Liking the "Right Things"

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 1 min read

I've devoted a lot of my online presence in recent years to talking about movies and music. I've always been passionate about these things, but my perspective on them has changed over the years.

When I was younger (like many people) I felt like I could show how good my taste was in things by proudly expressing what things I didn't like. What better way to show how good your taste is in movies than to talk about how much you didn't like that popular movie that everyone seems to be like? What better way to show that you have good taste in music than ripping on top 40 hits?

The more toxic version of this is finding people who like something you think is lame and telling them why what they like is actually bad. "Oh, you liked this thing? Here's why it's actually bad. You're welcome." The goal, I guess, is to make that person actually go, "you're right, I thought I got joy out of this, but maybe I shouldn't have."

As I've gotten older, the more I've recognized that when it comes to art especially, there's upside to enjoying something, and very little upside to disliking something. My "credibility" doesn't hang on me liking the right things. What I really want is to enjoy as many things as possible because that means I'll spend more of my time being happy.

That's not to say that I think everything is good. I go into everything wanting to enjoy myself, but sometimes I just don't, and that's okay. My movie review thread is full of films that I just didn't enjoy. Sure, it's more fun to write negative reviews, but I'm still bummed that I didn't have a good experience, and I'm jealous of people who did enjoy their time.

In short, I hope everyone feels comfortable enjoying as much art as possible, and that they don't feel like they need to dislike certain pieces of art to prove their taste is so advanced.

Quick note that there is of course art out there that is problematic because it's actively hostile to marginalized groups or was made by pretty vile people. Things get more dicy in those cases.