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is an act of showing displeasure for someone or something, generally an entertainer, by loudly yelling boo!
(and holding the "oo" sound) or making other noises of disparagement, such as hissing. People may make hand signs at the entertainer, such as the thumbs down sign. If spectators particularly dislike the performance they may also accompany booing by throwing objects (traditionally rotten fruit) onstage, though the objects may not be meant to physically hurt the performer.
Booing performers has a very long history, The first written record comes from ancient Greece. At the annual Festival of Dionysia in Athens, playwrights competed to determine whose tragedy was the best. When the democratic reformer Cleisthenes came to power in the 6th century B.C., audience participation came to be regarded as a civic duty. The audience applauded to show its approval and shouted and whistled to show displeasure. In ancient Rome, jeering was common at the gladiatorial games, where audience participation often determined whether a competitor lived or died.
While people have expressed displeasure publicly since ancient times, the English word boo was first used in the early 19th century to describe the lowing sound that cattle make. Later in the 19th century, the word came to be used to describe the disapproving cry of crowds. Hoot, another onomatopoeic English word, was used as early as 1225 to describe the same phenomenon. (Ancient Greek and Latin both contain words resembling boo that mean "to cry or shout aloud," though there is no known etymological connection to the modern English word.)This practice has in recent times come under criticism. The opinion is often expressed that to boo a bad performance is unkind and demonstrates a lack of sophistication. However, the counterargument goes that the combination of booing and applause help keep the quality of public performance high, by emotionally rewarding the good and punishing the bad.
- In sports, booing by fans is quite common. They may boo particularly-hated players on the opposing team, or any opposing player when there is an intense rivalry between the teams. Unsportsmanlike behavior is also booed, such as intentionally hitting home team batters in baseball or diving in association football or basketball (where it is a technical foul). Booing of referee
A referee is the person of authority, in a variety of sports, who is responsible for presiding over the game from a neutral point of view and making on the fly decisions that enforce the rules of the sport...
s or umpire
In baseball, the umpire is the person charged with officiating the game, including beginning and ending the game, enforcing the rules of the game and the grounds, making judgment calls on plays, and handling the disciplinary actions. The term is often shortened to the colloquial form ump...
s after an unpopular ruling is also common.
- A villainous character may also be booed to show a dislike of said character, rather than the acting skills of the thespian portraying him or her. Melodrama performances such as the traditional British Pantomime
Pantomime — not to be confused with a mime artist, a theatrical performer of mime—is a musical-comedy theatrical production traditionally found in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Jamaica, South Africa, India, Ireland, Gibraltar and Malta, and is mostly performed during the...
may encourage it, along with cheering at the hero/heroine.
- In the process of booing, members of the audience sometimes will throw fruit, vegetables or garbage for particularly bad or contemptible performances. In contrast, they might throw flowers for good performances.
- The throwing of cushions from 'The Top Balcony' was only curtailed by the withdrawal of the cushions.
- On The Price Is Right
The Price Is Right is an American game show which was created by Mark Goodson and Bill Todman. Contestants compete to identify the pricing of merchandise to win cash and prizes. The show is well-known for its signature line of "Come on down!" when the announcer directs newly selected contestants to...
, contestants would usually be booed by the audience for not getting the Big Wheel all the way around while spinning it in a Showcase Showdown.
- On 30 Seconds To Fame
30 Seconds To Fame is an American television series that was shown on the Fox Network from July 17, 2002 to June 26, 2003, featuring a talent show where acts could only last up to 30 seconds each, regardless of any resolution to the act...
, the audience booed any acts that were undesirable.
- Where Do Hecklers Come From? The origins of booing on Slate
Slate is a US-based English language online current affairs and culture magazine created in 1996 by former New Republic editor Michael Kinsley, initially under the ownership of Microsoft as part of MSN. On 21 December 2004 it was purchased by the Washington Post Company...