I don’t want to rant about this, because that won’t accomplish anything, but let me just state a couple “rules” that I think ought to be obvious but apparently are not:
- If you haven’t read it, watched it, listened to it, or partaken of it in some way, DO NOT JUDGE.
- Just because women like something does not mean it’s stupid.
- It’s okay not to like something that is popular. You don’t have to drink the Kool-Aid. Rock on!
- It’s not okay not to like something just because it is popular. That’s called ignorance. Or narrow-minded-ness. Take your pick. (Believe me, I know, because I used to do this all the time.)
- Stories that revolve around ethnic characters are not automatically Quality Literature, despite what some publications would have you believe. You still need an actual STORY.
- Stories that revolve around upper/middle class White People are not automatically lacking in value. Upper/middle class White People are STILL PEOPLE.
There are several things that spurred these all-caps thoughts of mine, but I’ll give you one recent example: Eat, Pray, Love.
People are all up in arms because this “rich” white woman who gets to “discover herself in brown countries.” They call her book self-centered and self-indulgent. They say Julia Roberts is a sh*tty actress and the movie sucks.
Hey guess what, folks? It’s a MEMOIR; of course it’s self-centered. That’s like saying, “Dang, I hate this double fudge cake; it’s too chocolatey.”
I won’t even bother discussing her finances, because it’s her money and if she wants to spend it on a year’s journey of self-discovery instead of car payments, that’s her business. As for the “brown” countries, well, last I checked Italy was European (generally considered “white”) and Indonesia is in Southeast Asia (arguably “yellow”). Also, she never thinks of these places as mere Crayola colors; her critics do. No, she explores and appreciates them for their strengths and virtues.
Now, I haven’t seen the movie, so following my own rule #1 above, I can’t judge it. But I will say this: it’s fine not to like the movie, or Julia Roberts, or even the book. (See rule #3.) Just don’t turn those specific dislikes into broad generalizations, okay? Because it’s ugly and stupid and makes the angels cry. (See rule #4.) Also, it looks a lot like jealousy.
Oy, so much for not ranting…
24 responses to “Not a rant”
Well put, Kristan.
Well written and I agree.
Could NOT agree more!!
Your non-rant made me smile!
Hard to argue with anything you’ve said except one thing.* Not liking something without experiencing it is an immature thing to do – and I mean that literally. My 5 year old regularly refuses to try new food because “she doesn’t like it.” She’s never had it in her life, but she knows she doesn’t like it. Immature it might be, but it’s also very powerful. When forced to try something – one time I made her try honey (honey!) – and already having decided that she doesn’t like it, she will in fact, after trying it, maintain that she doesn’t like it with very few exceptions.
The thing that I do take umbrage at, though, is your use of the word “ignorant” in point 4. I know it’s become part of slang to proclaim “ignorance” to be an attitude, but it is not an attitude. It is a state of not knowing. While yes, you could say that the people you are criticizing in this post are “ignorant” of “Eat Pray Love” because they have not seen it, your point is not, “So many people have not seen/read this movie/book! We must rectify this!” Your point is that you don’t like the opinion of *certain* “ignorant” people about EPL. For instance, I am “ignorant” of EPL, having never seen the movie nor read the book, but I don’t think you have an issue with me, as I have no opinion about it.
But whatever, this is just a pet peeve of mine. Since we’re (not) ranting here anyway. ;)
Great rant with some great points! And actually…Elizabeth Gilbert didn’t even finance the trip…her publishers did. She suggested the trip/idea and it was financed with a huge advance so she could write the book.
Excellent post. I immediately thought of Eat Pray Love when I started reading the beginning haha. I haven’t read the book or seen the movie (but I’m definitely going to do both!) and the critics are really irritating me with their claims about a “rich white woman” in a “brown country” and all this other irrelevant race and class garbage. A ton of 20 something bloggers are making these claims. The same people that are always complaining about relationships or jobs and want a book deal or to make money off blogging. As if they wouldn’t do what she did in a SECOND if they could. It seems hypocritical, and you are absolutely right. :)
Actually I did mean ignorant in the actual definition: “just because it’s popular” is not an educated/informed reason. If a person has other reasons not to like something that happens to be popular, that’s different.
But you’re right, immature is a good word for it too. And of course kids are immature! Hehe, that’s sort of their prerogative. The goal is to help them mature, with the hope that they will learn to make educated/informed decisions and opinions.
More later, but it’s late and I’m starving!
Well, you might feel better knowing that, although there is ill-informed negative press out there…it’s probably going to catalyze the work’s popularity. Which, in turn, will make a few more people less ignorant. Nothing gets people to see/read something more than a little controversy. To be honest, I’m a bit ignorant myself of all this E,P,L business, but that could be due to the WIP bubble I’ve been living in (or, that I’m a guy who reads a title like that and shudders). Good stuff, though, Kristan. Certainly applicable to more than just books and movies.
I don’t read a lot of memoirs–just not my thing. I like that Eat, Pray, Love has opened a lot of doors for the genre.
I feel the same way that you, but about the film, “The Last Airbender.” Critics slammed it and it really insulted me because I thought the director did some decent storytelling, but in his own style. Sometimes people have these expectations and when they’re not met it all a ruckus. I simply go into a story or watch a film with no expectations–much better when something really hits me as good. (or bad). Take me on a journey, y’know? If you fail, then, well, I’ll never think about it again.
Yep, exactly. I read that, but so many people don’t understand the advance system that it didn’t seem worth going into in this particular post.
True true, and that is a slight consolation. And *absolutely* this applies to more than books or movies. EPL was just the easiest example for me to point to.
“Sometimes people have these expectations and when they’re not met it all a ruckus.”
Good point. Then there are the people that jump on the bandwagon, too. Sometimes that annoys me even more…
But anyway, yes, take me on a journey!
I think critics are unhappy that a lady is promoting feminism through this book.
And, what’s with skin-colour? Does that make people any smarter or stupider?
Thanks, Maimoona! And no, skin color doesn’t make people smarter or stupider; I don’t know why it gets brought up so often in criticisms.
Yes, but you are critiquing people’s attitudes and opinions not their state of being. Ignorance is a state of being. “Just because it’s popular” is not a state of being.
I know it’s slang to use the word ignorant in this way, and I suppose the more it is used in this way, eventually its official meaning and definition will change. Doesn’t mean I have to like it though!
PS I’m halfway through Mockingjay. :)
PS – I hope my comment didn’t sound as if there’s anything WRONG with wanting a book deal or to make money blogging, obviously there’s not. :) But when someone wants those things and then hates on others who have it fall into their lap by simple luck, then that’s a problem and where the hypocrisy lies. A lot of people our age have a bit of an entitlement attitude and it’s really funny to see them complain about someone else’s success when it is exactly what they want to happen to them. Also, a lot of people just like to hate on something because it’s popular and they need to find a reason why it shouldn’t be.
SO JEALOUS. I hope my copy of Mockingjay comes today, but apparently it could be as late as Thursday. -_-‘
No no, it didn’t, and of course there isn’t. And 100% agree with everything else you just said!
It’s ALL about jealousy – who doesn’t want to be Elizabeth Gilbert? I do! (minus the divorce). I didn’t know about this controversy, though. Thanks for addressing it.
Agreed about ignorant people. As I pet peeved this January I think on my blog–ignorant people shouldn’t exist. I mean, there’s something called wikipedia!
Oh, if only it were that simple. :(
More like this, please, Internet.
You weren’t ranting, trust me. I grew up in New York and that’s no rant. :-)
Okay, about popularity, as a reviewer, I’ve come to be slightly suspicious of popular books because I’ve been on the receiving end of waves of publicity and it becomes obnoxious getting the push to join the amen chorus.
I’ve written about this recently for Huffington Post:
I can totally understand being slightly suspicious, but (especially after reading your recent HuffPo post) you don’t seem to be automatically dismissing any work simply *because* it is popular. That’s what really miffs me, when I see it. On the other hand, you seem to have actual *reasons* for not liking books that *happen* to be popular. And that’s cool; art is subjective! (I too did not quite care for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The Lovely Bones, however, I loved. ;P)
In the spirit of your ‘not rant’ #1, I got sick of being called stupid and uninformed, so I read the entire Health Care bill (2000+ pages) and the entire Arizona immigration law (10-16 pages–much faster). You are so right. It’s important to read that stuff.
Wow, props to you, Jacqui!