SHE SAID: Mainstreamedness

Samuel Johnson would have a field day with you.  On the one hand, yes language evolves and adapts, on the other, no.  You can’t throw a word and some suffixes together and celebrate your literary inventiveness.  Perhaps Jeremy has taken on a new occupation penning Sarah Palin’s speeches.

The main issue here isn’t whether or not a fan was a fan before the hype, but more whether or not the appreciation is genuine or not.  Because I have no issue with someone who genuinely appreciates something regardless of when they discovered their passion.

Passion is contagious and beautiful.  I love watching my friends enjoy something or do something they enjoy.  And it is our love of songs or movies or sports and our desire to share that love with those around us that leads to mainstream appreciation, which is what most who are producing something want.  I love my brother’s passion for the Red Sox, day in and day out.  I love my son’s obsession with Indiana Jones, even though the first movie’s came out when I was in grade school and Indy’s so mainstream that xBox and Lego are cashing in on his fame.  And I am not going to tell my boyfriend he can’t like the Kings of Leon because I introduced him to them once their third album was out.

I do, however, get annoyed by those who are fans only because it’s cool to do so.  The girl in high school who claimed a lifelong love of Led Zeppelin shortly after she realized her crush was a die-hard fan annoyed me.  The sports fan who only watches during the playoffs/finals/world series and won’t shut up about it makes me feel cheated.  The woman who buys not because she likes the item, but because she knows it’s “in” depresses me, as does her endless and ironically fruitless journey.  The friend who will only listen to small bands that have yet to go mainstream loses credibility because his appreciation is tainted.  And, making me listen to crappy new bands, each trying not sound like the band that influenced them, gets old quickly.

The real fan, the audience member who can enjoy as if he or she was the creator, the person ahead of the mainstream, on the cutting edge – is it all a quest to define ourselves as something beyond average?  Are we more special if we can truly enjoy or appreciate?  Better?  Cooler?  Smarter?

I think it would be fantastic if people didn’t feel the need to fake or build up passion.  Ultimately, however, I feel guilty judging and commenting on whether or not someone’s appreciation is genuine or not.  Do you have to feel like Bob Dylan is the eighth wonder of the world to be able to enjoy his music and message?  Do you need to have considered asking your girlfriend to marry you on the big screen at a Sox game in order to be considered a real fan?  Maybe Jeremy and my frustration over enjoyment and the genuineness of said enjoyment is only our juvenile refusal to share a favorite toy.

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