Next time you're reading something, or listening to a song, or watching whatever it is you aren't already endeared to, try writing down your thoughts. Not the ones about the last time you shaved under your arms or if you have enough cheese to make it to the end of the week, the critical ones. How ruthless are you when it comes to new entertainment? Are you looking for the positives or leverage to pull the content down beneath you? This isn't a trap. You very well could be open-minded or accepting. Better yet, imagine everyone in your life judging you in the same way you pass judgment unto others. Is that a scary thought to you or a reassuring one? If it's the former, this silly, pseudo-analytical, slightly hypocritical blog post is for you.
I get angry sometimes, because every time I check, I still have a pulse, yet I find myself stuck in David Foster Wallace's Hell. Everyone is hiding beneath seven layers of irony and eschewing potential in favor of picking the lowest hanging fruit, just to quip about how far down they had to bend in order to grasp it. We have pseudo-criticisms such as Red Letter Media constantly in pursuit of shlock and the propagandist brood of Jon Stewart's Daily Show clipping and recontextualizing news items before sidestepping any criticism sent their way, because after all, they are only comedians. It's criticism without accountability. That's to say nothing against those of us who enjoy our guilty pleasures (though the scripted pundit droogs can take their millions and piss off, considering the damage they've done to modern discourse via the snarkument style they've popularized and their bastardized narratives). I'm a huge fan of B-movies, bad songs, and think Mystery Science Theater 3000 has (or, had, I should say; I refuse to watch the latest seasons) some of the finest comedy writing in television history. At the end of the day, love them or hate them, RLM are successful filmmakers. Many people find comfort in their series and have enjoyed their original movies, which aren't much better than many of the films they lambast on their show, Best of the Worst. Rambling aside, my point is that they are putting their best foot forward and contributing something, even if that foot is wearing an ironic clown shoe.
I'm not sure when this trend (which I very well might just be imagining) began of seeing one's love seat as an authoritative throne. To acknowledge the obvious, yes, anyone can have valid criticism and everyone has the right to an opinion. We know. Some things are so abundantly clear they don't need announced, and some people are so dense they refuse to accept that until they are laid out plain and clear. My point is, if you're on the bench, you have no skin in the game. (I refer you to the analogy of the angry sports fan, beer gut and all, shouting at a famous player on the TV for missing a pass that this couch potato clearly could have caught had it been him.) I'm starting to see myself like a washed-up musician when I hear the sound of scoffing. "Where's your masterpiece? If you're so much better, where's your 'Bohemian Rhapsody?'" It's easy to laugh like you wouldn't make such a mistake when you'd never be willing to even put the effort forth. Maybe it is a diversion of my own but nobody reads my books, so, this rebuttal is never in relation to my personal works. One aside I can't allow myself to exclude is the post-modern trend of blockbuster movies not taking themselves seriously, or, if they dare invest in the stakes of its own narrative risk being branded with the modern scarlet letter of "humorless." The obvious example, as it popularized the quipping trend for modern audiences are the Marvel movies. (Once again, I'm not saying every one of these films is worthless; I enjoy a fair deal of them. I'm merely pointing to a cultural phenomenon with which they are associated.) At times, it feels as though the directors (or should I say, producers) are winking at the audience to say, "We know this is just a comic book movie. We're above it, too." They could take their storytelling more seriously but they're just too fuckin' cool. The issue with this constant quipping is that it's hard to accomplish anything if you don't try in earnest. Sometimes, to win big, you have to go all-in. I would say that Indiana Jones and Star Wars have a great deal of humor by way of quips but also know when to respect their material.
Remember way back, before I went on a schizophrenic tangent about pop culture, when I asked you to write down your thoughts on whatever you're listening to/reading/watching? Now, try making something of your own. See how much effort it takes to write a corny poem, how frustrating it can be to make a shitty movie, how many hours go into writing whatever song your friend posted on Bandcamp that you made fun of behind their back. (Hopefully that last thing hasn't actually happened to anybody.) Hard work is humbling. Behind many of your least favorite movies is a life spent loving cinema. Some of the bands you love to hate the most have gotten someone through a rough time in their lives. That book you pointed out has a typo also has sixty thousand words spelled properly. One of the best pieces of advice I heard for public speaking is that everyone in the audience wants you to succeed. They are on your side. Nobody wants to go to a bad show. Maybe every now and then you will get a heckler but to paraphrase Minor Threat, "At least [you're] fuckin' trying."
-Todd Daniel Crawford