I'd like to say something intelligent, but you already included it all in your post, so all I'm left with is:
That's pretty much what I was going to say. So: seconded.
Excellent! This is all stuff I wanted to post, but haven't had the time. Now I don't have to! I can just link. Thanks!
If a specific person I like and respect asks "what do you see in that?" and it seems to be an honest question, I may try to answer. (I put it that way because even people I basically like and respect have blind spots, and they can lead to profoundly unsatisfactory conversations: the sort where the person is looking to hear "I don't really like that, I like this other thing that you consider okay" or "No, I don't like that, what gave you that idea?")
If the question doesn't seem honest, I don't owe it an answer. Or if it's honest but not respectful: people who come at things from the assumption that their judgment must be better than mine (because I like Category X, or because I am not male or not an academic or simply not them) may well honestly believe that, but it's going to make the conversation frustrating.
"What do you see in that?" can be immensely useful. papersky
has been going into some detail on what she sees in Patrick Rothfuss's The Name of the Wind
, and while it doesn't make me like the book, it at least provides edifying discussion.
"What do you see in that?"
is rather different.
2011-06-16 12:41 am (UTC)
For whatever reason, this seems to happen less with TV. If you come home tired after a long day and want to watch brainless TV, people understand that. But if you want to curl up with a good book, it's just not seen the same way. Reading seems to be automatically defined as a virtuous activity. I never hear 'I wish I had time to watch more TV,' like I do with people wishing they had more time to read.
I think that because reading is seen as good for you, arguments pop up about which books are more good for you. It aggravates me, because while books certainly can be important and mind-expanding, with insight into vital social issues, they don't have to be. Books can just be a fun, good read, and I totally agree with you that that should not have to be justified.
Yah, there is TV that is doing well at its art form just as there are plays or books or songs that are doing well at theirs, and on the one hand it's a little frustrating to have it assumed that all TV rots the brain. But on the other hand, hurrah for not having to assume that everything must be dire, dreary virtue.
I get frustrated when people assume any nonfiction I read must be dire, dreary virtue. Occasionally it is. Mostly I just like nonfiction.
2011-06-16 02:30 am (UTC)
It's the opposite for me. Any TV at all has to be justified and explained, and it's hard. (Why am I watching Top Gear, anyway?)
Because TV rots the brain, you know.
(I should point out that I finally got an HD TV, to replace my 1986 tube TV, this spring. And a Netflix account. Yeah, my instinctive reaction is that TV is junk, but there's some fun junk out there, and some stuff that's good in some ways, especially documentaries.)
But then, I've always accepted and understood books as for fun.
It's that they have a shtick. You are not required to care about their shtick.
What bothered me most about the dark YA criticism was the claim that all YA is increasingly dark. THat's just not true; I know this because I'm not personally all that fond of extremely dark novels and yet I find no shortage of new YA to read.
This is like the critic of fantasy who claims that all fnatasy novels are Tolkien-style epics, and then rips them down for being boring and derivative. There are at least three points they're missing. One is that, as you say, some people just enjoy Tolkienish epics, and that's a valid preference. Another is that lots of stories may resemble Tolkien in being of an epic character but then go off to do different and interesting new things. And the third is that there's a whole lot of other stuff out there, and by claiming it's all alike they're actually missing most fo it.
Sure, that's very true. But there are a million articles in newspapers like the New York Times that are essentially, "My next-door neighbor says, and my sister-in-law agrees, that something I'm going to blather about is a trend, even though I could actually do research and find that it is not." It's fine if we want to rise to logical defenses against these articles, but I think it's even better to recognize the class of journalism involved, whether it's talking about dark YA or 4-year-olds Gone Wild or what.