Someone once told me that until they’d seen my collection of movies, books, comics and music that I was an elitist snob. But that after seeing what I liked they had no clue what or who I was. Along side of Marx Brothers comedies was Jackass the Movie, alongside of Edgar Allan Poe and Lord Dunsany I read John Norman, and pulps, my comics covered the breadth and length of the history of comics without any sort of niches, except for Jack Kirby, Moebius and Timothy Truman, and my music spanned all genres and styles. The music was what they saw as the final straw. Alongside of Opera, I shelved Death metal, alongside of Motown I shelved Jazz, and there was Country music, Punk, and all sorts of things they’d never even known existed.
Now, this is not to announce to the world that I have an enormous collection. Because outside of the books I gathered during my years preparing to teach, I have relatively small collections of whatever I have. It is not because I am or was opposed to size of a collection being large or enormous, just, in the first ten years of my marriage my wife and I moved over a dozen times. And that sucks. And bringing books and such with you sucks too. So over time when I can trade down I do, when I can buy what I like in a format that is great I do.
But what I am, and what they could not understand, is a person who believes that all forms of music, literature, dance, drama, film, and games should have equal respect if done well. I am not saying all is equal in terms of quality, but in terms of how one should respect another’s work, in terms of giving all arts a fair chance to express their goals and final product.
As a reviewer, despite my training in Academia to read and write reviews of works in a critical fashion, I found it nearly impossible to dislike most anything in print. Oh yes, there are many pieces of crap in the world of creative arts, but when I was given great works alongside them I never wanted to poop on the bad for fear of missing out on an opportunity to promote something that was really good. That doesn’t sit well with numerous people who read critical reviews. And I accept and understand that. However, I can still do my thing and the people who don’t like my thing can go look elsewhere for the heavy critiques, the definitive reviews, and of course the snarky crap that seems to be everywhere.
This isn’t though a piece about reviewing, nor my collection. However much they’ve been referred towards.
I am saying that when looking at great works and not so great, it is no crime to enjoy anything. We are not bound by any rule that says Rob Schneider movies must not make you laugh. We are allowed to enjoy King Kong beating the crap out of Godzilla, despite the clearly fake effects, despite the horrid voice acting. What you enjoy is just that.
So, am I therefore a(n) universalist regarding culture*? Of course I could be, there is nothing wrong with that, but no. Do I think all expressions of creativity are equal? The performance artist who covered her nude self in chocolate pudding and read poetry decrying misogyny certainly caught my attention, but it was nothing nearly as powerful as any of the songs by Tracy Chapman about the same subject. Both expressed something important, perhaps personally to each woman performing, but one was better. I think taste is involved but the quality of one presentation was simply better.
I am trying I guess to explain that people might assume that people who like punk music won’t like country or disco, but people might also assume Opera is great and still like the Three Stooges, Nascar, and other fine things in life. Like what you like, high art, low brow, mass culture, popular culture, critical nightmare, or critically acclaimed, what you like is in your soul, don’t second guess your own taste.
* But with only one exception that I’ve noticed (not going to talk about it now at least), I am a(n) universalist regarding foods from all cultures. I guess there is more than one reason I am chubbers.
Here is where you may find more of me:
My Poetry Blog
My Comic book recommendations Blog