If you’re anything like me, then you frequent online video review sites like Chez Apocalypse and That Guy With The Glasses. If you’ve never heard of these, then you should really check them out: the videos are hilarious and often educational too, and they have reviewers for anime, film, music, comics, video games and more. There’s even a reviewer who specialises in LGBT culture. There’s truly something for everyone.
Something you notice very quickly while perusing the comments sections of the videos on these sites is that fans often get very defensive if the reviewers attempt to tear into a film/book/video game/song/whatever it is that they really love. These fans simply can’t see their favourite thing as anything less than a flawless masterpiece, so they attack the reviewers and immediately denounce their opinion as rubbish. This often segues very quickly into personal attacks on the reviewers.
I think the same is also true of real life. If you, for example, casually bring up that you have a problem with some of the jokes in The Inbetweeners, inevitably an Inbetweeners fan will leap out from the bushes and demand that you take back your heinous criticism.
This is completely understandable, and I think we’re all guilty of it, myself included. The media we love says so much about who we are as people, so when someone criticises it, it’s difficult not to take it as a slight against us personally. But there are a few things I think we should all keep in mind when someone has a differing opinion about the media we love.
1. Liking the things that you like does not make you stupid, or uncultured, or bigoted. Just because something you like has problematic elements does not mean that you yourself are a bad person for liking the thing. It’s a hard lesson to learn, but worthwhile.
2. Accept that no work made by human hands will ever be perfect. But you can like a thing, flaws and all. For example, you might love Jane Eyre with all of your heart, but you have to admit that it has some pretty questionable sexual and racial politics. The novel is still brilliantly written, and still makes a powerful feminist statement, especially for the time period. But it does have flaws that don’t deserve to be ignored.
3. The magic word is ‘why?’ When someone tweets at you that they hate that TV show you really love, resist the temptation to go into all-caps rant mode about how wrong they are. Instead, ask them why. Let them justify their reasons, take their opinion into account, and then calmly respond with your own opinion. Discussion is good – flame wars are only bad, so if either of you become too defensive or can’t give a decent justification for your opinion, it’s time to leave the convo behind.
4. You will grow as a person through learning to criticise your favourite things. Let’s say you have a pathological hatred of The Great British Bake Off – you can’t see it as anything but a boring waste of time. One day, you meet someone who loves it to pieces: they think it’s calming, or a refreshing change of pace from typical in-your-face reality trash. Suddenly you can see it in a whole new way! You understand why people love it, even if you yourself do not share that love! Your horizons have been broadened; a new perspective has been granted you. And that’s a beautiful thing.
Come on, world: let’s celebrate the media we love, while still acknowledging and discussing its flaws! This can be done, and we can do it!