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Variety

June 28, 2011

Okay, so I’ve clearly established that I’m an elitist with a condescending disdain for all things mainstream.  I’m certainly far from the first person to express the sentiment.  But I want my representation of myself to be as balanced as possible, which means what I’m going to say next is essential.

 

The thing is, I like parties.  I like getting buzzed off of cheap beer (since my taste in alcohol is very unsophisticated, I actually feel kind of guilty when I drink good beer because I don’t appreciate it enough).  I like beer pong.  And damned if I don’t like dancing at parties–dry humping and all.

 

And besides that, I like top 40 music, B horror movies, 3D movies, Disney movies, fast food, reality TV, cheesy romance novels, Facebook, Costco, Pokemon (actually, I LOVE Pokemon), and anything else you can associate with mainstream consumer whorism.  And I don’t mean that I like these things for ironic purposes–I’m no hipster (although I think hipsters are awesome).  I mean that I genuinely enjoy them.

 

I don’t object on principle to anything mainstream any more than I object on principle to anything sophisticated.  What I do object to is the tendency to choose what is mainstream to the exclusion of everything else.  In fact, if you are the kind of person who refuses to watch TV or listen to rock and roll and spends his/her nights listening exclusively to classical music, eating only at 5-star restaurants, and attending nothing but symphonies and plays, you annoy me for the same reasons as do those who only pay attention to what is mainstream.  My grandmother is that kind of person, and while I admire my grandmother for a ton of reasons, her condescending disdain for all things mainstream is not one of them.

 

I mean, there are so many experiences you can have in this world–why limit yourself to having the same experiences over and over again?  Especially if those experiences happen to be the same experiences that everyone else experiences?

 

I recently had a conversation with a new friend, and we found out that we both considered XTC one of our favorite bands.  We were both amazed, because nobody our age has usually even heard of XTC, much less regularly listened to it.  It made me think about how little most people expand their musical horizons.  There are plenty of critics who would say that Andy Partridge is one of the most brilliant songwriters of all time.  Yet of all the songs in his prolific career, only “Dear God” is ever mentioned by anyone in my generation, and even that song is far from well-known.

 

I realize that I can’t really claim superiority in my music tastes over everyone.  After all, my taste in music simply came directly from my mom, so it’s not like I discovered XTC on my own.  And obviously, I’m not saying XTC has to be one of your favorite bands.  But you should at least be the kind of person who, after reading this far, is curious enough to learn more about XTC and actually try listening to some of its songs.  And not because I want you to and you think I’m a pretty cool guy, but because you’re the kind of person who’s naturally disposed to want to discover something new.  And once you’ve listened to some XTC songs, you should at least be able to recognize how awesome XTC is, and maybe even genuinely enjoy it a little, even if it’s not something you would listen to regularly.  (I genuinely enjoy your top 40 music, after all.)  There was a whole generation of music that came before the music we grew up with, and willfully ignoring all of that music is an affront to music lovers.

 

I’m starting to get preachy again, so I’m going to wrap this up.  What I’m trying to say is that my brand of elitism is not snobbery.  It’s just the opposite–it stems from my love of virtually everything under the sun.  I want people to appreciate variety the way I do.  The kind of person I want to meet will go to a party one day, a symphony the next, a five-mile jog the next, a basketball game (either attending or participating–take your pick) the next, a summer blockbuster the next, a dance workshop the next, a poker tournament the next, an art museum the next, a video game marathon the next… you get the idea.  I want to meet someone who is completely fearless when it comes to doing something different and will gladly step outside of his/her comfort zone at a moment’s notice.  And again, I don’t want you to step outside of your comfort zone because it’s good for you to do so; I want you to step outside of your comfort zone because you’re excited about doing so.

 

One last thing, and this may be the most important of all.  All of this goes for people, too.  Just as I’ll listen to music that’s different from what I’m used to hearing, I’ll meet anyone who makes me step outside of my comfort zone, and I’ll do it with gusto.  It doesn’t matter how poorly our personalities match.  Show me a person who’s different from the people I’m used to interacting with, and I’ll get to know that person.

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