Before Christmas, when only the select few devotees of film fest flickery and the most with-it film buffs had seen this little movie about a 16 year old girl who gets pregnant, people were hailing it as one of the best and funniest films of the year, one of the most original and best written comedies of 2007. People loved this movie.
Then, the wide release happened.
Suddenly, everyone and their Gossip Girl-watching sister had seen it. Suddenly every Forever 21-wearing 15 year old had “Anyone But You” by the Moldy Peaches as their MySpace default song. Suddenly this little indie gem was the Number Two movie in the nation. And then suddenly, the inevitable backlash hit. Suddenly, the movie wasn’t as funny or smart as people had thought before. How had they not noticed it weeks ago? Who talks like that? And Kimya Dawson? Please. She’s a Nico wannabe. Oh they use Velvet Underground and Nico in the soundtrack too? Oh, real original. And how droll, a pro-life message. I hate this movie.
It’s time to chill out people. For starters, why are we all of the sudden getting protective over the Moldy Peaches? No one’s talked about them in years. I think we can all agree, they actually kind of sucked, but who really cares because they only made one album anyway. Seriously.
Look, I know why this happens. God knows I do it too, that’s why I feel I can speak with authority on this subject. And I know why we do it. Not to get analytical on you, but let’s face it, we do this because other kids weren’t nice to us in grade school. Those “popular” kids were mean to us for one reason or another, so the only sources of happiness and understanding became movies and music, stuff that was personal, stuff we could call our own. And that’s great, thank god we have that. But at some point it goes from being different to being elitist. And to be elitist makes you no better than the ones who turned you this way in the first place. The rejection of the mainstream does not make you better than the mainstream, contrary to what we think sometimes. Because, and listen up because I’ll never say this again – John Cusack was wrong. It’s not what you like that matters.
Now granted, I’m being a hypocrite right now. And the fact is, I can look at a totally lame human being and tell you exactly what music and movies they like. This is because I’m kind of terrible. But I’m trying to save you people here. Because really, how many times have you been disappointed when you find out that a song by a band you like was on Grey’s Anatomy? And your opinion of The Shins has changed a bit since Garden State, hasn’t it, even though their music’s gotten even better. And let’s all talk about how after those iPod commercials, we suddenly didn’t love Feist as much as we thought we did.
Now let’s be more honest. If you saw Napoleon Dynamite when it first came out in limited release, before the masses were saying “GOSH!” and “IDIOT!” all the time, you liked it. For some of us, it’s our nature, and it sucks.
I don’t want to be an elitist snob anymore. I had a year at college where I went out of my way to be as mainstream as possible, as kind of an experiment, to be an appreciator of the popular in a world of artsy pretension, because let’s face it, it was the only way to be original, and at that somewhat troubled time in my life, it was the only way I was going to stay sane, because good Christ otherwise I would have been the twee-est indiest little brat you’ve ever met. I worked at Abercrombie, I watched tons of chick flicks, and I loved loved loved Britney. It was kind of a fun social experiment.
Here’s the thing though: even though I wasn’t really being myself, I wasn’t *not* being me. Except the Abercrombie thing, which actually taught me a lesson, because their sweaters are actually quite comfy. But I do love chick flicks and dammit I did love pre-crazy Britney. But this is stuff you’re not supposed to admit if you want to be “cool.” Because somewhere along the way, cool stopped meaning popular and became the opposite. Somewhere along the way, liking things you genuinely like had to become guilty pleasures in order for us to live with ourselves, and that’s ridiculous.
The fact is I’m still going to laugh at people that watch The Hills but when I do that I’m going to think long and hard about the hours I’ve spent defending The OC (no-seriously-it-was-a-genuinely-good-show-all-four-seasons-I-swear.) And I’m going to continue to love Juno even though it’s a huge moneymaker because above +all else, it was a good smart, funny movie.
Why can’t we all just like what we like and not try to outcool each other?
Why can’t we just unite under something real and factual?
Like how awful Dane Cook is.
Courtney Enlow is a writer living in Chicago and working as a corporate shill to pay the bills. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.