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Why I hate standing ovations

While watching Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton give their historic speeches to close the democratic primary season, I was conflicted. Not because the end to their epic battle was bittersweet, or because I would rather see either one of them in the White House than McCain, but because of the crowd’s reaction: a standing ovation. Sure, it sounds reasonable. These two individuals are extraordinary. They’ve forgone sleep, traveled the entire U.S., and fought for more than a year to become a candidate for president. They deserve to see us on our feet.

What confounded me was that I can’t even count the number of times I’ve given a standing O this year. There was a talent show, a sub-par speech on campus, a retirement party, a community play, a stereotypical coffee house guitar bit, and the list goes on. I’m not trying to be stingy here. I’m just saying it doesn’t take much these days to get a crowd out of their seats.

I’m perfectly fine with hearty applause, maybe even a few shouts of jubilation for a good performance. But now, a standing ovation is the standard. It’s somehow become rude to merely slap your hands together to show support.  I’ve been trying to hold back, buck the system, and remain seated, but it’s not easy, especially when little kids are on stage. Yeah, yeah I know whatever kids do is “precious” but extraordinary? I think not. I’m really doing the kids a favor, I think. If they start getting standing Os every time they bang around on a keyboard or step up to a mic, they might get the impression they are extremely talented. I think this is how we end up with lines that stretch for miles to audition for reality shows featuring “talent.”

Sure, we all like to chuckle at the poor saps who can’t actually sing or dance or tell a joke, but when they’re up on a stage near you, I bet you’re on your feet.  It may be a small issue in the grand scheme of things, but I’d like to see standing ovations curtailed along with an end to the war in Iraq and the creation of a universal healthcare plan. We all have our dreams.

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