When I wrote last week’s post, about how it it’s okay to form opinions on things you haven’t seen yet, and even to not change those opinions in the face of opposition from people who have seen those things, many people pointed out the perilous downside to this. Which is that, just as we have all (or most of us have) been faced by an angry fan snarling out, “How can you judge it if you haven’t even seen it?”…we have also all been on the receiving end of dripping disdain wielded by someone who read about a casting rumor on io9 that shows that the movie is totally going to suck because the gay cowboy from ‘Brokeback Mountain’ is playing the Joker and there’s no point in even watching it now.
Those people are absolutely right. (The people who point out the perilous downside, not the people who refused to watch ‘The Dark Knight’ because Heath Ledger was in it.) There’s no question that fans can be obnoxious, and that any creative decision that’s daring and unconventional will attract a crowd of people not just ready but eager to jump on it with hobnailed boots before they have a chance to really judge it. The impulse to see a truly spectacular failure in progress is an old one, and there are many who will say that it resulted in a lot of brilliant stories never getting a fair shake. (Even now, ‘Heaven’s Gate’ has its defenders, and I’ve met someone who will insist that ‘Sucker Punch’ is a Brechtian masterpiece.)
We all have a responsibility not to be that fan. It is okay not to like things. It is even okay to not like things irrationally, based on little to no evidence. If you are wrong, the only thing you’re hurting is you, after all. And yes, it is okay to tell people that you’re not interested in something when it comes up in conversation (like, say, a discussion of “Things You Irrationally Dislike Based On Almost No Evidence”.) But what isn’t okay is to be aggressive. Going into a comics forum to tell everyone that you’re not even going to pick up ‘Avengers Vs. X-Men’ because it’s s obvious it’s going to suck…not cool. Sitting in on a DC panel just so you can tell everyone that ‘Flashpoint’ was the last DC comic you’re ever reading…why bother? Clearly nobody there will agree with you, because they’re all there to hear about the new comics coming out of DC, so why do you want to start an argument? It’s okay to let people disagree with you. That doesn’t mean you can’t ever say you didn’t like something, or even to have a friendly argument about the relative merits of a film/book/TV show/comic/play. It’s good to discuss things, and and even to have wildly differing opinions. The point at which you start getting upset at people for liking things you have no interest in, though, is the point at which you need to just take a step back, relax, and remember that just as nobody can make you watch ‘Green Lantern’, you don’t have to make a pre-emptive strike on their enjoyment in order to stop them from forcing it down your throat.
If for no other reason than someday, you might change your mind. And when you do, the last thing you want is for all your friends to remind you of the time you said you wouldn’t watch ‘Buffy’ because you weren’t a thirteen-year-old girl.