citizens? No, she said it to solve the problem of a lack of bread. Her experience of the lack of bread led her to recommend cake through her empathy, but she was wrong. She failed to understand where the citizens were because she didn’t have that experience to draw from. And we see this in culture with the ‘Millennial Ruins Everything’ media trend at the moment. I can think of the contemporary ‘Let them eat cake’ being ‘Stop eating Avocado toast’. People can only put themselves in a position they understand, and they don’t understand the views of another.

The audience is always wrong. They look at the new actors in the world and feel confused and threatened by the different ways they live, either out of choice or necessity. They don’t understand us, they have given their empathy to those who they feel have had the same experiences as them. They don’t favour the new generation of actors though they too have gone through the same poverty and social pariah phase earlier in their lives. They see in grey whilst we see in blue. If the new and old looked at the same scripted articles, the different colours would highlight different words. And this is the problem with this, there is no communication for all of us to talk about our experiences and gain an understanding. If we cannot form a dialogue between the old and new, there will be conflict but no resolution. We are in a global play where we can step out of our characters and change the script, so why are we not doing so? It’s time to stop being the audience and start being the creative, the challenger of the norm.