Highway Snobbery

Posted: October 7, 2010 in Comedy Journal

I don’t like many things, and I especially don’t like most popular things. Most folks call me a snob, and the rest call me a curmudgeon. I don’t get angry,

“curmudgeon” is a fun word.

The two are intimately linked. Not liking stuff and not liking people. It’s not a conscious decision. I know that, but I also know it’s not completely involuntary. I avoid a lot of things designed for mass appeal. I worry that I’m trying to be difficult.

Sometimes I get mad when popular things are good. I recently watched a new episode of The Office, and it was funny. But, I kept thinking about my buddy’s formerly pretty and always dimwitted girlfriend giggling over it, and it ruined it for me. I thought of her talking to other “Huge Fans” who never watched the British version, and it made me Not like enjoying it. I wanted it to be bad.

I know that sounds ridiculous. I know that IS ridiculous, but it’s true.

I couldn’t enjoy it, because she did, and if I enjoyed it, it made me like her.

That’s what I think causes most critical snobbery. It isn’t aversion to the actual art, its aversion to the people who consume it. Snobs are nerds who want what they like to be important: and to do that, it has to be exclusive. And while that might make us dicks, I don’t think that makes us wrong.

We identify ourselves by what we like; Bears Fan, Republican, Heterosexual.

Most nerds are picked on when we’re young, because what we like isn’t accepted by the majority. As a result we spend too much time consuming media, and get really good at it (we’ve got a lot of alone time). To combat being ostracized, we embrace it. We still want to feel important, so we make it difficult to share our interests.

We try and like things that are demanding. Things that are essentially acquired tastes; Lou Reed records, Harvey Pekar Comics, Stories where you don’t like the protagonist.

These become our definition of a higher form of “good.” We’re familiar with popular, so we identify stuff that challenges it.

We’re like beer enthusiasts whose favorite beers are Pine-sol tasting Pales or frothy Stouts that look like they were bottled with rainwater.

Sure they might like it, but they mostly like that you don’t. I’m like that with everything. It’s like I’m pushing to not belong. I wonder how much of it is legitimate, and how much of its just me being an angry nerd. 

For instance, I hate Kings of Leon, and that’s understandable, their music is milquetoast puss-rock. But I also hate people who like Kings of Leon.

And that isn’t so understandable. That makes me a jerk.

It’s one thing to say I don’t like Kid Rock or his fans. They’re dicks and I don’t WANT to like them. He’s a scrawny douche posturing as a badass, playing to Jingoist assholes. I’m not saying everybody who likes Baw-wit-da-ba is some mouth-breather. But I am saying Kid Rock makes a living playing “tough-guy” music to insecure teenage boys.So hating Kid Rock makes sense.

But why do I hate Kings of Leon?

They’re not threatening, they’re not ripping off real artists (Warren Zevon.) They just kind of suck.

What makes banality a capital offense in my very very judgmental court?

Why can’t forgive people for wanting to watch that piece of shit Katherine Heigle movie coming out soon? You know the one, the one where she and a handsome dude that may or may not be Girard Butler adopt a baby.

How the fuck can anybody want to see that?

And Why Am I so Mad?

It disrupts my daily life.

Seriously, I couldn’t be friends with somebody who likes “the World According to Jim.” I couldn’t. I would always look down on them. I couldn’t treat them as equals.

That kind of judgmental behavior is reserved for the Religious Right.

But somehow I embrace it in my daily life. I shouldn’t care that people listen to shitty music or like easy comedy. But I do.

I take it as a personal insult.

I take it as a sign of low moral character. I heard a dude in a restraunt the other day talking to his buddy, he said, “…now, “According to Jim” that’s my kind of show.”  I had to move tables. I couldn’t stand to be near him. I had to physically get up and move. If “Jim” fans were a race, I’d be a horrible bigot. 

Entertainment to me is the very highest good. I don’t believe in ideals, or have any use for religion. I think culture is judged by art. I believe a good story can bring us all together (I guess I do have SOME use for religion.)

Narrative and song elevates us to something better than just “smart monkeys.” If people are willing to settle for shit; then that’s all we are. I realize this is a spoiled attitude. Keeping people fed is more important than keeping people thinking, but thinking is what I’m good at, so I’m going to push for it as hard as I can.

When this guy spoke up for inane entertainment he questioned my morality. Not everybody lives in a world where entertainment is essential. They live in a world where entertainment is just entertainment. They’ll take whatever’s offered. They’re complacent. They’re intellectually lazy. Most folks just like whatever’s playing.

People like music, and people like people. So fuck it, let’s put on some Creed, something nobody will be challenged by.

I don’t want to belong to that world. I guess I got pushed out of it enough that I got a good look from the outside, and I’m not that interested.

I want to live in a world where music moves you. Where a good song is a battle cry, or a lesson that needs to be remembered. We as nerds shouldn’t back down when stuff’s awful. Go ahead and be scornful.

Nobody likes John Mayer; he’s fucking terrible.

You can think he’s funny or handsome and that’s fine. He is those things. But if you tell me he’s a great artist, we’ll fucking fight.

I will meet you in the street and bash your head in with a hammer.

I’ll “say what you need to say” John.

I say write another line to that fucking song.

Somebody said to me, “You know, he’s got better stuff than that.” He’d have to! Everything is better than that. NOT THAT song is better than THAT song.

I don’t claim to I really “know” music. I can’t play an instrument; I don’t know music theory. But I do try to learn what makes stuff influential or important; what makes something “Good.” Then I realized. That’s exactly why I’m so pissed off.

He Isn’t Good, and it doesn’t matter. I don’t hate him as a dude. I’ve read his interviews, and he gets the joke. He’s not looking to change anything; the system works for him. He’s like a Musical Politician. He says Nothing, but he says it well.

He’ll write a song you’ve heard before, and you’ll feel smart when you hear it because you know how it goes, duh, you fucking heard it before. Somebody told you what music was, and the pursuit ended there.

I don’t know exactly why I love the bands I do and don’t like others. But I do know why I hate John Mayer. He’s singing feel good garbage and pretending its art because he’s sing about things “Really Deep” like paying attention to your child and looks woeful while he’s doing it. People buy it because he’s handsome. What a bunch of idiots.

When people are willing to consume shit because good-looking people are in it, or because its reminiscent of stuff they already know, it trivializes something that’s important.

People choose repetition over innovation, and it’s not just “Pop” culture. It has affected the faux-rebel class too. The crowd that frequently gets labeled as “Hipsters.” The Geek-cool.

We’re just as cliquey.

The Hold Steady aren’t brilliant, they just write songs about drugs and the girls in their ballads are pierced up and damaged. Girl’s way more likely to sleep with dudes who listen to a band like The Hold Steady.

And our values are just as easily corrupted. “The Walking Dead” is coming out on TV this Halloween. And nerds are all excited. I’m not. I won’t watch it. I don’t want to share a great story with people who aren’t willing to read it. I don’t want stupid folk or the illiterate in on something this good.

Besides, this isn’t a PG-13 story. It’s Not! It’s human and adult: people get raped, little kids get murdered, the main character’s wife and infant get blown apart by a shotgun blast. (Fuck you and your Spoiler Alert. Read The Comic.)

Am I trying to alienate myself from the only group that’ll have me? Maybe. But I don’t think we should treat the things we like as above reproach or inspection.

Snobbery’s important. It keeps us honest. If we start behaving like what we like is “Good” because we like it, we invalidate our argument that there is “higher good.”

Snobbery gets a bad rap. I think in an era where art is so dictated by profit artists cater to the masses. To do that, you dumb things down. And what you get is diluted art.

All the edges are taken off so the dumb kids won’t get it stuck in their eye.

What’s changing now is that everybody has the time and means to consume a lot of “art,” so everybody’s a critic. It’s important that we snobs, we pissed-off, grown-up nerds defend the stuff we dig.

And make sure you really dig it, you don’t just like fitting in with other misfits. Evaluate your decisions and tastes.

Order your coffee black. And make sure you like the full-roast. Of course you like the sugar.

  1. Dave Gennaro says:

    Most entertainment is dumb because most people are dumb, including entertainers. Basically there are a bunch of retards running around admiring the art of other retards. Even the stupid have there day in the sun, so sometimes they get it. Or we just get something out of it so we think they might have an artistic breakthrough. Usually though it is just by our own inner stupid that for a brief moment we were entertained by the art of a stupid, no ones that smart. All this is why East Coast snobs attend the symphony and the opera. I would mention the theatre but I heard Pee Wee is on Broadway and well I don’t know how I feel about that.
    Enjoy life, and life is love, its all we have.

    • DJ Dangler says:

      Just so you know Dave, Pee Wee on Broadway IS AWESOME! But I’m with you on the idea that most people are idiots, and most people like stuff based on the group that watches it, not the thing their watching or consuming by itself. I guess that’s what I’m hating too. Just I’m a little angrier at EVERY group than most people are. I hope you’re still digging my blog. Thanks for reading. My last story takes place in the Pi house, It’s fun. Anyway, I hope you’re awesome dude. Shine On.

  2. the prattman says:

    Dave, that’s dumbest thing I ever heard.

    • Dave Gennaro says:

      Really? You don’t have to take my word for it, its George Carlin 101. And the part about East Coast snobs, the Opera and the Symphony were pertaining to classical cultural refinement. Now I haven’t lived in the are for a while, but if my old classmates behavior at my 10 year high school reunion was indicative of anything, its that these people hold a core belief that they are intellectually and culturally superior to people from the Midwest. Now I am not intending to make a generalization, my hometown in North Central New Jersey is an exceptionally brilliant system for molding young people into douche bags. I don’t agree with DJ on a couple points, yeah I don’t want a world full of posers either, but do you have to be able to write a book on a subject before you can claim it as a hobby or interest.

      And in final rebuttal to your statement, criticism with no constructive foundation is also called bitching.

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