So, I was going to do another one of Chucky Wendig’s Flash Fiction challenges, but after my rolls for this particular challenge would have had me writing a Monster Erotica story set in the Center of the Earth with elements of Abduction, Bad Dreams and the Loss of Innocence, I decided to skip that horribly-doomed-to-be-creepy-as-fuck story and do something else.
What else, you ask? I had no idea…
So I bummed around the net for awhile until my digital wanderlust found me at one of my favorite music blogs, MusicSnobbery.com. I like this place because it keeps me up to date on what little good music there is in the world, without the effort of constant concert attendance on my part. But while there, it sparked something that’s bothered me for a long time…
I’m not overly fond of hipsters.
And I’m not talking about the bullshit “hipster” culture of girl pants, chucks and non-prescription, thick-rimmed glasses that’s usurped the hipster title. You can wear as much mousse and guyliner as you want, buddy. I care not.
I’m talking about the classic hipsters. The snobs. The I’m-better-than-you-because-I-have-more-free-time-to-obsess-over-shit-that-ultimately-doesn’t-matter assholes. And they exist everywhere, not just in music.
Movies have them. Video games have them. Hell, you go on the tech forums and you’ll find people griping over what text editor a “real” programmer is supposed to use.
And don’t get me wrong. As this post proves, I’m a huge snob myself. And not only am I a hipster, I’m the worst kind.
I don’t like the way other hipsters work. I don’t like the way they think. I don’t like the way they be hipsters.
There’s too little thought put into their obsession over what’s “cool” and what’s “mainstream commercial shit.” And that’s one of the reasons why they suck at being hipsters. Because they immediately forsake anything that gets the slightest bit of fame. Or they focus too much on shit that doesn’t matter, like the artist’s personal lives.
Who gives a fuck if Lana Del Rey’s papa was a millionaire and she presents herself like a purposeless floozy. No one makes music like her and it’s a damn breath of fresh air that she does. Now if you don’t like her music, that’s a 100% okie-fuckin-dokie point of view. But if you don’t like her music because you don’t like her then you lack conviction. I mean, most musical greats are equally or greater pieces of shit than the pieces of shit you despise.
Now back to my point… which is there are three elements that have to be introduced and cemented into the fundamental philosophies for the practices of criticism and hipsterism in order to make these very fun but ultimately unimportant past times more respectable than they should be (ignoring the fact that they currently are for all the wrong reasons[I’ll talk about that later if anyone cares to ask]).
Take note that these are ideals to strive for and not necessarily an A-B-C checklist of actions that can be met uniformly. That said, here we are:
1. Objectivity. Who the artist is or what they’ve produced in the past should, in no way, effect your critique and if it does then you’re either not trying hard enough or you have no business critiquing the work in the first place. How people can tear down and belittle Micheal Jackson’s early career due to his creepy ass actions in later life when people are still willing throw Oscars at Roman Polanski’s pedophillic ass is beyond me. That’s not to say he didn’t deserve those Oscars, either. I mean, The Pianist was a fucking amazing flick. My problem is with people’s lack of consistency. SEGUE!!!
2. Consistency. If you like something because Piece A fucking rules despite the fact that Piece B sucks ass, well then fine+dandy=that. But if you dislike something else because Piece B sucks ass even though Piece A fucking rules, then you don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about. And if that example confused you, good, because it should. It doesn’t make a god-damned bit of sense, but it happens all the time and each and every one of us is guilty.
Here’s an illustrating example: Roger Ebert (the only movie critic I respect enough to actually read reviews by) gave the movie Push 1 and 1/2 stars because he couldn’t understand why anyone was doing what they were doing, which I believe is due to the premise being given once and never being referenced to again. Fair enough. But in his 4 star review of James Cameron’s Avatar (a movie that suffers the exact, same pitfall) he basically says, “Fuck plot, this movie’s beautiful!” In fact (and this is worse) he praises the plot without giving it the same level of scrutiny he does with other less sensational movies.
Now, with all of this said, can those two rules be followed perfectly? No. Not by us mere mortals. Well, that is to say, not completely. Not without a tool to assist the process and that would be our third element.
3. Honesty. Pure unadulterated honesty. And I don’t mean with other people. You have to be honest to yourself and that means separating the things you like or dislike from the things that you think are good or not good. You have to be willing to give props to the things you loathe and tear down the things you love. I’m going to use myself for the examples this time. I love the TV series Buffy: The Vampire Slayer but some episodes are fucking garbage. I hated the movie In Time, but it had some of the most amazing cinematography I’ve seen in a long time. Some examples that are more to the point would be: I love the Fast and the Furious series of movies. All of them. And they are fucking terrible. Also, American Beauty is an excellently crafted film in every aspect from the script to the acting to the self-aware melodrama it contains. And I can’t fucking stand that movie. I love 80 pop. Hell, I love some N*Sync and J-Pop songs even though they’re devoid of musical skill. And on the flip side of that, I hate Dream Theater despite the fact that they’re some of the most talented and skillful musicians alive.
Basically, you can’t separate yourself from your gut feelings but, with effort, you can separate your gut feelings from your critiques and therefore acquire a more respectable and well-thought opinion.
Like I said, this isn’t a do or do not situation. This is a very permanent and affixed try.
But trying means caring.
If you don’t try to be objective, consistent and honest with your opinions then your opinions are ultimately arbitrary and therefore don’t matter in the slightest.
And for the three friends and family member’s that will read this, I understand that this is a whole lot of editorializing for a blog that no one’s gonna read, but I needed to get these thoughts down. So I did.
Even though they very obviously need restructuring.
El-Oh-El! Less than three! Semicolon, closed parentheses!