There is a pretty massive problem that runs through the general human community. It’s always been there, and I’m pretty sure that it always will be. But that doesn’t mean that something can’t be said about it. Considering that I’ve been stewing about this particular issue for a few weeks now, and it just keeps whirling faster and faster in my mind, I feel like that time is now.
Everybody who is alive has an opinion. Which is fine. You’re allowed to like what you like and hate what you hate. There’s really nothing concrete that can be used to forecast what a person will be drawn to or steer away from. No complex algorithm can predict 100% of the time which direction a person is going to veer. Just because you’re attracted to one thing does not mean that all things similar are going to be to your liking.
There are people who think that Joss Whedon is God and can do no wrong. There are just as many people who enjoy a few of the things that he’s done but by no means do they like all of them. Fans of Firefly do not automatically have to be fans of Dollhouse. I know somebody who likes none of the movies Guy Ritchie has done except for Sherlock Holmes.
And you know what? It’s okay to not like things.
This is a concept that is hard to grasp for some. I don’t know why.
Like does not always equal good and dislike does not always equal bad. It’s a personal opinion. What you enjoy and what you do not. There’s this stance that a lot of people take that if you don’t like what they like, then you’re going to burn in eternal hellfire.
I get a very strong reaction from about 99.9% of people who find out that I don’t like Doctor Who or Torchwood. I understand that this is a very popular thing right now. I can accept that I travel in circles of people who have very similar tastes and that nearly all of them are Whovians. What I cannot abide and do not like is that very few of those people have said to me “that’s okay, it’s not for everybody” once I utter the most forbidden of phrases “Not really a Who fan, sorry”. There’s no reason for hostility. I’m not saying that Doctor Who is a bad show. I’m saying that there’s not anything in Doctor Who that has grasped my attention to the point that I had to continue watching. I’m not personally insulting your mother, or any other member of your family, and I’m not saying that you’re any less of a person because it’s something that you enjoy.
On the other side of the coin is the problem of things that people dislike. I am very careful to say things like I didn’t like it, I couldn’t get into it, or it wasn’t to my tastes for most things. Because that’s the truth of the matter. These things are more than likely not actually bad, I just didn’t connect with them. Most, however, do not take the time to consider that point of view. Most are more than willing to state “Ugh, that was SO BAD” or “What an awful ___” even going so far as “I can’t believe you like that, it’s so bad”.
Now, see, that is personal, and it is insulting.
I don’t think that everybody needs to have the same opinions on things. That would make the world a really boring place. I do think that people need to learn to respect the opinions of others, and not jump down the throats of those that might disagree. Or insult those things that people around them like. You don’t like Star Wars? That’s fine. I like Star Wars. I like Star Wars so much that I have Star Wars tattoos. It’s pretty funny to watch people frantically backpedal when they attempt to talk shit about Star Wars to or around me and then realize who they’re talking to. Now, I don’t care if you don’t like Star Wars. I’m not going to get mad at you for that. Your opinion is not going to change mine. I am quite open to debates about it, I can tell you my side of things and you can tell me yours. You might even discover that I agree with you on some points, and you might be interested to learn that I like Star Wars despite certain things. But don’t insult me.
There are very few things in the world that line up with the I don’t like it/it’s actually really bad combination. Off the top of my head I can think of just a couple examples. The Watchmen: The End Is Nigh video game is one. There are very few games which I won’t play to the end. Curiosity has me wanting to know how the story unfolds, what the end is. Barring that? Determination sets in and I will power through it. This game though, this game had nothing going for it. And you know what? Every single person I have talked to feels the same way about it. A lot of people that I know didn’t even play it long enough to get the first achievement. The funny thing is that going through various rating sites, I’ve seen that there are reviews with high numbers scores that just talk about how repetitive and boring the game is. Proving, I guess, that sometimes people will overlook a lot of problems in the face of a sprinkling of good. Another example would be The Manitou. A movie so bad, it can’t even be made fun of. I recently watched this in a theater filled with people who had been riffing on movies all night long. When it got to this one, about the only thing that could constantly be heard was the call for the credits to roll.
These are two things that I would gladly say “That was a giant stinking ball of shit” and not feel the least bit bad about it.
There have been some things that I have stated on this vehicle for geekery of mine are bad. The Cowbows & Aliens graphic novel, for one. But I can admit that I went into that the opposite way that most did. I saw the movie first. I liked the movie a lot. When I read the graphic novel, it did not hold up for me. Conversely, many people who read it first did not like the movie. Which is something that I can understand. So while I detested the graphic novel and wrote a whole diatribe here on how bad it was, it’s a matter of opinion and not fact. I know this. And I don’t unleash the same volcano of negative words on a day to day basis when confronted by people who liked it. I revert to the simple and un-insulting “I didn’t particularly enjoy it”.
This is not passiveness, by the way. Refraining from being a dickbag is not the same as rolling over and letting people walk all over you. It’s allowing for the fact that not everybody has the same brain. It’s accepting that if everything was uniform and all people had the same tastes that life would be a monumentally dreary trudge. You don’t have to agree with everyone on everything. You don’t even have to agree with your friends on everything. In fact, you can be friends with people that have mostly differing opinions than yours. It works. That’s how you learn new things. That’s how you expand your horizons and become a more complex and interesting person.
It takes more character to disagree with those around you than it does to surround yourself with minds that share every opinion you have. And it shows true intelligence to understand that not everybody has to think the way you do.