Day 24: You Are What You See

The other night, my beloved scored a couple of free tickets to The Barber of Seville opera and invited me to come along during the day. I was in my “my-boss-is-not-in-the-office” uniform of jeans, tank top and sneakers and ready to say no. But I remembered the last time we went out for an opera and how much I enjoyed it. I relented.

Fortunately, the time of uptight dress code has passed. I was obviously the worst female dresser there, but to my delight, I saw another man in a similar ensemble, only worse. So, I wasn’t at the bottom of the fashion barrel that time.

After finding our seats, I scanned the room casually and noticed sea of grey-haired heads sitting in the dress circle area. No surprise there. Opera is not known as the coolest thing amongst my generation.

As I flipped through the program, my eyes were locked on a profile report on opera attendees in 2009 conducted by Roy Morgan. Compared to the average Australians, they are:

  • 89% more likely to have holiday overseas in the last 12 months
  • 85% more likely to have shopped in the department stores in the last 4 months
  • More likely to be environmentalists, vegetarians and organic food consumers
  • More likely to practice yoga, dancing and winter sports
  • More likely to view non-commercial TV and attend cinema regularly
  • Far less likely to eat frozen meal, eat fast food, play video games at home, watch motor sports and pay TV.

I was amused because this profile reminded me of my husband’s grandmother. Again, no surprise there. The Metropolitan Opera reported that the average age of opera patrons in early 2000s was 60.

Obviously Roy Morgan, being one of the supporters of Melbourne Opera Company, attempts to sell the $950 full report by only giving out the positive snippets. If you look at the list above, wouldn’t you conclude that the opera patrons are more “enlightened” than the rest of us?

Intrigued by this report, I went home looking up their website hoping to discover the rest of the story without shelling out the $950. No success there. However, I unearthed a couple of older reports on how one’s weight and political preference affect their viewing habit.

In 2006, they found that obese people were more likely to watch daytime television, particularly soap operas. While Futurama was the favourite of the underweight and acceptable weight groups.

If you were a Liberal Party (which is ironically the conservative party) supporter, it’s more likely that you referred to commercial television for your news intake, garden and travel shows. On the other political spectrum, the Labor Party supporters turned to ABC for news when they’re not savouring the soap operas. This report was released in 2005.

So if you like daytime soap opera, you’re more likely to overweight, support the Labor Party, and less likely to fancy opera or go skiing??

The report is clearly intended for business entities profiling their target market.  I, on the other hand, am entertained with the idea of calling it the “commercial zodiac”. There are some people who go to an opera to be seen as if they belonged to the “enlightened” group, hence their views toward yoga, charity and motor sports are skewed to fit the group consensus. It sounds pathetic, but I believe most of us have compromised our individuality to some point in order to belong in a particular clique.

For example, I would rather scratch my eyeball than revealing my secret fondness of Australian Idol on the next Mensa poker night. The idea of watching commercial TV, … no, wait… watching TV at all seems like a heinous crime. On the other hand, citing ancient English philosophy literature would catapult my rank.

So, I’m curious. Have you faked a preference to be accepted in a group you wish to belong? Do you have a secret penchant that violates the group decree you wish no one knows?

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