Saturday, June 19, 2010

I Like What I Like

At a certain point in my life, sometime in my mid-20's, I had read enough books, listened to enough music and seen enough movies to be able to determine, for the most part, if I was going enjoy something or not. Sure, there are always surprises. There's always a movie that looks like utter trash from the previews and ends being great or an album by someone whose previous work irked me, yet they bring it altogether on one release. But the majority of the time, I know if I'm going to hate something or whether it will make me sickish to hold in my hands.

This ability is often mistaken for snobbishness. For example, when someone emphatically tells me that I should really see the latest Sandra Bullock movie where she's in a bad dye job and playing some stereotypical Hollywood suburban woman with guts in a sappy role and I emphatically refuse because I know without seeing it that I will think it sucks - this is not snobbishness, it's called personal aesthetics. I know myself well enough to know what appeals to me. I like what I like and that's that.

This is why it amazes me when people ask questions like "I need something to listen to, what should I listen to" or the same about any of the main entertainment categories. My wish list for books, albums and movies each rank in the hundreds. I don't want to waste time on something I'll hate. But it's strange how a large number of people simply want to be told what they should or shouldn't like. I believe this is why so much bad reality TV and boring crime dramas rule the ratings chart, because it's easy and requires no thought. It's why mediocre books like Da Vinci Code or (fill in the blank Vampire title) top the bestseller list, because it must be good if everyone's reading it, right? These are the same people who buy Coldplay and Kid Rock records and wonder why they aren't more invested in music (maybe because you're listening to crap that doesn't appeal to you but is harmless enough not to upset you).

I'm all for curiosity and experimenting and pushing the edges of what I know I like in order to see if there isn't more that I like. But there's a difference between curiosity and blind ignorance. If you at all care about any of these things, at least bother to figure what you find appealing or risk being a complete drone of marketing execs who have the numbers that tell them you are too dumb to make up your own minds. Thankfully, the tanking bad movies at the summer box office may be signaling that more of us are wising up. Can books be next? Please.


  1. Good post. We typecast ourselves. I try to listen to my sons music choices to see what I might be missing and really like Counting Crows, Metallica and Foo Fighters but still just downloads Neil Young, Debbie Harry and Skip James. And don't start me on idiots who say 'I've got nothing to read / listen to.

  2. Agreed, I'm all for expanding my range and trying out things, but I expand within areas that I'm more likely to like.

    And I also am very confounded by the "nothing to read or listen to" people.