Cinema Psycho

"You know what? You have a losing personality." – Manhattan

I’m OK, You Suck: Why People Are Allowed to Like Different Things Than You

Posted by CinemaPsycho on March 17, 2013

There seems to be a virus going around. I call it a “virus” because I think that’s the best way to describe it: it gets inside you and once you’ve got it, it’s a bitch to get rid of. It’s also contagious and potentially harmful to one’s general well-being. I call it the “I’m OK, You Suck” virus (named after the famous psychotherapy book “I’m OK, You’re OK”, if you didn’t get the reference), in which people seem to think that their taste and only their taste is valid, and no one else is allowed to have different taste than theirs. This is a virus that’s been going around for a long, long time now, and some professional critics have had it for decades and still haven’t kicked it. But it’s gone even beyond that now, to the point where people are questioning why certain genres even exist, and berating audiences for enjoying them. This is something I don’t understand, and I’m trying to figure out the mentality behind it. Where does this come from? Why can’t people just, you know… ignore things they don’t like?

I first encountered a strain of this particular virus in film school in the early 90’s, where I was informed by the film snobs that I wasn’t allowed to like movies like Die Hard. Really. That just wasn’t cool. OK, I get that John McTiernan isn’t exactly considered an auteur, and I get the whole anti-Hollywood thing. But I always figured, when Hollywood actually does something right, why not reward them for it? Nope, unacceptable. Never mind that I also liked Woody Allen, Wim Wenders and Pedro Almodovar. I just liked good movies, period, and I did not give a damn where they came from. But it seems if you like this thing, you can’t possibly like anything else. Never understood that kind of thinking. Some people never got where I was coming from. Some people came around, and we’re still friends to this day. But I never understood the virus. (Never mind that the new Die Hard sequel is barely even a Die Hard movie at all; that’s a separate issue, and one not even worth discussing.)bd0a1a272a8edd801c096158410f6a522cedb846b182e37e748fa8d0.jpg

But some people have to make a statement all the time; they can’t just like what they like, and let others like what they like. For some reason, that’s difficult for them. I don’t feel guilty about my guilty pleasures, and I see no reason why I should. Should I feel ashamed that I have Clueless in my DVD collection? I don’t see why. It’s a funny movie. I enjoy watching it. If you can resist the charms of Alicia Silverstone, that’s your problem, buddy. I own the “Whatever!” Edition, and I feel no shame. Look, I never had any grand illusions (or delusions) about bringing down the system. The system’s still there, last time I checked. I never thought it would be otherwise. If you refuse to watch anything made by Hollywood, you’re going to miss out on a lot of great stuff. And there are just as many awful indie and foreign films as there are awful Hollywood films. I know, because I’ve seen them. The great irony is, when you really get to know the film snobs, you find out they grew up on Spielberg and Lucas just like everybody else in the world. And they cried at the end of E.T. too. I just wasn’t bullshitting anybody about it.

This new strain of the virus is even more insidious, because some people apparently don’t even know they have it. But they’re exhibiting symptoms nonetheless. It’s gotten to the point where people aren’t just criticizing individual films any more, they’re actually questioning the existence of entire genres and asking, “why does Hollywood keep making these films?” In other words, why do these movies exist? Well, if you’re going to get all existential and whatnot, you could ask why anything exists. I’m not a philosophy professor, so I really can’t help you with that. But in general, genre movies exist because people like them. Therefore, they keep buying tickets, therefore the studios make money, therefore more genre movies are made. Seems pretty obvious to me. If you don’t understand that, I don’t know what to tell you. Like any other business, Hollywood makes a product that people buy. Variations on a theme. If something works, they keep doing it. If there’s an audience for something, they keep serving that audience, because that’s how they make money. What don’t you understand?

Here’s the basic comment I keep reading over and over again: I don’t know why they keep making movies like this and I think you people are stupid for watching them over and over again and I’m so tired of these movies and you people suck for watching them and you must be idiots for paying to see them and Hollywood sucks for making them and blah blah blah…

Well, I’ve got an easy solution for you, buddy… stop watching them.

That’s right. It’s that simple. No one is forcing you to watch anything. Where is this proverbial “gun to your head” that is forcing you to watch any movie? It doesn’t exist. It is your choice to watch something. No one is strapping you to a chair and prying your eyes open like Malcolm McDowell in A Clockwork Orange. That doesn’t happen. When you watch a movie, you are making a choice and making an effort to watch that movie. Whether it’s in a theater, at home, wherever, nothing is being forced in front of your eyes. So if you don’t want to watch something, just ignore it and move on with your life.

That’s all you have to do. If you don’t like horror films, don’t watch them. That’s all. You don’t have to berate others for watching them. That’s their choice. Worry about your own choices, not other people’s choices. Move on with your life. If you’re tired of superhero movies, stop seeing them. No one is forcing you to see them. Do what you want, and let other people do what they want. If you don’t like raunchy comedies, you don’t have to see them. Just DON’T GO. There’s no gun to your head. Know your own taste and watch what you like to watch. Or watch nothing at all. I don’t care. No one cares. NO ONE IS FORCING YOU TO BUY A TICKET.

Why don’t people understand this? I really don’t know. Look, it’s one thing to criticize an individual movie that you’ve watched as being bad. Everyone has the right to do that, of course (provided you can back it up with actual criticism). It’s another thing to take an entire genre as a whole and say, “this has no right to exist”. Bullshit. Of course it does. Even if it’s something I don’t particularly like myself, it still has the right to exist. There’s no argument there. I might think a genre is total bullshit, and I might not want to watch films of that genre. But it still has the right to exist. I would never point to any filmmaker and say, “the films you make should not exist.” Except for child porn. Obviously. What about hardcore porn, amongst consenting adults? Yep. You may not like it or watch it, but I can’t say it has no right to exist. If adults consented to do it, that’s their choice. It’s not my place to say they have no right to do it. If you don’t want to watch A Serbian Film, then don’t watch it. But you don’t have to be upset that it exists. Just don’t watch it. But don’t try to take away other people’s right to watch it, as long as they’re adults. Why is this so difficult to understand?

Believe it or not, it’s even possible to criticize individual films within a genre without hating the entire genre as a whole. For example, I think the Final Destination movies are basically just mean-spirited death porn without point or purpose. But I don’t write off the entire horror genre because of them. Do you see the difference? I’m not stupid enough to say, “I don’t like those movies, therefore I hate all horror movies.” But lots of people seem to think that way. Even some so-called critics. You have to be smart enough to look at films as individual pieces of work, made by different people with different intentions. If you look at an entire genre as being one thing and one thing only, then you are missing the various individual films within that genre and how they differ from each other. That goes for horror films, action films, spaghetti Westerns, 60’s biker films, pretty much any genre you want to put in there. It’s like saying Flash Gordon and Solaris are the same film because they’re both science fiction. Obviously they are not the same film. But some people seem to paint with those kind of broad strokes. Are Love and Death and Fletch the same film? No, of course not. They’re both comedies, but they’re extremely different films. I happen to really enjoy both of them. I imagine you get my point by now?

I keep telling people – get Netflix. You can choose from thousands of movies on streaming and DVD. You no longer have to rely on what your local cineplex is playing. If you want Tarkovsky and Bela Tarr, you can have that. If you want Strippers vs. Werewolves, you can have that too. Or you can have both, and everything in between. Netflix doesn’t judge. You can choose what you want to watch, when you want to watch it. You don’t have to care what other people are watching. If there’s nothing playing at your local theaters that you want to see, you don’t have to go. You don’t have to see Michael Bay’s Giant Shiny Metal Boxes Fight Each Other Part 5: This Time It’s Personal just because it’s the only thing playing. You’re allowed to stay home. No one is forcing you to see anything you don’t want to see. Watch something you like instead. It’s like, I don’t listen to Justin Bieber because I’m not a 12-year-old girl. But I’m not bothered by the existence of Justin Bieber. I just listen to the music that I like, and I move on with my life. Why waste my time hating something that I can’t do anything about? What other people listen to is not my business, and it’s not something I have any control over. I just spend my time enjoying the music that I love. That’s what makes me happy. If I went around lecturing people about their taste all the time, that would just be a wasted effort and everyone would think I was an asshole. What’s the point?

If I’ve learned anything in my time on this planet, I’ve learned that people are going to like what they want to like. And you have to accept that. And you should accept that. Stop worrying about what other people are doing. Worry about what you are doing. Believe in your own taste and love the things you love. I always encourage people to try new things, to go outside their boxes and sample whatever might interest them, whatever genre or subject matter it may happen to be in. Expand your own tastes and experiences with cinema. I still do that all the time, and I’m often surprised in what I end up liking. But the truth is, we all have our own comfort foods and guilty pleasures, and there’s nothing wrong with that. We wouldn’t want people judging us for the movies we love, so why judge others for the movies they love? Just acknowledge, accept and move on.

And remember what I always say – your least favorite film is someone else’s all-time favorite film. It sounds crazy, but it’s true. Someone out there loves that piece of shit. Don’t bother to ask why. They just do.

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