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Saturday, October 22, 2005


Vox Populi My Ass

I've got this thing. I don't know exactly what you'd call it. I don't know the reasons behind it. Maybe it's resentment of success. Maybe it's wariness of hype. Maybe it's some tiny little sliver of nonconformity. Whatever the reason, when something becomes immensely popular without my having been early to jump on the bandwagon, I tend to not want to buy into it.

There're a couple of examples I can site here.

One of the biggest movies of the year has been March of the Penguins. Everyone that I know who's seen it has said it heals cripples. My own wife says that this movie makes her want to undergo a series of extensive operations that will make her a penguin. It's that good. And now I have no desire to see it. I don't think it has anything to do with the fact that the Christian Right is trumpeting the movie as a wholesome film that espouses Jeezly values. I guess I just feel that I've read so goddamn much about it that I feel like I've already seen it or something. I don't know.

Maybe this is the same thing that kept me from learning how to ride a bike until I was thirty years old; "Well, if everyone says it's so fucking cool then they can just enjoy their fucking coolness without me." Okay, that's faulty. I'm pretty sure the reason I didn't learn to ride a bike until I was thirty is that I'm a huge whiny coward.

But enough about pissing one's pants.

Books, I think are another area where I just don't like to follow the crowds. I have resisted reading A Heart-Breaking Work of Staggering Genius since it was released to reviews which ranked Dave Eggers one notch below Edison and one notch above the inventor of the bendy straw on the Contribution to Society List. There's a copy of it in my house right now, in fact, that my wife picked up. Won't read it. Just like I won't read Everything Is Illuminated or anything that Oprah recommends or the Bible.

Let me make something clear, lest I lead people to the wrong conclusions. I'm not saying that, instead of reading or seeing this stuff, I'm reading Noam Chomsky or seeing nothing but Godard. Truth be told, I'm much more likely to be reading Superman and watching Cliffhanger for the thirtieth time (it's that good).

I guess I just prefer to stumble across something incredible rather than have someone rub it in my face while screeching how it's the most fantastic fucking thing ever and don't I love it. Let's face it, I love the living hell out of lasagna, but I have no desire to be strapped down and have it force-fed to me just because everyone else is eating it.

What I will do is to wait a year or so until the hype has gone away and I can experience this thing on my own without my thoughts on it being influenced by the zeitgeist. Sometimes, I'll wait longer.

For example, I just finished Laura Hillenbrand's Seabiscuit. It's fucking awesome. It's as gripping as I've heard and I loved it. So I'm not saying the crowd is always wrong.

They're just too fucking loud.

Yes, but sometimes if it wasn't for all that noise we would never get to taste it...
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