I’ve concluded that I cannot watch, read, play, or listen to all the entertainment that I would like. There is simply far too much quality entertainment. This is a good thing, but also disappointing.
I mean, I carved out chunks of time to watch Zack Snyder’s Justice League. It’s a long, long movie. I had other things to do in my life that did not include watching gods among mortals fight the inspiration for Thanos. Still, there’s so much good stuff out right now. I mean I could never have dreamed the amount of genre entertainment that would dominate the pop culture landscape when I was in Underoos watching Saturday morning cartoons.
As a kid, I endured a sad Hulk television show, a poor Spider-Man television show, tried-really-hard-but-just-not-quite-there space shows like Battlestar Galactica and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. I suffered through terrible cartoons of all stripes from Super Friends to He-Man and the Masters of the Universe to Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends. At the time, these shows were amazing. Revisiting them in 2021 is a lesson in just how much my kid brain wanted to like these shows.
Now, it is impossible to partake of everything interesting. I can’t watch every summer blockbuster movie or critically acclaimed TV series. I can’t listen to every groundbreaking album or the latest podcast. I can’t read every new author or catch up on years of comic books. The only thing you can do is try and pick and choose what holds the most interest for you personally. You have to make choices. For instance, I simply gave up on video games decades ago.
When I was collecting and reading comics, I wanted to have complete runs. I liked knowing I had an entire story. Still, I knew that was an impossibility for many characters. I’m never going to own every appearance of Superman or even every issue of Action or Detective Comics. I learned early on that while I might have wanted every Star Wars action figure and toy, that was a pipe dream. It turned me into less of a completist and more of a curator.
What I do now is evaluate, review, and then decide if a piece of entertainment is for me. Sometimes I wait to see if a TV show is something I want to dive into, especially if I’m on the fence about it. I’m glad I never attempted to watch American Gods because it looks like it’s imploding. On the other hand, I waited a couple of seasons before watching The Expanse and have been rewarded with an incredible story. I stopped reading comics on the regular when I could no longer follow storylines or characters that interested me. I haven’t bought an actual physical copy of an album in ages. However, I am thinking about getting back into vinyl even though that seems like an expensive new hobby.
While I’m blessed with not suffering from FEAR OF MISSING OUT, I still have a ton of shows to watch and books on my shelf to read. My pop culture read/watch/listen list is endless and that’s with actively saying not to so many cool pop culture projects. I haven’t watched the Watchmen television show or the last few seasons of Doctor Who, For All Mankind, Black Mirror, Mr. Robot, The Magicians, His Dark Materials, and probably a bunch more. I probably have hundreds of comics and books I want to read, but I’m afraid there isn’t enough time.
I’m not one who “hate watches” something. I’ll criticize it, but if I’m not getting any enjoyment out of it, I’m out. I can tell you exactly what sucks about the latest incarnations of Star Wars and Star Trek, but I still enjoy what I’m watching.
On the other hand, I can go on the internet and read blogs and watch videos of “fans” who watch their favorite franchise shows and then spend hours explaining in excruciating detail why it is the worst garbage they’ve ever seen. I don’t understand people who hate everything a TV show is doing from characters to storylines to visual effects and continue to watch every episode. If it sucks that bad, why watch?
I guess some of those grizzled veterans of the 70s and 80s who watched the terrible genre movies and television hoping something magical would happen now feel that when the actual magical things are happening, they must shit on them. I’d rather find the cream of the crop. I don’t have to experience the bad with the good. I’m not a completist or a glutton for punishment. I’m a curator and I’ll find the good stuff, thank you very much.
Also, my good stuff might not be your good stuff and that’s okay. Author Austin Kleon talked about how to respond when confronted by the hate-watching complainers.
I’m a big fan of the phrase “it wasn’t for me” when asked about books (and music and TV and movies and so forth) that I didn’t get into.
I like the phrase because it’s essentially positive: it assumes that there are books for me, but this one just wasn’t one of them. It also allows me to tell you how I felt about a book without precluding the possibility that you might like it, or making you feel stupid or put down if you did like it.
“It just wasn’t for me.” No big deal.
The wonderful thing is that “me” is always changing. Every day you’re a different you. So when you say, “It wasn’t for me,” maybe it’s not for the “me” right now — maybe it’s for the “me” in the future.
Connecting with a book is so much about being the right reader in the right place at the right time. You have to feel free to skip things, move on, and maybe even come back later.
And you have to feel free to say, “It wasn’t for me.”
So, while we may be living in the golden age of genre entertainment when nerd stuff is mainstream, those complainers who liked the band/the comic/the book series before everyone else liked it are best avoided.
Find the good stuff and enjoy it. By the way, you also get to decide what constitutes the “good stuff.” Curate your own brand of entertainment and ignore the rest.
You’ll be happier about it.