One of my favorite bloggers, Mark Evanier, has written a self-described “cranky” blog entry about how annoyed he gets when people question his tastes. In particular, Evanier reveres the 1963 comedy film It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, and there is an acquaintance of his who is forever trying to convince Evanier that his love of the movie is just wrong. (You can read Evanier’s blog here.)
I don’t care for It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World myself. I think it’s too long and overblown, and its climax goes beyond slapstick to find out just how much pain it can inflict upon its characters and still keep them alive. At the same time, I don’t hold it against any moviegoers who choose to like the movie. To each his or her own.
I have been dealing with this kind of scorched-earth opinionating ever since I started enjoying movies. At this blog, I have beaten to death the topic of how much I adore Laurel & Hardy. I first began watching them on a local Saturday-morning kids’ show in 1971, when I was 10 years old. Back then, there was only one TV in our household, so I monopolized it for an hour on Saturday mornings. Rather than just leave the room, my older sister would sit with me every Saturday and harangue me about how stupid Laurel & Hardy were and how much she couldn’t stand them.
When I was 17, my father died, and I moved in with my brother and his family in Florida. I had recently decided that I adored Woody Allen based on his movie Annie Hall (and from watching some of his older movies on TV). I had an extremely bratty teenaged niece who decided that if I liked Woody Allen, she would do everything she could to denigrate him. If anyone so much mentioned Woody Allen in my presence, she made sure to get in a few shots about how unappealing and untalented Allen was.
What’s the point of acting that way? No human beings are ever going to agree on everything. How much energy does it take to keep silent for a while, or leave the room if there’s something on TV that others like and you don’t?
Getting back to Laurel & Hardy, my wife is the most anti-L&H movie watcher you could ask for. For a long time, she was as adamant about her dislike of them as my older sister was. Once during one of her harangues, I reminded her that I had to endure this kind of behavior from her any time I wanted to watch a Laurel & Hardy movie, and that if she didn’t like them, perhaps she could simply not watch them with me. She got the point and has left me to my own L&H viewing ever since.
My wife, our two kids, and my wife’s best friend are enthralled with the HBO series “Game of Thrones,” and they plan on getting together every Sunday night to watch this show’s currently-airing final season. I have never begun to understand the appeal of “Game of Thrones.” Would it enhance my family’s viewing of the show for me to sit with them every Sunday and remind them how the show’s appeal is lost on me? It’s easier on all of us for me to just go to bed early on Sunday night.
There are a lot of troubles in this world, and I feel that many of them stem from the belief that there is never any room for compromise or bi-partisanship — it’s either my way or the highway. Let’s consider giving everybody a little wiggle room for their opinions. Letting each person enjoy pop culture that makes them happy is a good place to start.