Shh! Public versus Private


In week 2 of BCM240, we discussed private versus public spaces, and how “moving pictures were initially a form of private viewing.” The movie cinema. It never really occurred to me how private attending the movies actually was until this lecture, and what got me thinking was this question: “What is culturally specific in our values about public and private space?” Sound! or more appropriately, silence. The amount of volume in a particular area can somewhat determine whether the atmosphere is public or private. In a movie theater, it is common sense to be quiet when entering the cinema, and you are almost always asked to turn your phone off to avoid any disruptions. The darkness, comfort and silence while awaiting for the big screen is similar to the privacy of your bedroom while sleeping. Your bedroom is your private space, when you are asleep, the lights are off, the door is shut (well, mine always is), and your family members try to tip toe around your room so they don’t wake you up.

In the UK, the Prince Charles Cinema has their own movie “ninjas.” These ninjas are disguised in dark colored morphsuits and appear randomly to “…silence the loud takers, halt the never-ending texters, and generally improvate the movie going experience.” – Kavner., L, Huffington Post, 2012.

So to answer the question from before, the volume of a particular place can be an aspect of public and private space, as well as being apart of our cultural values when it comes to the topic.


Badger, E., 2012, ‘How Smart Phones Are Turning Our Public Places Into Private Ones’ , The Atlantic Cities, accessed: 10/08/2013,

Burnham, S., 2012, ‘Private vs. Public: Space, Sharing, Trust and Design, – A Talk at Social Cities Amsterdam’, Scott Burnham, accessed: 10/08/2013,

Kaver, L.K, 2012, ‘Movie Theater ‘Ninjas’ Will Destroy Rude People, Or At Least Quiet Them Down’, Huffington Post, accessed: 06/08/2013,

McDonald, B., 2010, ‘Picture this: private space in the public sphere’, The Sydney Morning Herald, accessed: 10/08/2013,

S.,J.,D..C, ‘How to Stay Quiet During a Movie’, WikiHow, accessed: 06/08/2013,

WDRB News, 2013, ‘POLICE: Man arrested for not being quiet in Cinemark Theater’, accessed: 06/08/2013,


One thought on “Shh! Public versus Private

  1. Definitely an interesting point on volume and something I have never really thought about. But now I do, volume and space are certainly intricately linked and instilled through social etiquette, nothing worse than loud people in a place they shouldn’t be (like the cinema or level 1 of the library…)

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