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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Whatís wrong with enjoying things that are popular? (Page 1)

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Author Topic: Whatís wrong with enjoying things that are popular?
Dog Walker
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I have been a member of the hatrack community for three years now, and one thing I have noticed is that many people (but by no means all people) here have expressed their distaste for things that are popular.

They dislike music that is heard on the radio, best selling novels, and television shows and movies that get good ratings.

My question is whatís wrong with things that are popular?

My favorite authors (besides OSC) are Raymond Feist, Kurt Von., Grisham, and Stephen R. Donaldson.

I enjoy listening to famous groups like Dave Matthews, Lifehouse, John Legend, and Aerosmith.

I think scrubs and heroes are the best shows on tv.

All of these things are popular, but why does that make them lesser forms of entertainment?

Why does it seem here that good music is only made in the basement of a man that goes by the stage name Blue Steal? That the best books are the ones no one has ever read, and the only movies worth watching are on Sundance.

I have seen/read some books/movies that are not popular but are very good, but that doesnít mean that the popular books/movies are therefore bad.

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Synesthesia
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I don't think it is, as long as it moves me.
But Dir en grey is pretty darn good. They aren't super popular hear, but they rock.
I also Like John Legend a lot. He's cool. But some of the stuff they play on the radio isn't bad, it's just a bit boring to me. There's not enough lovely minor keys. Some if it's either too cheerful or too emo to me. But I found myself liking songs by bands that annoyed me at first. Like Seether and Three Days Grace. I can't STAND Staind, but they have a song with cool guitars in it.
I dislike about 80-90% of the shows on television. I think a good deal of them are drivel, but I do like House and Bones. They are good. And Everybody Hates Chris, but I hate Everybody Loves Raymond because the father in it is a wuss.

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mr_porteiro_head
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You assume that people don't like those things because they're popular.
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Puffy Treat
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Plenty of people dislike the things you name for reasons other than snobbery. [Smile]
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Dog Walker
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For some people yes that is the case.

I have a friend that said he only enjoys music without rhythm or something, i forget what the genre is called, but the other day i borrowed his ipod and saw Dave Matthews and even Justin Timberlake on it.

I do believe some people pretend or actually do hate things because they are popular. I also believe some people say they like things that are not popular to be different.

I wish people would not be fake and enjoy whatever it is they like, or at least not act like anyone is inferior to them for actually enjoying something that is popular.

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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
For some people yes that is the case.
Do you think that we are such people?
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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by Dog Walker:

I wish people would not be fake and enjoy whatever it is they like, or at least not act like anyone is inferior to them for actually enjoying something that is popular.

Why is it "unreal" to feel that the marketing pressure surrounding popular (often mediocre) art is against one's own artistic or moral grain? This would be like asking someone to love a book written by someone they hated as a child. You still remember where something is coming from, no matter how it appeals to you in more visceral ways. If something is coming from a cultural phenomenon, such as heavy advertising and corporate marketing, and you don't like that trend, then it stands to reason you are allowed to have something against the product itself.

As a for instance: Say I wrote a computer program to analyze the great works of English and American poetry, then I used my knowledge to create a program which would construct the most appealing poem ever written. Or I might create a product I was not proud of and then created a machine which would tell me exactly how to make this product appeal to people. Suppose I did this with the sole intention of making money, and had no personal investment in the integrity of my art or the moral consequences of introducing a piece of art which will affect people's opinions and tastes for better or for worse.

I don't think you would like that idea, although the piece of art it created might appeal to you. It would still be manipulative, and imo, I think it would be wrong to do.

I am not suggesting that all works of art which achieve popularity are designed with poor intentions- I like some things that happen to be popular. But on the other hand, I completely understand, and encourage skepticism and self-examination when it comes to our reactions to works of art. We should remain aware of the intent and validity of artworks of any kind.

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Mucus
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Reminds me of this bit from the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy:

quote:
Lallafa was an ancient poet who lived in the forests of the Long Lands of Effa. His home inspired him to write a poetic opus known as The Songs of the Long Land on pages made of dried habra leaves. His poems were discovered years after Lallafa's death, and news of them quickly spread. For centuries, the poems gave inspiration and illumination to many who would otherwise be much more unhappy, and for this they are usually considered around the Galaxy to be the greatest poetic works in existence. This is remarkable because Lallafa wrote his poems without the aid of education or correction fluid.

The latter fact attracted the attention of some correction fluid manufacturers from the Mancunian nebula. The manufacturers worked out that if they could get Lallafa to use their fluids in a variety of leafy colours in the course of his work, their companies would be as successful as the poems themselves. And so, they traveled back in time and beat Lallafa until he went along with their plan. The plan succeeded, Lallafa became extremely rich, and spent so much time on chat shows that he never got around to actually writing The Songs. This was solved by each week, in the past, giving Lallafa a copy of his poems, from the present, and having him write his poems again for the first time. But on the condition that he make the odd mistake and use the correction fluid.

Afterwards, there is a bit on whether or not the "new" Songs were as valid as the "old ones."

Back to your regularly scheduled conversation [Smile]

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Lyrhawn
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I think most people here probably like Kurt Vonnegut if they've read him. Just a guess though.

I like all four of the music groups you listed. I have more Dave Matthews Music than I'm betting any one on this board, heck, maybe in the state of Michigan. I'm a HUGE fan. I just wish he'd release a lot of his newer material on a studio release, I have a dozen or more songs he's played live in the last two years, but most people haven't heard them. I'm less of an Aerosmith fan, just not my cup of tea, but I like John Legend, he has a nice sound. I think Corine Bailey Ray complements his sound well, I wish I could have seen them together in concert when they were here. Lifehouse is good too. There's plenty of stuff on the radio that I like, and plenty that I hate, to me it all depends on how it sounds, not how popular it is. Though I'll say taht I loved the song "Hey There Delilah" when it first came out, and now I'm close to not being able to stand it, it's just way overplayed. I love a lot of the current rock scene though, like Three Days Grace, Linkin Park, Breaking Benjamin, Finger Eleven and some of Seether. It's right up my alley.

Scrubs and Heroes are two of my favorite shows as well, along with BSG, Stargate Atlantis, and Psych.

To be perfectly honest, I don't think Dog Walker is way off base on culture in general. I couldn't say whether or not Hatrack leans that way or not, but I think it's certainly an element of counter-culture in American society. I think we're almost at the point though where liking the thing that isn't popular is making THAT thing just as popular. Sort of like anarchists all banding together to protest.

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String
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In my experience if someone will go out of their way to tell you that what you like is just commercial garbage, they are pretty insecure. Maybe they want to be looked at as elite or more knowledgeable about something than your average consumer, I don't know.

Sometimes if it is hard to find other people that share your taste in music or T.V. or whatever, It can be pretty easy to resent people for liking what you genuinely feel is total crap. But, to each his own. I love hooty and the blowfish, and I think they were popular as all get out, formulaic, shallow, and damn easy to sing along too. I love 'em. On the other side, I can't stand Nickelback. Got a ton of friends who love 'em. I realized a long time ago though, that if I try to convince them that it is all contrived crap, they are going to think I am an elitist jerk. So, I guess the moral of my rambling is (sorry got bronchitis and am on a lot of cold medicine right now) Some people out there need to let other people have their own taste in music. That's why it's called taste. Most people I talk to is going to want to listen to Battle-Lore ( a power metal group that does LOTR based songs), so I won't push it on 'em.

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TL
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For the record, whenever I say I hate something that is mainstream, there is nothing fake about it. My hatred for the things other people enjoy is as molten and also as real as the reality of molten rock. Furthermore, if you enjoy those things which are mainstream, I feel sorry for you. Because you are missing out on that which is truly beneath the stream. Also you are not as sophisticated as I am or as smart as I am. For it is only after having mined the stream using a pick and sometimes dynamite that I was able to unearth the things which I enjoy. I pity you. You -- you who are content with drinking the water of the stream. People pee in that water. I saw what was there and I rejected it.
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rollainm
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[ROFL]
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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by Mucus:
Reminds me of this bit from the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy:


That's what I was thinking about... minus the Douglas Adams appeal to the absurdity and ineffability of the known universe.

("we shall discover that which is ineffible, and we shall see if we cannot eff it after all" -Dirk Gently)

Edit:

Although your memory is good Mucus, it isn't perfect. I wouldn't claim that paraphrase as a quotation from Douglas Adams- it's a summery. The original passage is, iirc, even more charming.

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Launchywiggin
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I'll second Orincoro's post about the source's ability to taint the art. The intention of the artist can affect the quality of the aesthetic experience. You can have a more meaningful experience if you're familiar with many different aspects of the art, such as the creator's history and the historical context of the creation. When you just take everything at face value, you're basically not delving into that deeper aesthetic experience (with your movie/music/art)--and that's fine. But, for example, what if you found out Dave Matthews was a pedophile? Would you still say "well he's still got good music".

On another note, I've had a problem with elitism for a long time. I think it stems from an insecure identity. I used to want to identify myself with certain things (let's say, a band) because I liked being associated with them. If someone I hate decided to start liking "my" band, I'd be associated with him, too--which I don't want. He's "ruined" it for me, as far as my identity goes.

I think I've become more secure with myself to the point that I don't care who likes what I like, because I might like it for completely different reasons than they do.

I have trouble, however, accepting the "everybody's taste is relative" shpiel and "no one thing is better than anything else". I still maintain that some music/books/movies are objectively better (on the whole) than others.

*edit: to echo the answer the original question, too--there's nothing wrong with enjoying things that are popular, but in many cases, they ARE lesser forms of entertainment compared to less popular counterparts.

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MightyCow
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Sometimes I get really sick of popular things because they're so overexposed. A song has to be really good for me to still like it after hearing it on the radio 5 times a day for two weeks.
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Elmer's Glue
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Sometimes really popular things aren't any good. Just look at The Da Vinci Code.
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TL
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Okay, for real, now. Somebody has to stick up for the elitists. While it is entirely probable that some people only enjoy the underground, non-mainstream stuff because they're trying to be hipper-than-thou, there are others who honestly and legitimately enjoy those things -- and yeah, chances are: some of them really *do* know more about the subjects than you or I.

There really *are* people who only *know* the underground stuff because they keep reading and reading, or watching film after film, and they dig much deeper into the subjects that fascinate them than others typically do, and I think for such people there's a process of discovery that they find magical; and it's about internalizing an experience and it's about satisfying some kind of hunger, or searching for a kind of energy. And from this search, they have gained real knowlede.

I don't think of myself as an elitist. But yeah, I know a lot more than some do about the topics that I find interesting. And if I sit here and tell you that I love X-person-you've-never-heard-of or Y-person-you've-never-heard-of, it's not because I'm a big stupid phony with enormous insecurity issues. It's because I dug deep and found out.

See: Everyone should be reading Nadine Darling, in my opinion, and listening to Crystal Castles, and Luke Henley, and buying copies of Night Train and Cemetary Dance*, and there really *is* a huge difference between what Richard Laymon was doing and what every other modern horror/suspense writer has done. I don't read Raymond Chandler* because I'm trying to project a vintage image. I read him because it's an absolute pleasure to do so. I read Jim Thompson for the same reason. I listen to Cork as much as I listen to U2*.

My point is I enjoy things that are mainstream, as well as things which are not mainstream. I also hate a lot of mainstream stuff, and I hate a lot of "indie" "hip" "underground" "unknown" stuff. I love 'Ghostbusters' just as much as I love 'Blue Velvet'; I hate 'The Squid and the Whale' just as much as I hate 'Transformers'

I don't want to limit myself to a narrow spectrum of experiences. I know very well that just because something is popular doesn't mean it's good, and just because something is unknown doesn't mean it sucks.

*Some of these things are not obscure.

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Mucus
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quote:
Originally posted by Orincoro:
I wouldn't claim that paraphrase as a quotation from Douglas Adams- it's a summery. The original passage is, iirc, even more charming.

Whoops, I meant to link the source but I forgot. That is of course a summary from Wikipedia and the original is much better of course [Smile]
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Javert Hugo
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Despising that which is popular because it is popular is a distinguising event. Part of forming a separate identity is rejecting that which seems to form the identity of those around you.

Which means...it's a very teenager thing to do. People grow out of it. Once your identity is established, you don't take your self-definition by what's on your iPod and you can listen to whatever you want.

---

Scrubs is awesome. Heroes is not. Heroes is okay, but it isn't great and it definitely isn't worthy story-telling. It has some good moments, but the failed pacing, poor voiceovers, scattershot characterization and lack of courage on the part of the writers to commit to a story means that it is occasionally diverting but not actually quality. Sorry.

Scrubs is generally excellent.

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sylvrdragon
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I still can't understand why people are turned off by the thought of a sell-out. Why is it a bad thing to improve your standard of living?

Another matter: I despise people who say that I, or anybody, has "bad taste". It's one of the more ignorant things that I think a person can say. What you like isn't about "taste", it's about what you LIKE. On a more scientific level; it's about whatever gets the chemicals in your brain flowing. Who gives a damn what it means to anybody else? It's like an inside joke, it's only funny because of what you know. The same is true of "taste". You like it because of the connections you make when you experience it. I would even go as far as to say that people who like the same things probably like them for completely different reasons that the others might not understand!

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Lisa
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I think The Lord of the Rings is a horribly written book (trilogy, whatever). And it's not as though Tolkein couldn't write. The Hobbit was just fine. But LotR defines turgid, crappy prose.

I'll never understand its popularity, but I don't dislike it because it's popular. I loved Star Wars -- all three movies. And Steven Donaldson... phenomenal.

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pooka
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I don't watch TV, read few books, and am very picky about music. The thing is, I know I consider myself narrow and not superior -- in these respects. I mean, I used to watch only PBS and I was probably pretty insufferable. Or I'd talk about how I only read Russian Novels. But being an OSC reader has fixed that [Smile] I guess there was another time when I thought "Oh, I'll read just non-fiction." As for music, well, I guess all this comes back around to how I used to suffer OCD a bit more than I do now. I used to think there was an ideal way I had to try and be.
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Teshi
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I think it's partially due to what is popular is only a very narrow band of selection from the actual range of actually existing new art, and is by no means what is best, necessarily. This means that if you are aware of the plethora of less popular artists/writers, chances are you will have more favourites that are among the less-popular.

More popular artists tend to be less challenging in what they do. The word 'tend' is important- there is obviously a range and some people manage to combine great complexity and depth with popularity. This is not always the case- often the most popular art is a little mind-numbing for those used to juicier morsels.

This said, I agree that there is a tendency among such groups as Hatrack to skew away from the popular. Less popular artists/writers have the benefit of being attractive in their obscurity. Everyone who's been an underdog loves an underdog, and everyone likes to know about things that other people don't know about.

The same thing applies to underdog works that become popular or have popular appeal, for example the recent Lord of the Rings films and the Harry Potter series. I've definitely had people I know step away from them because of their popularity, despite the normally underdog appeal of their subject matter.

I do agree that people in general and people here do tend to bias away from popular art. I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing, though. We need people of kinds to introduce the world to things they wouldn't normally come across.

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Megan
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Turn it around. What's wrong with not enjoying things that are popular, if that's how you really feel?
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pooka
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I used to be a big Bangles fan until they went big time. I think after that I was skeptical of anything I thought might be cool.

Though I was really into the X Files.

I think a critical concept here is "jumping the shark". If I like a thing and cease to like the exact same thing because it has become popular, then it's my problem. If something I like changes in order to become more popular, then it's them.

So if someone doesn't like the LOTR movie, that's fine. If they stop liking the book because it was a popular movie, they have a problem in my view.

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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
Originally posted by Megan:
Turn it around. What's wrong with not enjoying things that are popular, if that's how you really feel?

It means you're a snob.

And you smell like poo.

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Megan
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[Cry]

Oh, yeah? Well, I heard somewhere that you're the most socially irresponsible person alive. So there!

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mr_porteiro_head
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Don't forget bigot. That's the most important part of the quote!
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advice for robots
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1st thought: I imagine the majority of people posting here at Hatrack aren't or weren't part of the popular crowd at HS. I know I wasn't. We don't have those habits or instincts, and we tend to downplay the popular because we're looking in from the outside. As we put the years between us and HS, that fascination with the popular fades more and more and we learn that our instincts have their good points, too.

2nd thought: Following whatever's popular does seem to be like being a sheep following the bellwether. It's what people do who do less reading, watching, and thinking than we do. We don't like to feel like sheep. We reserve the right to call something good when we think it's good, and bad when we think it's bad, regardless of its popularity.

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maui babe
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JH:

quote:
distinguising
[Dont Know]

I don't think that word means what you think it means.

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Tresopax
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quote:
I'll second Orincoro's post about the source's ability to taint the art. The intention of the artist can affect the quality of the aesthetic experience.
Only if you choose to allow it to do so. You certainly don't have to let the source taint the art, as evidenced by the fact that plenty of people don't. For instance, there are plenty of people who disagree with OSC's political views, but can nevertheless read Ender's Game and love it, without a second thought about its author. Once the work (whether it be music, film, or whatever) leaves the artist and enters the hands of the person experiencing the art, it becomes entirely up to that person what to do with that experience and how to interpet or approach it. The experience is what it is, but the reader or listener is not forced to allow external factors, such as who wrote it or how popular it is, to detract from that experience.

All things considered, it is better to find value in something than find no value in it. It is better to enjoy something than not enjoy it. Therein lies what is wrong with choosing to approach a work of art in a way that prevents you from finding the value in it. And that's why, in the case of those who grumble unhappily about everything popular, they mostly have themselves to blame - they are choosing to prevent themselves from appreciating that which they could appreciate simply by approaching it differently.

It is definitely possible to praise little-known great works without hating the popular works that overshadow them. And I also think it would not be correct to infer that just because someone loves "underground" art it implies they hate popular art.

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Javert Hugo
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*laugh* distinguishing

I mean, one way to distinguish yourself from the crowd is to never like what the crowd likes.

Of course, a true self-definition depends on the person and not the person's tastes, so once that is established, you're free to like whatever you want again. Even if whatever you want to like happens to be American Idol.

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The Rabbit
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Popular culture has a not altogether undeserved reputation of catering to the lowest common denominator. The result is that popular music, entertainment, novels, news, art and other media tend to be very shallow. They can be fun, funny and/or exciting but rarely contribute anything new or say anything insightful about the human condition. Of course that stereotype isn't always true. Shakespeare, for example, was very popular in his own time.

Of course that isn't always a bad thing. Sometimes I just want to read something light and fun or listen some tunes. I'm not always looking for real creativity or insight or meaning.

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GaalDornick
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quote:
many people (but by no means all people) here have expressed their distaste for things that are popular.
Can you find any specific examples? Because I'd bet that they didn't not like something that was popular because it was popular, but probably because it was crap. The Da Vinci Code is a good example. On the other hand, things that are popular that are also quality entertainment, people don't have a problem with. I think the Harry Potter series is basically unanimously loved here and that's as popular as it gets.
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Tara
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I definitely understand what the OP means. I don't know if I've ever seen it on Hatrack, but I've definitely seen it amongst my friends.

One of my friends feels the same way about American Idol and Vitamin Water. Okay, I can understand being snobbish about American Idol, but Vitamin Water?? It's nothing more than a drink! Sheesh.

P.S. I admit I feel the same way about Orlando Bloom. The first time I saw him, I loved him, but when I realized that MILLIONS of other girls ADORED him, I became sort of disenchanted. I think it has with wanted to be original and wanting to like something that not a lot of other people like.

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Dog Walker
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quote:
Originally posted by pooka:
I used to be a big Bangles fan until they went big time. I think after that I was skeptical of anything I thought might be cool.

Though I was really into the X Files.

I think a critical concept here is "jumping the shark". If I like a thing and cease to like the exact same thing because it has become popular, then it's my problem. If something I like changes in order to become more popular, then it's them.

So if someone doesn't like the LOTR movie, that's fine. If they stop liking the book because it was a popular movie, they have a problem in my view.

That is exactly what my complaint was. I'm frustrated with the whole "jumping the shark" thing. People should not base their opinions on things because of its popularity.

And not all popular novels are shallow. Speaker For the Dead was a best seller and that novel completely changed my view on why people act the way they do. John Grisham's novel, the street lawyer opened my eyes to the lives of the homeless and because of that book I have volunteered time and money to help those without a home.

And glad to see the scrubs fans. To me it has a great mix of creative humor and real issues. I love the show.

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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by sylvrdragon:
I still can't understand why people are turned off by the thought of a sell-out. Why is it a bad thing to improve your standard of living?

You are missing the point of the "sellout" rejection. Being a sellout is not defined by being one who raises his standard of living. Being a sellout is raising one's standard of living at the expense of one's artistic values. If an artist, for instance, sells a product with the motivation of making money, and to the detriment of the art itself (by commercializing it or compromising it to add appeal for the purposes of marketing), then that person is a sellout. That person is like a car company who would rather build a cheaper car and spend the rest of the money on advertising- making it up on volume. There is actually a place for this in the market, obviously, but people who make safe reliable cars that don't wear out are also perfectly justified in their contempt for that practice.


[/QB][/QUOTE]
Another matter: I despise people who say that I, or anybody, has "bad taste". It's one of the more ignorant things that I think a person can say. What you like isn't about "taste", it's about what you LIKE. On a more scientific level; it's about whatever gets the chemicals in your brain flowing. Who gives a damn what it means to anybody else? It's like an inside joke, it's only funny because of what you know. The same is true of "taste". You like it because of the connections you make when you experience it. I would even go as far as to say that people who like the same things probably like them for completely different reasons that the others might not understand! [/QB][/QUOTE]

Right. Nobody knows anything about anything. Do you read movie reviews? Do you trust the opinions of some friends concerning what kind of movies or music or games you might enjoy, while ignoring the preferences of others?

I would suggest that you recognize taste in other people, and judge accordingly. Or else, why would you buy multiple albums by the same artist? Why would you see a Coen Brother's film rather than a Michael Bay film (or vice versa)? Because you recognize that the achievements of one artist are more to your personal liking than another. You know that the future or present works of a certain filmaker will appeal to you more. You recognize a difference in taste.

If you recognize a difference, you also form opinions regarding which things you deem "bad" and which "good." These are not value judgments in the moral way, they are judgments concerning taste, concerning aesthetics. Whether you are aware of it or not, you form these opinions and you share these opinions with others. Over time, a group comes to understand those elements of art or artist communities they find to be "bad taste" and those that are good. After all, you wouldn't expect your friends to enjoy the taste rotten meat... it is understood by all that rotten meat has a bad taste. You would feel differently about a person who ate it, just as you feel differently about a person who loves a movie you despise. You would see that person in a different light, and you would judge them. You should do this- that's what propels us to establish our artistic voices, by recognizing that which is good and that which is not.

I can only assume that you haven't considered the implications of your statement, because I would be very surprised to hear from anyone that they don't make such judgements on a daily basis. It is required to keep yourself from continually dealing with things you don't enjoy. Granted it may sometimes keep you from enjoying things you might- but there is wiggle room for adventurous people. Taste is not absolute but it does exist.

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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by Tresopax:
quote:
I'll second Orincoro's post about the source's ability to taint the art. The intention of the artist can affect the quality of the aesthetic experience.
Only if you choose to allow it to do so. You certainly don't have to let the source taint the art, as evidenced by the fact that plenty of people don't. For instance, there are plenty of people who disagree with OSC's political views, but can nevertheless read Ender's Game and love it, without a second thought about its author. Once the work (whether it be music, film, or whatever) leaves the artist and enters the hands of the person experiencing the art, it becomes entirely up to that person what to do with that experience and how to interpet or approach it. The experience is what it is, but the reader or listener is not forced to allow external factors, such as who wrote it or how popular it is, to detract from that experience.

All things considered, it is better to find value in something than find no value in it. It is better to enjoy something than not enjoy it. Therein lies what is wrong with choosing to approach a work of art in a way that prevents you from finding the value in it. And that's why, in the case of those who grumble unhappily about everything popular, they mostly have themselves to blame - they are choosing to prevent themselves from appreciating that which they could appreciate simply by approaching it differently.

As to your first point, I am really concerned with the elements of "popularity," that DO have an immediate effect on aesthetic value.

I tend to think that a piece of art made for the wrong purposes will also be inherently, objectively flawed when viewed in the context in which it frames itself. For instance, a movie made by a machine to appeal to all people will appeal, but it will lack qualities which distinguish it from great works of original art.

As to your point about OSC, the fact is that many of his readers are not aware of his political feelings, and yes, many have a hard time believing that the OSC of nonfiction and he of fiction are the same mind. I am not surprised, and I think what does not appeal to me in OSC's political writing is exactly what DOES appeal to me in his fiction. We recognize in both an inflammatory element. We recognize rhetorical and narrative skill, and passion.

I think you do miss a point there. You assume that we judge the opinions of the source rather than the quality of the source. I tend to believe that the same passion that created OSC's earlier fiction is now driving his political writing... and is pretty well absent from his recent fiction. I can, in both the earlier fiction and the punditry, recognize skill and ordered thought- and I recognize the authenticity of intent from both. I think in one the intent is right, and in the other I think it is wrong.

In short, OSC's political writing does not paint him as unintelligent, but as a person I disagree with on certain issues. I would go so far as to say that it HAS turned me from his latest writings... but it is hard for me to say whether the perceived drop in quality (much commented upon here, but debated) is the reason I don't enjoy his recent works.

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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by Dog Walker:
That is exactly what my complaint was. I'm frustrated with the whole "jumping the shark" thing. People should not base their opinions on things because of its popularity.

You understand that "jumping the shark" is a reference to the episode of Happy Days in which it was revealed that Fonzie had magical powers?

"Jumping the Shark" is a phrase to describe the act of departing from the aesthetic or "reality" of the narrative that has been established over a long period. Thus, jumping the shark is a cheap betrayal of the viewer's understanding of the reality within the show, and is generally associated with marketing motives. I say "cheap" betrayal because I want to lead you away from thinking I mean "creative change." "Jumping the Shark" is associated with a lack of creativity, leading to cheap story telling. If the reality of a show changes, it doesn't necessarily jump the shark.

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sylvrdragon
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Orincoro: You are talking about two correlated but different subjects. The one that I am referring to is the judgment aspect of it. Unless you are a mind reader, you don't know WHY someone likes or dislikes something, and so to judge them based on it is ignorant. To say "I like this movie" or "I don't like this movie" is not the same as saying "You have bad taste in movies". Critique the product, not the consumer.

This is different from recommendations and critiques. Say I have a friend who recommends a book to me. Now, lets say that this person has read about ~70% of the same books that I've read, and vice versa. Since me and this person have experienced so much of the same literature, the probability that we will make similar connections on this new book are greater, and so I will tend to follow this persons recommendations more often. I wouldn't say they have "Good tastes" though, I would say they have "Similar interests".

When you're looking for helpful criticism or recommendations, you're going to tend to look in the places that have shared your opinions in the past. This does not give you the right to label another person's preferences "Good" or "Bad".

This brings me to my next point. The Critical Elite. I would suspect that the original and intended function of a critic was to "plug in" to their culture to find out what is popular, then peruse a wide selection of media in order to point the public in the direction that will most interest them. I suspect that the Elites started out that way, but eventually they let their own biases take over and judged media by their OWN standards rather than the general public's. Now that they have a following, however, it is THEM who dictate what is popular rather than the other way around. The Critical Elites are nothing more than media trend setters.

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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by sylvrdragon:

I wouldn't say they have "Good tastes" though, I would say they have "Similar interests".

Just because you wouldn't say it, doesn't mean it isn't the same thing. According to your logic, you can't trust yourself to decide that anything is good or bad. If things worked the way you say they do, we wouldn't have morality, only similarity. That isn't a world I want to live in- people can and should make judgements and act on them. The plain fact is that you are making judgements based on what YOU LIKE. You will associate what you like with being GOOD. There is no away around that, and there is no amount of equivocating- and believe me I've had this moronic debate before- that is going to make the world completely relative. Some things have depth and character, are the products of hard work and insight- they inform us on the human condition in useful ways. Other things do this less well, and some don't do it at all. There are not lessons in everything, there is not a great deal of good in some things.

quote:
When you're looking for helpful criticism or recommendations, you're going to tend to look in the places that have shared your opinions in the past. This does not give you the right to label another person's preferences "Good" or "Bad".
Again, according to your logic all things in art are above judgement, and frankly I just think that attitude is useless, and the people who spout that kind of tripe are deluding themselves.


quote:

This brings me to my next point. The Critical Elite. I would suspect that the original and intended function of a critic was to "plug in" to their culture to find out what is popular, then peruse a wide selection of media in order to point the public in the direction that will most interest them. I suspect that the Elites started out that way, but eventually they let their own biases take over and judged media by their OWN standards rather than the general public's. Now that they have a following, however, it is THEM who dictate what is popular rather than the other way around. The Critical Elites are nothing more than media trend setters.

Why then, is anything popular? Somewhere, someone, maybe each person on an individual basis, decides what suits them best. They have reasons for doing this. They form beliefs about the things that they like and they call those things "good." We don't live in this fantasy world where everyone's opinion is special and different and relevant and ok. Some people work harder, some people think more, some people are RIGHT MORE OFTEN. Those people have good taste, good sense, good instincts, maybe good character. There are people you listen to and people you don't. You don't form these opinions about people based on some kind of invisible animal magnetism: "we like the same things and are on the same wavelength." There is no wavelength, and I'm entirely sick of this new-age garbage where people pretend to be in touch with themselves and others, and yet deny the existence of their most fundamental judgments and opinions.

What you see in the opinion of that person you trust is TASTE. Taste that appeals to you, taste that you should think others will also appreciate. If you have an opinion about something, if you have judged something, then it follows that you believe that others should feel the same way. Or else why does an artist create a piece of art? So that it can become popular? And why do so many people despise that particular impulse? Because true artistic impulses are based on judgments. The artist says: I believe this is good, I will find a way to share it. I will give others the impression that I have, I will share a feeling or an opinion and hope that others agree.

Criticism, in the professional sphere, attempts to recognize the basis and background of a piece of art and share insight about it. Critics were not "originally" mean to do anything. (As if there were some original group of critics 5,000 years ago from whom all critics descend.) No, we are all critics- and the ones who make a living doing this, do so because they are more often right. And guess what, those people have often have legitimate, interesting observations and contextualized views of artworks, that help us understand them.

Your post reads as if you are not really sure what a critic is. In fact the world in which you apparently live is pleasantly lacking in all kinds of interesting debate. You espouse a total lack of progress- that is what I see in what you have said. But we disagree, and you may find that my opinion of you is wrong.... let's just prey that not too many people have that opinion, or it will become valid.

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Launchywiggin
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I'll give a hearty "Amen" to Orincoro's post. I'm tired of aesthetic relativism. Except the part about "let's just prey" [Smile] I'd rather not eat them just because they disagree with us.
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Tresopax
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quote:
we are all critics- and the ones who make a living doing this, do so because they are more often right.
It would be more accurate to say the ones who make a living doing this do so because other people want to hear what they say. That doesn't necessarily mean they are actually more right than others. You don't get paid for being right; you get paid for getting people to read what you say.

quote:
What you see in the opinion of that person you trust is TASTE.
Taste can be both good and bad. Taste is good when it allows you to appreciate things that are great. Taste is bad when it prevents you from appreciating things that are flawed. After all, we all benefit from the ability to appreciate things, and it is harmful for us to be unable to appreciate that which we could be appreciating just because it is flawed. Therefore, a wise reader or listener or viewer of art is one who cultivates the sort of taste that allows them to appreciate greatness, but avoids the sort of taste that prevents them from enjoying partially flawed things.

The problem with critics is that they typically are charged with advocating both sides of taste - showing us greatness while also highlighting flaws. That is what a good critic is supposed to do. Thus they both help and harm our ability to appreciate art, as readers or viewers or listeners.

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Mucus
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I've been sitting on the fence in this particular debate, having more questions than satisfactory answers related to this issue.

This line struck me as a bit of a jump though:
quote:
Originally posted by Orincoro:
According to your logic, you can't trust yourself to decide that anything is good or bad. If things worked the way you say they do, we wouldn't have morality, only similarity.

I think it is a bit unfair to say that because someone has a relative view of art taste that they automatically have a relative view of morality. At least, there are enough differences between the two concepts that at least some sort of case has to be made for that leap rather than just stating it.

Also of interest:
quote:
Originally posted by Orincoro:
I tend to think that a piece of art made for the wrong purposes will also be inherently, objectively flawed when viewed in the context in which it frames itself. For instance, a movie made by a machine to appeal to all people will appeal, but it will lack qualities which distinguish it from great works of original art.

I'm not sure I really buy this. For example, say you came across a story that you really enjoyed and were told that a human made it. You go ahead and make a judgment that the story is "great." Then later you found out that it was actually made by a machine programmed to make stories that appealed, does that story really become flawed "retroactively" due to that discovery? On the other hand, say you could never find out who made it, does the judgement of whether that story is "great" remain in limbo forever?

How about if a human working independently came up with the exact same story by chance? Would the latter creation be up for consideration as "great" wheras the former remains out of consideration? I dunno...

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El JT de Spang
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My only hope is that, one day, I'll be a successful enough musician to sell out.

Cha-ching!

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Launchywiggin
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I don't divorce the creator and their art. Their history, their intent, give the story more meaning than just the work of art itself. The machine-made story might be good, but it doesn't have any more potential--except once you look at the creator/programmer of the machine, who is the real artist.

Intention definitely changes the meaning for me.

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camus
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quote:
According to your logic, you can't trust yourself to decide that anything is good or bad.
Thatís not how I interpreted his post. I think you certainly can judge whether things are good or bad to you while acknowledging that others are going to feel differently and that there isnít a universally correct value of good or bad taste.

quote:
The plain fact is that you are making judgements based on what YOU LIKE. You will associate what you like with being GOOD. There is no away around that, and there is no amount of equivocating- and believe me I've had this moronic debate before- that is going to make the world completely relative.
Well, I disagree with this statement, but since the debate is moronic and youíve already had it before, then I guess you win.

quote:
Again, according to your logic all things in art are above judgement, and frankly I just think that attitude is useless, and the people who spout that kind of tripe are deluding themselves.
I think that since art can appeal to people in different ways, one specific personís reaction isnít inherently better or worse than others, just different because people donít always find the same meaning in the same things and in the same ways.

quote:
What you see in the opinion of that person you trust is TASTE. Taste that appeals to you, taste that you should think others will also appreciate. If you have an opinion about something, if you have judged something, then it follows that you believe that others should feel the same way.
No, I donít think that follows. I most certainly donít expect others to react the same way that I do to different types of art.
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Reshpeckobiggle
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I believe the "jump the shark" expression comes from an episode of Happy Days, where someone actually jumped a tank with a shark in it on his surfboard, I never saw the show, so I don't know if it had anything to do with magical powers or not. There's a website where they discuss which shows have jumped the shark and when.
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mr_porteiro_head
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It wasn't a surfboard. It was on waterskiis.
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Dan_raven
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1) It is a shame to automatically loathe something because it is popular. It is a bigger shame to automatically like something because it is popular. We are often pressured to do both by society, and one is usually a reaction to pressure from the other.

2)"Jumping the Shark" is a phrase that originated from the show Happy Days. I have not heard it in reference to Fonzi's "Special Powers" He had those for a few years before that time.

I've heard it referenced to a point in a show where the writers have run out of ideas, where the artistic quality of the show is forced and redundant, but the show continues only because it is popular and profitable.

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