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Flashes of Rage or Why I Think About Murdering the Audience Sometimes

I have a lot of pet peeves.

People who interrupt. The word ‘normalcy’. Duct tape.

But there’s one pet peeve that is special. This particular annoyance, so innocuous in its execution, has a way of getting under my skin and making everything go red like few things do. That pet peeve?

flashFlashes. Camera flashes. Specifically, camera flashes during a show. Super specifically, camera flashes during a show that I’m lighting.

That’s right, they piss me off. But that’s not quite a strong enough sentiment to describe how they make me feel. Pissed off is what I felt when McDonald’s discontinued their Jalapeno Double. Pissed off is what I feel when expensive produce goes bad before I get to eat it. What I feel when I see a flash during a show is homicidal. I just want to get up from behind my console, find the offender, and bash their stupid skull in using their own phone. That’s how angry camera flashes make me.

I mean, y’all know that flashes during a performance are distracting as fuck, right? That’s why band after band and company after company makes a little announcement before the show and says no flash photography, right? So we can all establish that this is a well known fact that we are all aware of, right? Flashes are distracting.

The thing is, flashes are monumentally more distracting for me, the lighting designer, than they are for the average human being. I’m incredibly sensitive to light, and the slightest change and shift in light attracts my attention. (Especially because a change in light that I didn’t instigate has the potential to be mean that something’s going wrong in my world.) So a sudden flash of light, even if it’s coming out of the back of some asshole’s phone, steals my focus away from where it should be: the stage.

But that’s not the total reason I’m infuriated when a flash goes off in the middle of a show. No, the reason it pisses me right the fuck off is because it means that the offender refused to stop and think for even a second about what purpose a flash serves and whether it will serve that purpose in the present situation. Let’s think about this for a second, what does a flash do? A flash lights up a subject when there isn’t enough naturally ambient light so that your picture doesn’t turn out too dark. At any given time I am pointing about 40,000 watts of rig at that stage, I can guaren-fucking-tee that the tiny fucking flash on your stupid fucking iPhone isn’t going to brighten my stage. Unless, of course, you’re the jackass who takes a picture of the dimly lit stage right as the band walks on, and then all you’re doing is ruining the look I’ve so carefully put together to make your favorite rock star look like the music god that you remember instead of the decrepit corpse that he is today. So yeah, thanks asshat in the first row, thanks for ruining the illusion for everyone.

Most of you, on the other hand, aren’t lucky enough to be the asshat in the front row. Most of you are the douche-canoe further back, who’s stupid fucking flash won’t even reach the goddamn stage. No, your flash is doing nothing but lighting up the heads of the people in front of you, wildly distracting everyone around you (and me) in the process. So unless the objective was to take a picture of some guy’s bald spot, you don’t need your fucking flash.

Look, I’m sorry for yelling at you guys. I know you don’t mean it. You’re just really excited to see your favorite band, and you want to remember this moment forever. (Or for those of you who got blasted during the opener, tomorrow.) And you’re so excited to capture this moment of chaotic energy and excitement that you didn’t even think to check and see if your phone defaults to auto-flash. And your phone is stupid and only sees the darkness around you, so it tries to be helpful and use the flash. And neither you nor your phone meant anything malicious by it, you were just excited. I know, I get it. You didn’t mean to be an asshole, you were an accidental asshole. It’s just that flashes are so distracting…

So how about this, you guys promise to stop setting flashes off during the show, and I promise to stop wishing death by anal insertion of your phone upon (into?) you.



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