At one time, a standing ovation may have meant something—but lately, you can hardly go to a Broadway show without being forced to join in one. Almost every show "ends with people jumping to their feet and beating their flippers together like captive sea lions when the zookeeper arrives with a bucket of fish," writes Ben Brantley in the New York Times. But offering that kind of appreciation every time is "like having sex with someone on the first date, whether you like the person or not, because you think it’s expected."
Why has it become such an ingrained part of Americans' theater-going experience? Tourists, according to one theory. These theater novices have shelled out a ton for a Broadway experience, and the standing ovation proves the money "wasn't wasted." Or perhaps people are just desperate to stand after all that sitting, or simply have to get up after the person in front of them does so they can see the stage. Either way, "staying seated has become the exceptional tribute," Brantley writes after experiencing one, to his delight, after a roaringly good production of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes at City Center this month. His parting plea? "Think before you stand." Click for Brantley's full argument against the standing O.