It’s a common trope on the internet to say things like, “It’s not a TV show! It’s my LIFE!” Which is totally true because right now Scandal is my life and it is a beautiful thing. We love TV here so much at CC we even have an Ultimate TV Fandom Bracket (shameless promotion, I know). Many people in my life (whom I love) and perhaps this is partially my fault, get a little mad or upset when I don’t like the same books, movies or music as them.
I am a pretty crass person so if I don’t think, let’s say, a show like the Big Bang Theory, has much substance, I’ll say, “Oh, that show is stupid.” This sounds incredibly dismissive of a show that millions of people like and it is. The amount of time, energy and thought that goes into producing any level of art makes it anything but stupid even if the result is mediocre or bland. It’s still kind of a mean thing to say to someone who has probably just confessed they love it.
I guess the reason why I am so quick to snap at something for being stupid is because I like so so so many stupid things. So when I say, that’s stupid, I think people hear that I am calling them stupid for devoting time or affection to that thing.
I can admit my own insensitivity but I’ve noticed a growing number of people my age and younger who use the pop culture around to form some kind of identity. It’s like, if you don’t understand this thing (that they didn’t even create themselves) then somehow I don’t understand or like them. That’s simply untrue. I’d never be upset at someone for not liking the musical stylings of rapper Trina just because I do. The same way I would never think someone was stupid for loving How I Met Your Mother when I don’t.
To me it just means we experience things differently and different things appeal to us. That would be all the more reason to befriend someone because you’d have a lot more interesting things to talk about since you’d be able to show each other new things or new ways of looking at them.
The same goes for things that aren’t stupid. I mean, I will never ever understand why “The Mona Lisa” is this incredible work of art but I wouldn’t think someone who does is any less intelligent just because I don’t get it. (Someone explain the Mona Lisa thing to me in the comments, please.) I don’t like looking at Picasso’s work very much but I can appreciate that the way he deconstructed the human form was both innovative and interesting at the time.
I think when we start to shape our identities, and I think we’ve all done this at one point in our life or another, I know I have, simply by the stuff that we like, we’re setting ourselves up for disappointment. Part of the function of works of art, whether that be fashion, tv, film or books, is essentially to be criticized, so if you’re defining yourself by those things you’re going to feel insulted a great deal of the time.
It’s fun to have discussions about this stuff with friends and even to be critical of them yourself but I think sometimes we need a reminder that if we define ourselves by the things that we do and say and not by the things we consume, we’ll be a lot happier. All of the great ideas floating in your head and all of those kind deeds you’ve done say a lot more about you then Hanna from Pretty Little Liars can. Pop culture is always changing but having a fixed identity, one where you are sure of who you are, is something no one can touch whereas pop culture is a cultural punching bag.
In honor of all the things I’ve been dismissive of here is a list of all the things I like. Feel free to insult them and me for liking them: Dark Angel, Nine Inch Nails, Britney Spears, Trina, Madonna, Josie And The Pussy Cats (movie), Toddlers and Tiaras, Dance Moms, Twitter, all the Leprechaun movies, Degrassi: TNG, Hemlock Grove, the word “ratchet,” cuss words, Amanda Bynes, GIFs, Zenon Girl Of The 21st Century, sneaker wedges, flatforms, mood rings, popcorn flavored Jellybeans (I am the only one who likes that flavor, Supernatural, American Horror Story, Crystal Castles, Gone Girl, Tumblr, Kanye West, Queen, David Sedaris, Jon Stewart, Robin Thicke and baby monkeys.