I have a tendency to like things when I don’t fully understand the community around it. This goes across all forms of entertainment. Audio, visual, literary, whatever. I think part of it is that I’m not a ‘social creature’ per say, so I don’t have a lot of community influence.
A good example would be the musical and aesthetic stylings of seapunk, vapor wave, etc. I fuck with the music and love the look of pastel 90’s style graphics with a little darkness behind it. But the community makes no sense to me, and I’m sure some of it is just me being judgmental. I also like a lot of ‘dark’ things, from indie horror movies to tumblr blogs. I will read a lot of creepy pasta. I am down for whatever TV show you want to give me. The style? I’m there for it. The community? Eh.
An even larger community that I tend to eschew is geek culture. I’ll be the first one to admit that I’m into some many somewhat extremely geeky things, but a lot of the overlap and culture I can’t get into.
Part of this is also my affinity for -realism. Note the dash. Magical-realism. Speculative Fiction > pulpy Science Fiction. Some of you are reading this and either offended or rolling your eyes. I’m sorry! I can handle a LOT of genre tropes and visuals, and I can suspend a metric shit ton of disbelief. I’ve just always been turned off when things veer too far out.
I feel like various genre-realisms focus on characterization, where more pure forms are flashier and more about the ‘thrill’ of the plot. And that’s GREAT. It’s certainly needed sometimes. But I’m always going to choose a character driven plot where genre accents the story rather than being the story.
I think a lot of this comes from peoples’ experiences, especially if we’re dealing with alternative subcultures. I didn’t have the type of friends at earlier ages that got me into genre things. I didn’t have ‘nerd’ friends, but I didn’t have any other friends either. So I’ve wound up in this weird middle ground where I love the fantastical, but without the sense of familiarity to understand the culture around it.
Everything I like, for the most part, I found on my own, most likely in a bookstore or on the internet. Most of these times, I was alone. I introduced myself to genre. I developed my tastes and sensibilities without much social influence. This inspires a level of conviction — this is my thing, I love it, and no one can make me not like this thing, even if I don’t like the community — but also kept me from truly understanding a lot of the cultural aspects of genre.
A good antithesis to this would be my musical tastes through the years. When I was a teenager, I was a total ‘emo’ kid and had the CDs (CDs!) to prove it. I hung out with similarly styled teens. We were all emotional together. We informed each others’ tastes, our likes and our dislikes, what was lame and what was cool (we were wrong, but that’s another subject). These were people I hung with at school, but when the final bell rang, I was nearly always finding myself alone.
But later, when I had grown a little more, when I’d left home and moved on, I discovered other types of music and found beauty in new things. And even later than then? The same thing happened with hip hop. The more relevant it was to my social circle, the more I grew to understand it, the more I liked it. And now look at me. I’m deep in the cut for hip hop. And while I don’t listen to my earlier styles of music, just watch me show out when MCR comes on.
A similar trend can be seen with some art and story styles, such as anime and manga. I’m not well versed in either, but as a teen the social influence was there, and I had my year or so of reading manga. Even now, social influence drops anime and manga in my lap occasionally. I didn’t watch any Miyazaki films until I was already in my 20’s, and they’re some of my favorites; they’ll be influences on my work forever.
This particular genre — if it’s even right to call it that, perhaps medium would be more accurate? This particular genre is a great middle ground to this post’s topic, because while social influence has occasionally got me into anime and manga, and even developed an appreciation of the style and art of it, the social influence wasn’t large enough to truly throw me into it.
Because of this, as I’ve said, I’m not well versed. So I’ve developed an appreciation for something without knowing anything about it, or even truly understanding it. This brings us back to the beginning, actually: if you’d like, you can stop here, go back to the first paragraph, and reread it continuously until your battery goes out, or if you’re hooked up to an external power supply, perhaps an inevitable destruction of the power grid. (alternatively, I’m almost done, so you could just keep reading I guess.)
I don’t ‘get’ the communities around the various genre things that I enjoy. Whenever I’m searching for genre things, from imagery to actual content, I inevitably have to crawl through a lot of things I just don’t understand. And when I don’t understand something, like most Americans I tend to not like it.
For this, my best example would be my interest in futuristic science fiction and space travel, concepts I’m researching for some writing I’m doing (you’ll know more about this soon enough). If I search on tumblr, I’ll find a lot of Halo-styled armor suits. Sometimes, these will be drawn in a manga style. A female with large breasts will most likely show up. Literally all of those things I’m not looking for. I don’t ‘get’ it.
I’ll inevitably roll my eyes at this. “This isn’t realistic,” I’ll probably tell myself. Then I’ll realize: I’m searching for futuristic space travel. For something I’m writing. I am not realistic. I’m just a hater. At this point, I’ll check myself and move on. And I’ll make it my mission, then, to create the kind of genre things I’m looking for.
That’s where I am now: if I want something, and it’s somewhat hard to find, I’ll make that shit myself rather than dragging people of a certain subculture that know way more about it than I do. I can make my own subculture, damn it. My own genre. I could let the work speak for itself.
It’s been a journey, friends. I’ve found a source of pleasure in checking myself of judgmental habits, and it all stemmed from recognizing a lack of knowledge. It’s been fun.
TL;DR: I often like genre things but shade the communities around them because I don’t understand them, and I’m actively working on not doing that, because we all appreciate similar things so why should I be shady??
Now for you, dear reader, I have a request. Find something ‘genre’ that you like and please, please share it with me. Let me into your world. Do not be afraid of my shadiness. If you want, even tell me why you like it, and what it means to you. LET ME IN.
P.S. I’m pretty sure this is the longest thing I’ve written on this blog. Dope.
P.P.S. No life updates on this post. That’s coming soon, separately. Fun!
Originally published at Seagoat.