Recently, I expressed some dissatisfaction with people who enter movie discussions by simply making a rather pretentious dismissal of the film (as it is beneath them seeing it) by declaring they would rather watch (insert pretentious work here).
I was a little unfair, as I claimed all fans of Dardennes films are pretentious. This is not entirely true. There are people I respect who are fans. Lately (and by lately, I mean “on and off” for the past couple of months), I have been contemplating our tendency as people to write off things that do not interest us as inherently…well, lacking in value.
People do this a lot with just about everything. If it does not interest them, well, it must be because it is worthless. Sometimes they are aggressive about it (anti-TV people can be especially obnoxious-often proudly declaring how they do not own a TV. Great, then you do not really need to join our conversation about Lost, huh?). But sometimes it is just something casual.
Often, people have a real thought out reason for why their likes are superior. The prefer reading a book because it is more challenging than watching a movie. They prefer documentaries because they feel they learn something over watching a comedy. But the reality is, they simply like those things.
Whatever it is, we all have something we like to spend money on that we do not need, but we really like. It might be music, movies, arts and crafts, sports, reading books or playing video games. People seem to presume they like things because those things have value, rather than the truth…those things have value to you because you like them.
For example, people who would rather read a book than watch a movie might have all sorts of reasons why they believe it is better…but when you strip it down to the basics, they like sitting down and reading a book. And they are not interested in just any book. They want something that will stimulate them as a reader. They are seeking entertainment. One does not go into a book hoping it will suck.
One doesn’t buy a CD hoping it will suck.
One Doesn’t go to a movie hoping it will suck.
One doesn’t…you get the idea. They hope to be entertained. I have many friends who love reading heady philosophy books, and whether they admit it or not-they are seeking entertainment (even with philosophy/theology/history books-intellectual entertainment is still entertainment), they like how it gets their mind working. But you know what heady philosophy books do for me? Not much. Well, I get a headache, but whatever. My ack of interest, however, does not mean these things are value-less. They are very valuable…for my friends. And I get that. I respect it. I would never claim it is without value.
I find sports-especially watching them, really dull. I get nothing out of it. And yet, I have friends and family who love it. Long ago? I would have haughtily called sports something lacking value. I don’t get anything out of it. Now? I cannot do that. For one thing, who am I to decide what has inherent value for other people? Who am I to decide what is a waste of a person’s time or money? What is not of value? It’s easy for me to think something I do not enjoy is therefore not important…it’s not an attack on me. But the fact is, if you look down on what a person enjoys? You probably look down on them as well. Why is it so hard for us to see something that doesn’t interest us is not inherently lame?
Of course, this raises questions of where you draw the line? Afterall, everything I have written here could be read as “don’t criticize anything.” Yet, that’s not what I am saying. For example, a person who enjoys comedies being critical of a particular comedy film/show/comedian is a matter of taste, and I think can be a positive discussion. “______ is a waste of time/money/brain cells” on the other hand is a harsh judgment of a person who likes _______ as much as it is an endictment of ________ itself. It shuts down discussion, rather than stimulates it.