Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Hot Stuff

Does anyone else have a problem with things that are wildly popular?

I mean, aside from the fact that some people don't like to be seen as sheeple following the latest trend.  And the other fact that some things might be wildly popular but are vastly unappealing to you personally.  Like, say, Nicki Minaj or Justin Bieber.  And sometimes, when Nicki Minaj fans ask who the heck Paul McCartney is, you just want to punch them in the throat and scream "HE'S A REAL MUSICIAN".  But then you remember that that's mean.

No, aside from all of that, frequently I don't want to get into the popular stuff simply because it's popular.  And no, I'm not a hipster.  I was always concerned about the Chilean miners, not just when they were underground.

I don't know, it's like the more people push me to do things or tell me that I'll really like them, the less I want to pick them up.  It's definitely made me more careful when I recommend things.  Sometimes people are looking for a recommendation and you can almost see it in their eyes.  You really have to look close and judge.  Other people are just being polite because they like you or they're nice people, but really, they're not going to go anywhere close to that band or that book or that movie.

This is ultimately why it took me forever to get into Harry Potter.  Everyone was reading it and everyone told me I had to as well.  I resisted for many years and, being the Tolkien nerd I was, even accused J. K. Rowling of blatantly ripping him off.  I know better now (clearly) but it took me a long time to get over my prejudices against the popular stuff.

Now, sometimes, like I said, this is a good thing.  One word: Twilight.  But other times, this isn't so great: Harry Potter, the Hunger Games, the Percy Jackson books, Artemis Fowl, the Help, Death Cab for Cutie, the Black Keys, LOST, Victoria's Secret, craft beer, and the color pink.  Just to name a few.  These were all things that I very much resisted or am resisting getting into that are quality things actually worth getting into.

I will admit, part of me has hipster snobbery syndrome.  For example, I am a Decemberists fan.  I feel like that makes me anti-Death Cab, for some reason, even though I'm not.  Why do I think this?  Some music-y person please explain this -- they're both great bands, where did this come from?

But sometimes, I get kind of angry.  It makes me mad that people get into a band or an author but then overlook some of their other, really awesome stuff.  It's like people who only like the Decemberists because their last album was pretty popular.  The rest of their albums and music is excellent and super enjoyable, and it kind of makes me mad when people stop at what's popular and don't delve any deeper. They're missing out on so much and don't even realize it.  Or people who only listen to very early Beatles, greatest hits, or very late Beatles.  Middle Beatles and album tracks are stupendous.  Revolver and Rubber Soul are truly inspired works, and hardly anybody knows about them.  Likewise, all my favorite Beatles' songs were not hits.  Or people who listen to covers but don't take the time to listen to the original.  This goes for movies, too.  How many people went back and watched the original War of the Worlds?  Or even picked up the book, unless it was assigned in school?  This kind of thing makes me mad with unknown authors, too.  Yeah, everybody knows about Ray Bradbury and Kurt Vonnegut, and I'm not saying they're not great, but would it kill people to pick up some H. P. Lovecraft or even actually look into the Dune series?  I know Hitchhiker's Guide is supposed to be very good (can't get into it), but what about Isaac Asimov?  And I know that people only have so much time and so much interest and that I'm sure I'm equally guilty of this, but is it really so hard to look around a little bit and explore?

For me, all of this is especially true of The Hunger Games.  I still haven't read them.  I keep meaning to, I swear!  For right now, though, I'm going to briefly ignore the fact that I have way too many books to read and say to myself I will at least read the first one before the movie comes out (because I hate doing it the other way around, most of the time, although it helped with Pride and Prejudice because I was 13).  Anyhow, Suzanne Collins is a fabulous author.  Really truly.  But NO ONE HAS HEARD OF HER OTHER SERIES.  And it's amazing!  It seriously kills me.  First of all, it's a 5 book series (yay two extra books!).  And even though it's supposedly a "kid's" book, all the people I know who have read it are adults.  All the people I've recommended it to have loved it.  I read the series two or three times in a year.  My roommate and I read them out loud, switching off chapters, and had the best time.  I cried when I finished the series.  And you know what?  They're imaginative, dark, complex, well-developed and well-characterized books.  They deal with adult themes and Suzanne Collins does not dumb down her material or talk down to the kids reading them.  She treats them with respect, and it shows in her writing.  

Originally, I read the first book, Gregor the Overlander, because my mom had read it and she told me she cried when a cockroach died.  WHAT.  My mother, the scourge of cockroaches everywhere, had cried when a fictional one died.  This was beyond insane.  I HAD to read that book!  Finally, I did, and I read it so quickly.  And then I couldn't stop!  I had to read the rest of the series, right then.  I'm positive my schoolwork suffered, because I couldn't concentrate on anything except these books for weeks.  And they're not just a one-time read, either.  Like I said, I've read these books several times in two years.  They are, perhaps with the exception of Harry Potter, my favorite kid fantasy books.  Better than The Hobbit,  more than Alice in Wonderland, more exciting than A Series of Unfortunate Events, I adore this series.

Unfortunately, you probably have the same HSS as I do.  (Remember, that stands for Hipster Snobbery Syndrome -- yeah, it's gonna be a thing.)  Now that I've recommended it and gushed my little heart out about it, you probably aren't going to pick it up and you couldn't care less about it.  You just know I am going to read the Hunger Games if it kills me, and you're going to go back and rave about Katniss and death-matches elsewhere (which is fine), but I'm telling you sincerely. . .

You're missing out.

Now wasn't that a terribly ironic blog post?

1 comment:

  1. Oh, I know what you're talking about. But I try really hard not to let this prejudices be too strong and maybe just listen to or read something that's popular and then just to decide on myself wether I like it or not. For example, The Hunger Games are really great. At least the first book, I think, the second and the third are great, too, but not as good as the first one. But I'm sure you're going to find out for yourself someday ;) BUT I already heard about Suzanne Collins' "other" series too and these books are on my wishlist. She writes very well and I can't wait to get a hand on one of the books. So thank you for mentioning that again. I never heard anyone ever talking about these books.