Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Having an Opinion on Art/Entertainment

The saying goes that everyone is a critic and this is true: Everyone, no matter who you are, has had an opinion on art or some form of entertainment. They’ve made studies out of this—people take classes and become experts in art criticism, whether it be film, literature, music, or so forth. And yet, this has done nothing to quell the group think mentality that tends to occur (or as you could also call it, “popular consensus”).

For example, it was popular for a while to declare Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series as some of the worst literature to hit the best seller list. So much so that it became an Internet meme that has yet to die—vampires don’t sparkle or “so and so is still a better love story than Twilight.” This attitude also tends to apply to things that are considered of high quality—insult Christopher Nolan’s movies on the Internet and watch his army of supporters come to defense and start a major flame war very soon. This also happens in music, popular or otherwise, or media like comic books. (Just watch the hardcore pop diva fans or rap fans or Marvel fans or DC fans or Image fans or Independent (music or comic) fans go at it.)

So what do you do when your opinion doesn’t agree with the majority? Say the newest book series in the science-fiction section is being hailed as the next great space opera or social science-fiction on the level of Phillip K. Dick or Ursula le Guin. It’s won all the awards and everyone’s telling you to read it. So you do and . . .

You’re not blown away. You think it’s full of plot holes, flat characters, poor prose, think the ending’s bad, or anything else that might ruin literature for you. But when people find out your opinion, they’re horrified. This could also apply to works of literature, music, film or art or entertainment in general that you find to be of generally poor quality. How do you tell people this?

On the flipside, sometimes there are things that most people openly mock or deride that you might enjoy. Or maybe it’s something that’s just considered the ultimate “meh,” and most people wouldn’t even think to put it on a list of favorite things. Yet when you look it over, it’s everything that you like and every time you listen, look at it, watch it, read it or experience it in general, it takes you back to that first blissful moment you found it. And even though there are flaws—of course, everything has flaws—you think there’s enough about it to justify it.

I can certainly admit to belonging to the above two categories. Some of the most acclaimed or popular works of entertainment have never really appealed to me, while some others are ones that I count among my favorites of all time, no matter how recently they were released. I don’t always like the books that critics or other bloggers champion. A lot of the films that everyone says are great are pretty dull to me. I have specific but also very broad taste, and it can be very hard for me to explain just why something in particular wins me over while something else does not.

So what do you do? How do you have an opinion? At the end of the day, you’re just one person and there are always exceptions to every rule. So even if something’s really popular or not respected, that doesn’t mean you have to agree with every else’s perspective. Just always prepare to have an honest discussion with someone who shares your interests, and maybe, just maybe, you’ll even get them to see things the way you do.

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