How Germans, Americans, and Vietnamese act in the cinema

I’m sure I’m not the only one who has gone to the cinema in foreign countries. But I think how people watch movies is a bit telling about the civility and politeness of the culture. I’d say Germans are the most polite. Americans are mild. And Vietnamese are downright hasty.

As an American, I know all too well how Americans go to the cinema. We eat our popcorn, laugh at the jokes, and generally enjoy ourselves while whispering here and there. It’s rude to chat too loud and you’ll inevitably get shooshed if you bother other people, so people are quite polite. After the movie is done, people will wait for the bloopers (if there are any) and then get up for the bathroom and go home, chatting about the movie as they go.

Vietnamese people are pretty similar. They go to the cinema, grab their popcorn and enjoy themselves throughout. But something peculiar happens just before the movie ends, people start to leave. There’s this sense that people have seen enough, they know what’s going to happen already (the good guys win), and so they get up early to beat the traffic.

Last year, I went to see the Minions movie in Berlin. After the movie finished, I was surprised to find that no one got up. In fact, everybody stayed to the very end of the credits. I heard that it’s because the Germans feel that it’s polite to the filmmakers, they sit through out of respect until the last name is listed. The creators may not know that the viewers do this but it’s these little gestures that define a culture.

I think we should all take a page out of the German’s books.

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