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What’s the point in applauding after watching a movie? If it were a live performance, I can understand showing your appreciation to the performers. But when a movie is over, no one involved in the production will have any idea of your applause so it’s clearly not directly at them. The possible exception is a movie screening with cast and crew in attendance. Applause was appropriate when performances were in person, otherwise, they’re unnecessary.

So then, who is the applause for? It seems to me that people clap after movies they like to signify to the other people sitting in the theater that they collectively witnessed a triumphant film. To those people, I ask if it’s necessary to project your opinion. Do we need validation from you that it was a good movie? I wasn’t quite sure I could express my satisfaction until my personal opinion of the movie was validated. Thank you for telling me that I’m allowed to like this movie.

If the applause isn’t for the benefit of everyone else in the theater, perhaps it’s some sort of spontaneous reaction to watching something entertaining? I loved it so much that I just had to clap! I fail to believe that applause is as involuntary as laughing at a pratfall or tearing up during an emotional farewell. Perhaps people clap because they think that’s an appropriate response no matter the number in the audience. But then I ask, how many of you clap when you watch television by yourself?

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