Have you ever gotten to the end of a really good book and not really known what to do? You've got all these great emotions swirling through you, and no one else around you typically knows what you've just been through, so you can't share or truly express how you're feeling. I've been known, on these occasions, to clutch the book to my chest in a one-sided hug (yes, it's a tad dorky), perhaps reread the last paragraph or so, and generally sigh a lot in happiness. If it's really been a really good book, I'll go through a temporary depression brought on by the loss of the great characters and no longer being immersed in the world. I consider all these to be the side-effects of a really great novel, and I relish them in their own way.
I have, however, never applauded at the end of a good novel.
Which brings me to the point of this post: Cody and I recently saw the newest Star Trek film. It's the first Star Trek film I've ever seen (I naively thought it was the first movie ever made of the TV series; fortunately I kept my mouth closed around our friends, who had been to see all the previous ST films, and no one but Cody—and now all you—knew of my ignorance). I thought it was very well done.
It didn't fall into the Marvel movie trap of trying to give too much emotional depth to characters and films where the audience is merely looking for some really great action (ahem, X-Men Origins: Wolverine). But it didn't lack for emotional range (like my beloved Shoot 'Em Up, which was never promoted as anything but a raw action film to begin with). I really liked the story arcs for the main characters and the secondary characters in Star Trek, I liked all the CG stuff (space was silent, as space truly is), I even noticed and liked the musical score (something I'm usually oblivious to).
In fact (yes, here's the point), I would have applauded at the end of the film, while the lights in the theater were coming up and the first credits were starting to roll. I got caught up in the world, fully immersed for that two hours and six minutes. I cared about what happened to the characters on the screen.
Cody, however, thinks applauding in a theater is silly. "The actors can't hear you," is his reasoning. I think that the applause isn't for the actors. They have their checks and interviews and critical acclaim and fan mail from which to judge the audience's approval ratings. The applause is more for the collective shared moment of all the people in that packed theater. A release of sorts, and an acknowledgement that we all went on the same emotional ride and came out feeling better for it.
Am I being too dramatic about this? Is applauding in a theater pointless and stupid? Or is it a personal acknowledgement of something praise-worthy and enjoyable?