Do you remember how I said I like to maintain a fine sense of balance in my life, a tightrope dynamic between sardonic, black cynicism and romantic, laid back, go-with-the-flow optimism? Well, in case you forgot my emotional bipolarity, here’s another dose of the former that hearkens back to the dark, sacred (… not that sacred) origins of Express Elevator to Hell; I present a second short list of pop culture phenomena and assorted 2010s-zeitgeist items that I suspect an outright majority of the human populace enjoy on a consistent basis. These are cultural items I could go without, for the record.
The most amusing aspect of this second volume of Things You Like that I Don’t (TYLID) is how long it took for me to remember them. Part of that thought process doesn’t make any sense, but then again, one of the points of this ongoing “series” is to catalog the mundane, everyday cultural irritants that test my patience rather than drive me mad. Perhaps the difficulty in formalizing one’s dislikes is that so much of what annoys us in life are subtle irritations that hum in the background. Everyone has their own, personalized list whether they recognize it or not, and part of the enjoyment I receive from recognizing mine in writing is just that — I enjoy articulating what I like and dislike in excruciating detail, popular culture phenomena or otherwise. I just like bitching about things in writing! It’s more structured and cohesive than shouting into a microphone on another dumbass amateur podcast, I would argue.
So, let’s embrace the power of ranting, shall we? Here are a few more things I’m rather confident you (yes, you!) probably like, but I don’t. Feel free to fuck off (… or tell me to fuck off) if you disagree with my assessments. Again, this is the least happy, most negative side of my character, so don’t expect much empathy or fuzzy feelings.
- Stand-Up Comedy = This is perhaps the pop culture medium I took the longest to realize I had zero affection for. Like other items on this, previous, and future TYLID installments, stand-up isn’t a comedy format I hate so much as I find incredibly boring. Then again, dullness in the popular arts in general and comedy entertainment in particular is often considered the gravest insult or most severe criticism, so maybe I should avoid meeting stand-up comics face-to-face if they ever request feedback, which I’m sure they won’t.
- Whether live or prerecorded, I find stand-up comedy the most uninspired form of theatrical speech and drama. I love most plays and consider myself an avid musical fan, yet I can’t watch more than 5-10 minutes of a given stand-up routine without losing interest. I’ve tried so many different comics recommended to me from “comedy buffs” and pop culture enthusiasts, only to somehow miss the high on which their audiences seem to be reveling. Perhaps this speaks to my affection for the visual arts, filmmaking in particular, that watching an hour or more of a person shouting expletives into a microphone while pacing back and forth doesn’t stimulate me. If anything, listening to most stand-up artists leaves me more tired and bored than before I started watching.
- Nailing the coffin shut on any possible appreciation I might have for this profession is the modern “controversy” — should we even elevate it as such? — regarding how politically correct or incorrect comics should or shouldn’t be wherever they perform. Whether you’re Bill Maher on HBO or Dave Chapelle on Netflix’s high-profile stand-up specials, I find their contributions to the political offensiveness debate so incredibly circuitous, repetitive, and self-righteous as to be pointless. I just don’t care, even though I’ve been told many, many, many, many times I should.
- Light Beer = This one’s a quickie. Beer, like most alcoholic beverages, appeals to different people in different circumstances, judging from my anecdotal experience. I, myself, prefer beer like India Pale Ales (IPAs) with rich, juicy meat dishes such as hamburgers, polish sausages, or bratwursts; I almost never drink fermented barley and hops alone. With that in mind, I never drink “light” beer, period, anymore, and fail to understand it’s supposedly broad appeal. Drinking any sort of flavored liquid (e.g. liquid sugar like sodas, juices, and various sweetened mixed drinks) for its “reduced calories” or “low carbohydrate content” always felt counterproductive to me, as did watering down any sort of fermented beverage likened to “liquid bread.” I mean, does drinking fewer regular beers (e.g. IPAs, lagers, stouts, etc.) not make more sense to anybody besides me?
- Yoga & Meditation = I lump these two activities together since they hail from the same region of the world and have spiked in popularity in the West around the same time. It is hard to overestimate just how prevalent and commercialized these two quasi-spiritual, quasi-humanistic practices have become in the United States, alone. Yoga in particular is everywhere, no matter how small or remote your town or how limited your social circle; if your town has a single community center or YMCA, it offers multiple yoga classes. By the same token, at least one family member or friend has recommended the benefits of meditation to you, even if you have no trouble with sleep, depression, anxiety, anger management, etc. and just want to be left the fuck alone.
- I’ll go on record admitting yoga classes are a fine date option with the girlfriend and meditation works in a pinch if you’re tossing and turning at night, yet have nothing else to keep yourself preoccupied. In other words, I understand the appeal of these activities unlike, say, drinking light beer, watching stand-up routines, or eating raw kale. I still don’t enjoy yoga or meditation and avoid members of society prone to recommend them without solicitation. You know the persons about whom I speak.
- Similar to most popular arts and activities I dislike, I find both of these South Asian exports interminably boring. Trying to convince the likes of me to embrace yoga and meditation is like getting that primary school kid with ADHD to sit still in class. They’re non-competitive, slow-moving, peaceful, and maintain a heavy, quasi-spiritualist vibe in classroom settings, forums, and instruction; it’s a nightmare! Besides, how often do people clean their yoga mats?
- YouTube Channels asking me to Like, Subscribe, Share, and Follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat = Nothing feels more desperate than someone trying to convince you to help spread their social media handles or blog posts (ahem… ). This is the modern, Digital Age-equivalent of a street vendor trying to sell you their homemade goods or an amateur musician handing out their mixtapes at a club. If I like what content you’re creating on a consistent basis, I’ll subscribe to your channel. Hell, I may even contribute those fabled donations on Patreon.com if I think you deserve it. But don’t order me, or worse, beg me to do that. It’s not a flattering portrayal of you or your work, because it doesn’t let your work speak for itself.
- This is the downside to technology democratizing the means of international communication via the Internet. Everybody having a voice or a platform to preach their life’s work means that everybody has a voice. Everyone can attempt to hock their thoughts, opinions, and “YouTube Content” for as long as they want, including offering embarrassing merchandise like subscriptions to Loot Crate. I guess obliviousness to shame is a learned rather than inherited trait.
This blog series will return once I’ve tallied another list of background societal annoyances amusing and detailed enough to warrant another glorified rant. Until then, please remember to Like this post, Subscribe to the website, and share my material on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, MySpace, Friendster, a Russian troll farm, your college dorm hallway…