The Science Behind Why We Hate Adam Sandler
Sandler = the Nickelback of Hollywood?
Growing up in the 90s, some things were inescapable. Adam Sandler was one of them. He was on television on “Saturday Night Live,” in your CD collection with “They’re All Gonna Laugh At You,” and in the movies with a string of hits, beginning with “Billy Madison” and ending with “The Wedding Singer.” But then, like most things people loved in the 90s, Adam Sandler took a wrong turn that he never quite recovered from.
Now, you can’t go a day without running into some internet post or news item attacking Sandler and calling him Satan’s gift to Hollywood. OK—I don’t know if he’s actually been called “Satan’s gift to Hollywood,” but it’s sure implied.
Yet if Netflix is to be believed, the world loves Adam Sandler.
If that’s true, then why don’t we?
Maybe Netflix is lying.
Netflix likes to play this game where they won’t tell anyone anything when it comes to their actual numbers. There have been third parties who have attempted to estimate how popular a show like “Daredevil” is, for example—but those estimates are usually based on small sample sizes and other sketchy means. So when Netflix says something, generally the media covers it as fact, regardless of whether or not it’s actually fact.
Cool, right? Aren’t you glad you live in an informed democracy?
So when Netflix CEO Reed Hastings talks about how popular Adam Sandler is worldwide, there’s no way of knowing if that statement is true or not.
But wait, it gets worse!
Even if we accept that Netflix has 75 million global subscribers, that’s still a small number when put into its proper context: the 3.2 BILLION people around the world with internet access.
So, it may be true to say Adam Sandler is popular with Netflix users, assuming there really are 75 million of them—but remember that that number is still small. (For comparison, consider that Donald Trump is popular among a relatively small group of 13.3 million of the US’ total population of 318 million people.)
And since we don’t know what “popular” means in terms of Netflix (Is it that a movie was added to a lot of people’s lists? Do those people actually watch it?), if I was Politifact, I’d rate Netflix’s statements about Adam Sandler’s global popularity as “Pants on Fire.”
Maybe the internet brainwashes us.
Do we hate Adam Sandler because we hate him, or because we see on the internet that other people hate him, so we jump on that bandwagon?
Back in 2012, I coined the phrase “Nickelback Syndrome.” What that means is that if we see a lot of people love or hate something on the internet, we take the same position they do because we want to be accepted.
I’m not going to judge you for this. We’re hardwired to desire acceptance from the larger social group. But it’s easy to see that syndrome play out with Adam Sandler. Everyone you know, and the media outlets you choose to read online, all hate the guy, so you hate the guy. But should you? Before you answer that question, let me throw something else at you.
Maybe we’re snobs.
There’s some serious socio-economic snobbery going on among people who hate Adam Sandler, many of whom have access to media outlets where they spread their hate. There are those people — and than there are people who just want a laugh after working a terrible job all day. So fair is fair here. The media may hate Adam Sandler, but the media, more often than not, doesn’t represent reality in all its sprawling diversity.
That’s bad news for everyone. It’s bad for Sandler because now all of these people are just hating on him for no real reason. It’s bad for you because you’re missing out on projects by him that may be good.
Maybe Adam Sandler doesn’t really suck—maybe we’re just old.
Just because I don’t enjoy something, or you don’t enjoy something, doesn’t mean other people don’t enjoy it.
The internet makes it easy to think otherwise, and it’s not OK. And all Netflix does when it makes up phony numbers and proclaims how much people around the world love Adam Sandler is antagonize the people who have doubled down on their hatred of the guy. How can their friends be wrong about Adam Sandler?
Here’s the truth of the matter: Nobody likes to get old. So if hating on Adam Sandler makes us look hip and cool to the youngins, that’s what we’re going to do. If our peers perceive us as smart and sophisticated for hating on the things we grew up liking, we’re going to continue hating.
So do Sandler’s new movies suck?
I don’t like a lot of his newer things, for sure. But then, I hated Kevin Smith’s “Tusk,” and by the looks of it, I’m not going to like his new movie “Yoga Hosers,” either. Does that somehow nullify how much I liked Smith’s earlier films, or the goodwill I have toward him? Not at all.
It’s the same deal for Adam Sandler. I’ll go back and enjoy “The Wedding Singer” just as much now as I did when I was a kid. And I’m also going to enjoy some of Sandler’s other films, the existence of which people seem to forget when they’re bashing him: “Punch-Drunk Love,” “Spanglish,” and “Reign Over Me.” Even Judd Apatow’s “Funny People” was pretty good, if a little long winded.
The science behind our hatred of Adam Sandler has more to do with herd mentality and media distortion than it does with Sandler’s films themselves.
Look, I’m not encouraging you to see the guy’s new movies on Netflix. You certainly don’t have to like him. But what I am encouraging you to do is look at the bigger picture. At the end of the day, your own opinion of Sandler isn’t based on science and logic. It’s based on emotion, and when it comes to our feelings, they’re almost always subjective.