Monday, May 18, 2009

the risks of being unconventional (a rant)

The grief has ramped up lately.
"Rick does not like the new Star Trek. Why can't he just let go?"
"Rick hates American Idol. He is a wierdo."
"Rick does not drink at Starbucks. He must not understand coffee or America."
"Rick is not enamoured with 24, Lost or Heroes. He just isn't cool."
"Rick does not like Christian music. He must be going to hell."
"Rick would rather drink water than Bud Light. What is wrong with him?"
As a supervisor in CPE said to me one day, hoping to get a rise out of me, "how much energy do you put into not fitting in?" My answer surprised him. I told him, "None whatsoever. I expend most of my energy trying to fit in." In fact, I want to like all the pablum and mind numbing entertainment that Hollywood sells us. I just cannot. Seriously. I am unable.

When I find those with multiple tattoos and piercing, dressing boldly and declaring their difference with the world, I sometimes think to myself... "poser." Why? Because when I talk to them, especially those of the Christian variety, I usually find myself in the company of someone with very conventional ways of thinking (overstating to make point). They want to rebel from the pack, which I can appreciate. They want to be noticed for their differences. But, at the end of the day, they are pretty mainstream thinkers (which is fine). As for me, my brain operates so differently (I am told), that I want to blend in just a little bit.

You see, I want to be the guy enjoying Adam Sandler comedies, living in the suburbs, driving an SUV, eating whatever is thrown in front of me and drinking cheap beer. I want to be the guy listening to Hannity or Olbermann, voting for whomever I am sold, caring deeply about American Idol with my pure bred dog sitting on my lap. I want to attend First Baptist Church, sing the simplistic, overly emotional songs, while reading the Bible in the proscribed manner and buy into the myth of American Christianity and exceptionalism. I want to live happy and without thought about the consequences of my every action. I want to be Jude Law's character from I (Heart) Huckabees before his revelation. Instead I am Mark Wahlberg's fire fighter. Trust me, I don't want that. I don't want to question everything.

Or maybe I do. In fact, I am very comfortable within my skin as a contrarian that looks at life quite differently (it is all I know). I do not go out of my way to be a strange guy that sees the other side of the coin always. It is just me... and I wish people would accept people that are not inside the mainstream, especially the ones with conventional haircuts and clothing, that look like everyone else. It seems easier to accept those that LOOK different than those that THINK different (and this goes on all sides of the political/ religious and social spectrum- they are all the same).

Let me be comfortable as someone that does not just let go at Star Trek and let the inanity of the plot overshadow the wonderful characterization. Let me think John Mayer is a sellout and Coldplay rewrites the same song over and over (so does Dave Matthews). You see, I quite enjoy being someone that demands of our culture that they shoot high, whether it is food, politics, religion, beer, film, television or music. I think we should demand better than what they feed us. Why is that so bad? Why should I just accept whatever THEY are selling us?

Is it a threat to others and their deeply held feelings and beliefs that I do not agree with them? I went through this in 94-95 with Friends. The fact that I thought the show was stupid on so many levels was a threat to others that liked it. Who cares? It is just one guy's opinion.

If you like a stupid sappy show, so be it. Just don't expect me to like it because it is the cool thing and everybody likes it. If you like something I think is bad, stand up for it. Don't justify. Show me its intrinsic value for you. I don't care what your line of reasoning is. In fact, I will think highly if you can show me you have thought about it. You are thinking for yourself, which is all I want, even if you just like movies where guys and girls meet at the airport when all hope is supposedly lost (it worked for me in I Love You Man).

But let me hold onto my idea that (usually) when everybody likes it, it may appeal to the lowest common denominator. Just face it. That does not make you a bad person because you like the following (and it does not make me a freak because I do not like this stuff):

American Idol (I don't like oversinging. I like subtlety. I am not impressed by power alone)
Starbucks (Again, I like subtly. I am not impressed by strength at the expense of taste)
Walmart (never liked it, even before the labor stuff. It always stressed me out)
McDonalds (did not grow up on fast food, never been a fan of the stuff. Blame my parents)
Coldplay (one good album, many mediocre ones. It all sounds the same, like midtempo worship songs)
Lost (went there with superior X Files. Not heading down rabbit hole again)
Titanic (it made my butt hurt and I had to pee)
24 (I will gear myself up to sit down in front of the TV to be stressed out for an hour, oh, and watch people tortured)
Chili's, Applebee's and all fern bars or chains (man cannot live on chicken fingers alone)
Ron Howard flicks (see Coldplay)
Adam Sandler, Will Ferrell or (there are exceptions, usually dramas)
Dan Brown novels
Dallas Cowboys, LA Lakers, Lebron James, Michael Jordan, NY Yankees, Tiger Woods (I like a little competition and I hate extreme cockiness)
NASCAR (not a snobby southern thing though)
Dancing with the Stars, So you think you can Dance, Extreme Home Makeover, etc....
Reality Television and soap opera type dramas, most medical dramas (OK, most television)
Romantic Comedies
Hugh Jackman, Patrick Swayze, Keanu Reeves, Mel Gibson
Michael Bay
Wild at Heart or anything by Eldridge (actually pretty much anything popular that Christians read)
John Mayer, Norah Jones, James Taylor and most of the artistic pop singers

So what if I think Braveheart, Shawshank Redemption, Saving Private Ryan, Silence of the Lambs and Forrest Gump were overrated. I think that most big hits are.

By the way, there are plenty of popular things I like, including:

Sportscenter, The Daily Show, Seinfeld, MASH, fried chicken (I just don't eat it), Green Day (even if they sound like the superior Ted Leo), U2, Radiohead, The freakin Beatles, the freakin Beach Boys, the freakin Stones, Batman: The Dark Knight (the 2nd biggest film of all time), 5 Guys, In & Out Burger, Michael Jackson (the musician), Madonna, Prince, Harry Potter, Iron Man movie, Boston Celtics, Sweet tea, Google, football, baseball, basketball, The Office, Brian Williams and NBC News, 30 Rock, Judd Apatow comedies, Seth Rogan, The Shack, Pulp Fiction, Star Wars, Alfred Hitchcock, Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Slumdog Millionaire and Jesus. I could go on and on and on. See. I am just like you.

Rant... done

17 comments:

kristi said...

this is excellent.

laci said...

the spurs! don't forget the spurs!

Anonymous said...

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A Star Trek quiz...Boldly going where no quiz has gone before
By David Buckna
Special to ASSIST News Service
http://www.assistnews.net/Stories/2009/s09050064.htm
===================================
A Heavenly Enterprise

'Star Trek'
By Ann Hornaday
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, May 7, 2009
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/05/06/AR2009050603913.html?wprss=rss_print/style

Anonymous said...

Here is something you WOULD like... onenationmovie.com Saw it last week, and can't quit thinking about it.

Christian said...

Ok, I'll challenge, I don't want to just accept what you are selling!

Emotional reactivity is to be expected from people who usually interpret other people liking the same things they like as "they also like me".

Likewise, calling someone's "likes" stupid or mindless dribble is usually interpreted as being called stupid or mindless, and therefore gets a reaction. And then the next step is to interpret your dislikes as egocentric criticism. This is something you know which is why I am surprised at this rant.

You asked, "Is it a threat to others and their deeply held feelings and beliefs that I do not agree with them?". It took me awhile as your friend to realize you possessed both a critical analytical mind and a sharp tongue. It's quite the combination. You don't mean it to be personal, in fact you wanted me (and others) to present reasons we did like what you might happen to critiquing at the time. (like you mention) and I have come to appreciate this about you.

But I will ask you, isn't well worded rant really the same thing it rants against? Isn't everyone just looking for acceptance to be themselves, the freedom to think and like the things they think and like without being judged for them?

I do not think you are the only one who is uniquely contrary. The plethora of genre is evidence enough of peoples likes and dislikes. You just happen to have made voicing your dislikes and art form in order to provoke and for that you should expect some grief.

Live long and prosper!

Tom said...

I love you brother but count the "Rick", "I" and Me's in there...scary!

Rick said...

Tom,

But it is My blog posting, written by ME about ME and MY view on life and culture. Should I have written it academically? "The writer feels..." By keeping it personal and about ME, I am careful not to disparage others. That is the point.

__________________________________

Anonymous #1- Huh?
__________________________________

Anonymous #2- Thanks for the link.
_________________________________

Laci- I thought about putting the Spurs there, along with the Cardinals. But, I don't consider them popular enough, just great franchises only a select few a lucky enough to follow.
________________________________

Christian- are you throwing a bunch of psychoanalysis at me? I am impervious to such things.

You may interpret my calling people mindless when they accept mindless babble. I am not saying that. However, I am not not saying that either:)

I am ranting because I am tired of being chided for not liking what is being sold. I want people to back off since it has become ever present. To be outside the mainstream can be a wonderful place to play and live, but at times it can become tiring because of the stares and stones of the mainstreamers. I don't expect most people to understand actually.

yes I would say everyone is looking to be accepted for themselves. However, if one shares a contrary opinion, they are branded as an outsider by those wanting to be accepted for their mainstream opinion. Think of anytime you have moved away from the herd and what happened.

Luckily I have lived outside the herd since I was a child, so I can handle it. But, people need to back off and stop the insults of people that think differently (this happens in EV too).

It is a bit different from the genre stuff, even though I can see the point you are making. I would never say I am uniquely contrary. However, I think others have told me that more than most people. It is not something I sought, but it is something I have accepted about myself. I just wish others would accept it (it is only when it gets particularly mean spirited, angry, whiny or arrogant that it bothers me).

Thanks for the analysis. Do I owe you anything? (just messing)

RDF said...

KRISTI!

GET THE KIDS AND DOG AND RUN - HE'S GONNA BLOW!!!!!

Ron

P.S. Don't forget the Cards rants and conspiracy.

jen said...

Rick, I don't have time to read this... hell I'm not going to lie, I got bored halfway through. :) If I did not have the energy to make it through your rant you spent too much energy explaining how "little" energy you spend being different. And just because I'm tired is no excuse.

Rick said...

jen,

you are such a special friend.

Luckily others have found it worth reading, sharing and commenting on without getting bored. Of course, they are not as enlightened or bright as others.. or maybe they have longer attention spans (or maybe I don't bore everyone as much as I bore you).

kristi said...

folks, he is more complicated than you think. and he has feelings, despite the tough exterior and never-ending opinions. :)

jen said...

sigh...
*puts gloves back on*
*puts rotten eggs back in fridge for another day*

Man, Kristi, you know I don't pull punches for anyone but you, because I love you. :)

And Rick, yeah I do have a much lower attention span these days, but when you take a self-indulgent 1200 words to rant and I can see in the first 300 that there is only contrarian blah blah, and no self-examination/growth, that's not a rant, that's a "wah". And I know you are better than that.

g13 said...

can't we all just hate along?

thomas w said...

Kristi,

If you need help getting him in that special jacket we had made for him let me know. And until he's 'put away' safely you may want to hide all sharp objects.:)

kristi said...

hey tom, i actually encouraged him to write this one, because i thought it was a good idea for him to be vulnerable. maybe after reading some of these comments i will encourage him to go back inside his armor and be his usual self...

Anonymous said...

Where I live, people give me a hard time because I choose to drink Anheuser Busch products. Did that just blow your mind Rick? --Andy

thomas w said...

Hey, We love Rick and wouldn't want him any other way! Armor rusts anyway...and I REALLY liked the new Star Trek.