Okay, here are two things I have done at least several times in my life:
1) Liked things generally said to suck.
2) Made fun of others for liking things generally said to suck.
Let’s be realistic: I’ll probably never fully stop doing either of the above two things. I’m gonna venture to say most people I know never will either. Granted, I genuinely like a lot of things I’m “supposed to like.” But as I heard Ashley say once, she will never like good things enough that it’ll stop her from liking bad things. (The distinction is blurry and never fully objective etc. etc. etc., just so that’s outta the way.)
When I actually stop for a second and think about it, the reactions I’ve given to “I like FORBIDDEN THING” are kinda nuts. I can become a total bitch. And I’ve had people tease me more for liking some of what I’m about to list than for barfing on a friend’s locker when I was thirteen, or making my mom do my hair in poofy top-of-head pigtails every day of sixth grade, or any number of embarrassing things I’ve done people I know can tell you about. (I’ve probably forgotten many of those things, so for comic/nostalgic value I hope they remember.)
Since I can enter elitist bitch mode pretty easily, I think I understand some of why people do it. I understand why I do it – deeply caring about whatever’s being talked about (music, books, whatever), wanting to show that I’m an informed, literate, intelligent person because I like being liked/respected and have some degree of insecurity about being liked/respected – well, that’s pretty much it. And both of these don’t necessarily apply every time; sometimes, I really do just care a lot about how people perceive said album or author or whatever. And sometimes I feel a screechy, awful little need to prove how worthy I am to be in the company of cool, intelligent people who accept me regardless.
But I’m starting to realize that some of what makes people most endearing to me are the things they enjoy/cherish/obsess over that aren’t things they’re “supposed” to like, sincerely or ironically. It’s sweet and human and honest to hear about the things that don’t end up on Facebook interests or concert T-shirts or in group conversation, the embarrassing darlings people hide on the backs of shelves and bottoms of closets.
So, in the spirit of full disclosure, here are four things I like I’ve been roundly told suck. None of these are things I like ironically; all of these I have genuinely enjoyed recently enough that I can say, present tense, I like them. I don’t like them equally and am aware of that they may be creatively/intellectually devoid horseshit. That’s okay. I’m not writing this to defend them (though I’m really tempted with #1), just say that I am a person who likes some potentially sucky things and that liking some sucky things is not the worst thing I or anybody else could do.
Usually the first thing I hear after saying I like U2 is “Bono’s a douche.” Or something close. And I almost always quantify with “mostly just 1979-87 U2,” which assuages some of the outraged. But did I see U2 in Chicago last September? Yes. Did I post one of their music videos on Facebook every day of the week I saw them? You betcha. Do I own a t-shirt on which Bono is douche-ily giving peace signs with both hands that land right on my nipples? Absolutely.
2) One Tree Hill
Just when you think you’re too old to have gotten dragged into enjoying a teen drama, along comes your best friend who tells you the soundtrack for a certain WB show includes Ryan Adams and The Fire Theft. I’ve stopped trying to convince myself that’s why I keep watching and having thoughts like if Nathan ever cheats on Haley, I will lose all faith in humanity. Also, the title is taken from a song off the album The Joshua Tree by…U2. It’s a vicious cycle.
3)Smutty historical fiction novels
I’ve never read anything by Danielle Steel, but I can’t imagine these are much better. Victorian England, Tudor England, Renaissance Italy – seriously, whatever, as long as it’s at least a few centuries before now and Duchess Marksberry of Such-And-Such gets passionately fucked by Count Kettering of No-One-Gives-A-Shit, I’m not complaining.
Good God, where do I even start. There’s the “middle-aged women touch themselves to Desert Rose” critique, the quote from America: The Book (“Like snowflakes or Sting albums, no two democracies are exactly alike, but they all tend to follow the same basic pattern”), the [every tantric sex and/or Dune joke you can think of here] – just, really, the possibilities are endless. Also, I’ve been learning “Why Should I Cry For You” on ukulele, so I can expect to be single for another four years.
Now that’s put out there, next time I roll my eyes when someone talks about how great Taylor Swift is you have material to put me in my place.