Monday, May 6, 2013

10 Pieces of Pop Culture Others Seem to Enjoy More than Me

I haven't written here as much as I anticipated doing. According to Blogger I have two readers, so stay tuned and I will be posting more stuff. It just so happens I started this blog at the same time work got crazy for me.

Everybody has those pieces of pop culture they just didn't understand or seemingly enjoy for whatever reason. I got to thinking about these pieces of pop culture recently when I heard a Teenage Fanclub song playing on my iPhone. Everyone has that pop culture piece they could enjoy, but they just don't. I probably have more than 10, but if I sat around thinking of everyone piece of pop culture I don't enjoy, but probably should, I would never write anything. So here are the 10 pieces of pop culture I have never been able to enjoy and my reason for why I think I don't like this piece of pop culture.

1. Teenage Fanclub

I tend to really love jangle pop (or bands I consider to be jangle pop). R.E.M., Real Estate, Gin Blossoms, the Byrds, Guster, The Smiths, and various others. I even bought DGC Rarities Volume 1 when I was younger and enjoyed the Teenage Fanclub song on that album (Mad Dog 20/20). So logic would dictate I would enjoy Teenage Fanclub, but I don't. I have "Bandwagonesque," "Songs from Northern Britain," "Man-Made," and "Shadows." I've tried, but for some reason the jangle pop they play doesn't resonate with me and the lyrics don't generally attract me to their music. It plays like background music to me. It just doesn't mean anything and I don't enjoy it when I hear a lot of their music.

"I Don't Want Control of You" is one of the few Teenage Fanclub songs that tends to stick in my  head. You would think since I love bands influenced by Teenage Fanclub and those who have influenced Teenage Fanclub I would like them as well, but I don't. The band has three songwriters, so there are three different perspectives they write from, and I still don't like the music. It isn't offensive to me, because it's worse than that, their music (outside of a few songs) just feels inconsequential. I can't explain it. I've tried everything and just can't get into them.

2. Role playing video games (video games and board games)

I purchased a Final Fantasy game when I was 14 for the Super Nintendo. I played it for just a couple of days and then got really bored. I didn't care to buy potions and I didn't care to sail across a sea and have some wizard dude accost me trying to get me to go fight a dragon (I can't even remember what I was supposed to fight) or have some dragon pop up and want me to fight it, but I end up losing because I didn't visit the wizard for enough potion. Even the fights were sort of passive-feeling. I would stand there and throw things or use potions on the dragon or whatever enemy was lined up across the screen from me. It seemed pretty slow and dreary to me. I have tried some other role-playing video games since then and have come across the same issue. I even played "Grand Theft Auto" a lot and eventually got bored and just started killing innocent pedestrians. Perhaps that says a lot about me more than the game.

There were role-playing board games that some of my friends played. This mostly consisted of "Dungeons and Dragons." I got invited to play a few times, but it never interested me. I don't think I ever understood exactly what went on during these games and my viewing of "Freaks and Geeks" episodes were it showed them playing "Dungeons and Dragons" didn't help my comprehension much. I was never much into board games anyway, but role playing games just seemed kind of dumb to me. On a somewhat similar note...

3. Lord of the Rings

Some of these pop culture pieces I never got into and I'm sort of dismissive about it or don't understand why. Then there are others that I did partake in attempting to enjoy and am more aggressive about disliking. The "Lord of the Rings" trilogy and however many "Hobbit" movies Peter Jackson has committed himself to making are in the later category. I saw every "LotR" film, because I am open-minded and wanted to change my mind about them, but every single one of them annoyed me more than the last. They were overly-long, boring, tedious, boring, tedious, and I hated Frodo. I wanted him to be thrown into one of the pits of fire. I was cheering for Gollum to get the ring back and throw Frodo into a fire of some sort. My distaste for the character of  Frodo knows no bounds. I don't understand why he was the one who had to search out the ring. Couldn't they have found a person with quality character who wasn't completely helpless?

I like "Game of Thrones" and I have nothing against epic, long movies (though I do have a short attention span so long movies are always a bit of a test), so I would have assumed I would like these films. I watched all of the "Harry Potter" films and didn't dislike them. I watched and own nearly all of the "Star Wars" films. I am not against what is considered "geek" entertainment. The "LotR" trilogy had trees that fucking talked and carried people, there were midgets, hobbits, dwarfs, and then the ring was somehow given to the weakest, most clumsy character in the movie. The films just seemed ridiculously idiotic and overly-long. Actually, I think Frodo is my main issue with this film. He was always getting his ass kicked and then saved by someone else. I actually envied Sean Bean because he only had to film the first movie while I had to sit through all three of them because I was so willing to give the trilogy a fair shot.

Perhaps it is the trees that talk which I can't past. I'm not sure. I do know when I saw the previews for "The Hobbit" somehow I wanted to see that movie less than I wanted to see the "LotR" trilogy again. "The Hobbit" looked longer, more tedious and full of more songs (more on that later), which was an immediate turn-off for me. It's nothing against the trilogy, but the whole series just dragged on and on. I know I am probably in the minority on this, but I have zero interest in these movies and can't understand the draw. Sadly, Peter Jackson has committed to making "The Hobbit" into three movies. If I am ever kidnapped by a foreign country (and I don't know why I would be) they could threaten to show me the "Hobbit" trilogy and I would probably break fairly quickly.

4. Steven Spielberg's latest movies (as a director)

I thought about doing an entire post on "War Horse," but decided I wouldn't allow that movie to have any more effect on my life in a negative way that it already has. The latest Spielberg movies I am talking about here are "Munich," "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," "War Horse," and "Lincoln." I haven't seen "The Adventures of Tintin" and probably have no interest in seeing it. Three of these movies, not including "Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," were very highly thought of, but "Munich," "War Horse," and "Lincoln" all suffered from the same tedious and boring feeling. Spielberg is very well thought of, but I can't shake the feeling if his name wasn't on the film critics wouldn't be as kind in their reviews. Later in his career he has started directing films that are slow and not quite as interesting as they should be. I'm at the point where Spielberg could put out a 170 minute movie of a dog crapping in the backyard and critics would salivate over it. The worst of these movies is "War Horse," which is a movie I periodically debated turning off completely while watching it. I wish the horse would have trampled me in order to put me out of my misery.

Let me go movie-by-movie and explain. "Munich" was just a disappointment more than anything. It was 163 minutes long. It was a revenge film, but a revenge film with a lot of thought behind it. Like, A LOT of thought. 163 minutes of thought to be exact. The movie was exciting at times, but the ending left me flat and Spielberg can't simply direct a movie, he has to put some sort of statement into the movie also. Maybe that was his entire point of making the movie. Of all the Spielberg movies I am discussing this is probably the best one. Still, I was disappointed in it. It felt preachy and impressed with it's own gravity. Spielberg always makes it very clear when discussing a historical topic that he is making a very serious movie you should be paying attention to. Sometimes it comes off as preachy to me.

"Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull." I'm a huge fan of Harrison Ford and a huge fan of the "Indiana Jones" series, so this entire movie was somewhat of a disappointment to me. The movie came out on my birthday too, which was awesome at the time, but then it was a let-down. It was Indiana Jones v. aliens. These movies are supposed to be fun. This wasn't very much fun and they only had 19 years to make it great. Perhaps they needed more time.

"War Horse." Oh, this movie. I love animals and this seemed like a movie I would enjoy. It was not. This movie is the epitome of Spielberg at his worst. It was tedious, visually exciting, dry, and bloated. It felt like two and a half hours of a horse bouncing around from owner to owner with very little happening in the interim. At the end of the movie, I simply wanted the boy to be reunited with his horse so that the film could end. I firmly believe if this movie had been directed by anyone other than Spielberg it would not have a 77% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes. It felt somewhat manipulative of the audience's emotions and it definitely labored along. It was so dry I really almost turned it off and I am a person who has never turned off a movie.

On to "Lincoln." This was a pretty good movie. I just didn't enjoy it. I knew I was watching a quality film, but I wasn't enjoying watching the film. Much like Spielberg's work it was well-made and as close to accurate as possible to the real events. It seemed like two and a half hours (sense a trend in the Spielberg movies I don't like?) of Daniel Day-Lewis playing Abraham Lincoln. He did a fine job, but I don't know if I felt like the movie was anything more than an elaborate dress-up and historical lesson. It told a good story that I knew prior to the movie, but again I thought the script and the direction was pretty dry. I found myself wondering how far into the movie we were quite frequently. I felt like Mary Todd Lincoln's illnesses and state of mind were thrown into the movie without any sort of commitment to them simply so the movie wouldn't be criticized for not including this part of Lincoln's life.

Overall, I feel like Spielberg's latest movies have been uninteresting, tedious, overly-long and more impressed with themselves than I am with them. I'm fine with long movies, but it just has to be an interesting long movie.

5. Bluegrass

I grew up in North Carolina, went to college in the mountains and my father loved bluegrass. I should love bluegrass. It is just a bunch of banjo picking and similar sounding songs to me though. I can listen to bluegrass, but I get no feeling from hearing it and once I'm done with hearing bluegrass I forget it entirely. I tend to treat bluegrass music like Don Draper treats his mistresses I guess.

6. The Andy Griffith Show

I was part of a conversation on Twitter recently about this topic. I just never have watched "The Andy Griffith Show" and enjoyed it. I wasn't amused by Don Knotts and always got the feeling he shouldn't be such a clumsy dipshit if he was supposed to be a policeman. It just never spoke to me. It was like "Full House" without the cheesiness that I adored so much and it was "Matlock" without Andy Griffith being as sneaky. Maybe I don't like the show because many of the characters have names that I am afraid are too closely connected to the South. Names like:

Aunt Bee
Ernest T. Bass

It very well could be my Southern self-hatred that causes me to not enjoy the show. Either way, I can whistle the theme song, but I won't watch the show.

7. The Beatles

This one has a caveat. I do like the Beatles. I just don't like them as much as everyone else likes them. They were sort of a boy band and very much marketed that way. Sure, they played their own instruments and went on to break out of the boy band mold and made serious, good music together, but they all had the same haircut and outfit in the beginning and girls overwhelmingly adored them. I'm more of a Rolling Stones-type guy. Yeah, they dressed alike a little bit, but they weren't as adored by women as the Beatles were. I tend to take the Rolling Stones early work a little more seriously than I take the Beatles early work. I've been raked over the coals quite often for my opinion about the Beatles, trust me. I like them, but I don't love them. If I hear one of their songs on the radio I very well may change the station.

It's hard to talk to Beatles fans about just liking the group. They don't understand. I try to explain the Beatles made a ton of music in a very short span of time, so I believe their reputation is greatly enhanced by the fact they weren't around for a while. I also believe their reputation is enhanced by their popularity and how television helped to make them popular. Diehard Beatles fans completely fail to understand this reasoning. To me, they are sort of a pop culture marker. The Beatles arrival began "The British Invasion" and the use of television as a medium to mass market music to idiotic women. The women aren't idiots, they just scream and act like idiots.

So I don't dislike the Beatles, but recognize them as a really great band whose music I don't enjoy as much as everyone else does. They are a marker for when music and television collided. I much prefer later in their career when they became a band where each member of the band wrote their own music and they hated each other. Still, if I am being honest "Hey Jude" feels long at the end and some of the Beatles later albums like "Revolver," "Sgt. Pepper's...," "Magical Mystery Tour," and "Let it Be" simply couldn't be performed live due to the amount of overdubs and studio magic that had to go into the songs. I do tend to factor a band's live performances into my opinion of that band and the Beatles never really toured after "Revolver." They became a studio band, which is fine, but it takes away some of my interest in them.

8. Musicals

I was in Chorus from 8th grade to 12th grade. In that time, I saw my share of musicals. I saw them on film, in concert and on Broadway. All had a lot of singing and a plot that only seemed to be there to prevent the musical from simply being a bunch of songs back-to-back. I tend to believe women like musicals more than men anyway. I tried to change my mind by watching "Oklahoma," but that only reinforced my opinion of musicals and women liking musicals more than men. I thought I would be seeing a rougher, more exciting version of a musical, but it wasn't at all. It was the same old version of a movie I saw in "The Sound of Music," "The Music Man," "Seven Brides for Seven Guys" (I know that's not the name, but to give the real title would acknowledge its existence), "Les Miserables," (which I can watch and 35% enjoy), "Phantom of the Opera," and quite a few others I have blocked out. I can't stand the show "Glee" either, so there is a trend here. Speak your emotions, don't bore me with singing about them.

9. The Notorious B.I.G.

I'm all West Coast rap it seems. I have all of Biggie's albums, but I can't say I particularly enjoy the albums as much as everyone else does. Maybe it is his mumbling rap style, affiliation with P. Diddy/Diddy/Puff Daddy, or possibly it is just I don't like his music. Either way, I haven't enjoyed his music as much as others have. While Tupac's style always seemed more attacking and antagonistic, which apparently I enjoy, Biggie's music seems laid-back and lazy to me. Sort of like was just rapping because he didn't have anything else to do. Plus, any of his rhymes about women and all the sex he had (which are probably true) seem ridiculous since he has more in common with Jabba the Hutt than Lothario. He was disgustingly fat, so I always figured his idea of seduction was flashing his wallet at some skanks. I'm not entirely sure why I don't enjoy his music, but it certainly doesn't. His mumbling and overly-smooth style just comes off as lackadaisical to me. 

10. Hooters

I don't hate Hooters and certainly don't take a moral stance against the restaurant. There's really nothing in my opinion to have a moral stand against. For me, the draw seems to be getting served by a woman in tight clothing, and that's why some people will eat there. That's fine, but there are a lot of other places you can go and see women in tight clothing who may not also be wearing stockings under their outfit (which frankly makes them look somewhat ridiculous in my opinion) or trying to flirt with you for good tips. The food is pretty good, I will give them that, but as a restaurant and an atmosphere it's good for the occasional visit, but certainly not a place I would put down that I have to visit on a frequent basis. Maybe I get Dick Vitale's voice in my head now when I think about Hooters since he does commercials for them. Maybe it is that I knew a couple girls in high school who ended up being Hooters girls and that is affecting my opinion of the place. Will I eat there? Yes, if I have to. Will I eat there simply to ogle women in their outfits? Probably not. It seems sort of ridiculous to me. They are wearing tights and usually have their boobs pushed up to their collar bone. That's not my thing. The best part about the restaurant is that if you ask the waitress to hula hoop then she has to do it. I never knew this.

So these are the 10 pieces of pop culture that I don't enjoy as much as everyone else seems to. I think we all have examples of pop culture we just don't get.


  1. Well, make that 3 readers (I never update my Blogger subscriptions anymore). I like reading what you write, and we seem to be around the same age, so a lot of what you wrote in your first three posts (minus the Eagles one - never got into them) has struck a chord with me. Keep it up!

  2. FJ, thanks. I'm 32, though I feel and look younger than that. When I started writing I was younger and at some point I'm going to start feeling weird writing on the Internet (since it is a young man's game...or is it?).

    I used to love the Eagles more than I currently do. Glenn Frey's solo collection is awesomely mediocre and that's why I covered it. Glad the posts struck a chord with you. I'm planning on updating more than once a week.

    1. I'm 33, 34 next month...I think considering where we're at with blogging and our parents' generation (the Boomers) getting online, you're never too old to write on the internet :) If you have something interesting to say, write it; keep the blog up. I like your writing style and have kept a couple blogs myself in the past...with two kids and other hobbies now it's tough to write as much as I'd like to!

    2. You are probably right about that. I think my biggest issue is going to be time. It is hard to find time, especially with kids, but I don't feel or look as old as I am. I don't ever want to be that old guy trying to relate to the young kids or trying to be "edgy" on the Internet. It's a fear I have.

      I will keep this blog up. It helps lower my blood pressure from writing on BotB.

  3. Well u have 4 readers im 33 and enjoy all your stuff as well. I def agree with you on biggie i feel his death elevated him to something better then he was. Also hooters agree i dont choose where i eat based on a woman in a tight outfit but thats just me. keep up the good work

  4. Steve, thanks. What made Biggie to me is that Puff Daddy was excellent at marketing and the whole East/West beef that went on. It sold records. Tupac insisting that it was Bad Boy records (and their crew) are who shot him five times also didn't hurt. I think the beef and his eventual death elevated Biggie to a point where he is considered one of the greats. He is very good, but I don't think his music ever matched his supposed talent.

    I've been to Hooters and the food is decent. There are plenty of attractive waitresses out there who aren't dressed tightly in an outfit like they are a Christmas present. Granted, they may not openly flirt with you, but they also don't make money to openly flirt with you.

  5. You got yet another reader, I am sure there are more of us than you think. My hope and dream is that there is someone outside the world of sports that you hate as much as you hate dear George Easterbrook.

    Re: Biggie time hasn't helped Biggie as much as Tupac in regards to his rap style. A huge majority of rappers now owe their style and "game" to BIG. This probably makes him closer to the Beatles in a way because he was the poster child of gritty reboot New York style. His story telling ability at the time was unmatched in the subject area. Where other rappers seemed to be faking it to try to latch on to the hardcore grimey style Biggie came through with insider knowledge that exposed others as fakes and further cemented his claims of having actually lived it. Basically he was other rappers as The Wire was to say The Shield. Or even as Oz was to any other prison movie/show. That insight that showed on tracks like "Ten Crack Commandments" or "What's Beef" really exposed a pretty raw look at life that many had t heard at the time.

    Yet, BIG had his hits too, completely thanks to P whatever now. It was the back and forth that made him great and glamorized the lifestyle to the east coast in a way that continues to be emulated today. The grimey side reminds you that life is gonna suck while you are out on the hustle, but the glamor side reminds you that it was "all worth it" (see "Juicy" for best example). Without being in the right mindset or using the proper context it's entirely possible to view him as one of many me too rappers, while Pac had the uncontrollable charisma and anger that continue to let him stand out as time goes by (though the 97 posthomous albums dilute his legacy).

    Wow I wrote way too much about biggie my fault wasnt expecting that. Sorry for all of text.

    Also keep writing I swear you are my age, from NC, hate the same parts of the south and are sensitive about people not giving the panthers credit, it's almost like you were one of the dudes I graduated high school with back in the day. Keep up the good work


  6. A, I probably hate the show "Glee" about as much as I hate Gregg Easterbrook. I think it is an incredibly terribly written show that simply writes its characters as stereotypes as opposed to actually developing them as characters. I may write about it in my more length one day (or maybe not).

    Interesting point of view on Biggie. I know how influential he is, as Nas said on "Ether," (in reference to Jay-Z) "How many of Biggie's rhymes gonna come out your fat lips?" Of course Nas also puts himself in the same class as Biggie and Tupac, so take that's for what it's worth. I have to say, I do like some of Biggie's music, but I don't overwhelmingly enjoy it. Perhaps the Beatles are a good comparison. I can see his influence, though you definitely explained his influence better than I could, but there's something missing in his music for me. It's probably my West Coast bias. I do like "What's Beef?," even if it is directed towards Tupac. That's got a pretty great chorus. I also like "I'm Fucking You Tonight" if only for the straightforwardness of it. Still, he was morbidly obese and disgusting, so I'm not sure the idea of him fucking anything or anyone is a pleasant thought.

    I think I prefer the uncontrolled anger of Tupac and it is entirely possible the East Coast lifestyle didn't really attract me as much. I've never connected with Biggie's music as much as I feel like I should. "Oz" is actually a show I could never get into. I quit watching it after the middle of Season 2.

    I don't know why I feel like The Shield and The Wire are not as similar as other people do. You aren't the first I've heard make that comparison. I guess there are common threads, but I see The Wire as sort of standing alone. I'm sure if I thought about it I could find more common strands.

    Sadly, I like a couple of Tupac's albums after 1997. I like 2-3 of them. There are some that seem to scrape up old verses and just put them to new beats though.

    Thanks, I will try to keep up the good work. I try not to be sensitive about the Panthers, but I think I am a little bit. I was much different in high school and didn't exactly give my viewpoint as aggressively as I do now. There were no blogs back then unfortunately...