Saturday, September 21, 2013

I may not know what I like, but I know what I don't like

That's become something of a catchphrase to me as of late, because I find myself constantly questioning whether or not I enjoy something in retrospect.  More often then not, I find myself coming across stuff I don't like or didn't care for being more apparent in re-watchings or re-readings or replayings of certain TV shows, movies, books, video games, etc.  Thing is, when it's something I never liked from the start, that part I never question, even if I can't fully justify why I didn't like it.  It made me feel weird and uncomfortable, so I don't like it.

Now, before I continue, I just want to say this isn't a cry for attention (that's honestly a LOT more trouble then it's worth), nor is it me just ranting and bitching about stuff I don't like it.  This is also not me suggestion everyone should like the same thing, that's just ridiculous; having different opinions and different points of view can enlighten others and broaden our horizons to new things and ideas we might end up liking!  This has become something that's been consuming me for a while now, and it's only until recently that I've decided to say something about it like this.  Hopefully, some of you have similar stories to share.  Continued after the break:

So first off, there's a new show on Disney Channel called Wander Over Yonder, created by Craig McCracken, the creator of Cartoon Network shows The Powerpuff Girls and Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends.  Craig has said that he wanted to make a show reminiscent of the Looney Tunes cartoons of old, something that's unashamedly silly and "cartoony".  He has also said that this series is less "good vs. evil" and more "love vs. hate", basically making Wander and impossibly nice guy who sees the good in everyone and always tries to do the right thing.  From the very first episode, this immediately clicked with me, and I adore it to death, to the point where it might actually be my new favorite show now!  Heck, not only did I immediately "get" the character dynamic that Craig set up and the message he wanted to get across, I just love this show in general, because it feels like such a breath of fresh air compared to the more cynical, mean-spirited shows shown these days, where everyone is expected to make snide, down-putting comments to each other like it's nothing.  It really felt awesome to watch this show, and it just made me feel all-around happy whenever I thought of it!

...Then a few days ago, over on another forum I go to, someone made this comment (the forums aren't working for me, so I'm going to paraphrase it a bit):

"Well that was disappointing.  Wander was ughhh.  He's like a new Spongebob.  Lord Hater was dumb.  I thought the shark guy was cool, though."

Now don't get the wrong idea, this is not me getting into a fit just because one single solitary person didn't like the show.  It's not ever a random stranger either, I've known this guy for some time.  Heck, I even replied back, saying why I thought it was good and deserved a second look, but after that, it sort of hit me: would giving the show another change REALLY change his mind?  Would he really try to see the love, effort, and creativity put into this show, the same way I do?  Hell, just how was I able to see this and say it's better then most of the other shows I see?

And that's the issue that's really what I'm trying to get at here, something that's been consuming my thoughts for a long time now: how come people can't see what I see?  I know we're all different and we all take in things differently, and form different opinions because of that, but how can it be that we see the same exact thing and arrive at completely different conclusions?  Can't he see what I enjoyed about it?  I don't want to divulge TOO MUCH into what he said, but basically, it made me want to internally justify why I liked it, which is hard to do, because the show's best feature is it's comedy, and if someone doesn't laugh at it...  well, it's hard to justify why you thought it was funny.

Now before you inevitably go and say that I really AM just bitching about someone not liking a show I like, I want to share with you the inverse of this happening.  See, I recently had a bit of a...  "debate", I supposed I'd call it, over Equestira Girls vs. Iron Man 3.  They're completely different movies to be sure, but I basically said, on a critical level that Equestria Girls was about slightly above average while Iron Man 3, while not perfect, was a solid movie.  The person I was debating with said that Equestria Girls was far better then I gave it credit for, while Iron Man 3 "was a mess" and they found a lot of things to hate about it.  I kept going back and forth trying to justify it, though in the end, I had to admit it was probably just personal preference at this point (though the debate SOMEHOW kept going until I flat out said that we should stop).  Then I saw this video:

While DigiBrony admitted that the story was a mess and then went on to say why HE PERSONALLY loved the movie, it just hit me again, but in a different why: these people, they find so much to love about this movie, why can't I love it the same way they do?  My problem isn't with the movie so much as my inability to see the good points of the movie.  The part that really got to me was when he went on about how he loved the character designs, while I think the character designs aren't that good, ESPECIALLY in light of the absolutely perfect (no seriously) adorable pony designs Lauren Faust made.  I mean, yeah, I LIKED seeing the movie animated, but it was like I was only meeting it halfway.  What kills me, though, is that the writers and guys behind this movie said that this was mean to be something of a love letter to the Bronies, that the human designs were based on the humanized pony fan-art Bronies made, the intro is like something you'd see out of a fan-made track or animation, the movie is littered with dozens of shout-outs, not just to the show but to certain other things the Bronies would like...  but to me, it just all fell flat!  It didn't "click" with me, the same way Craig McCracken and Wander Over Yonder did.  Personally, I'd say it MIGHT have something to do with execution, since I find Meghan McCarthy's talents to be rather subpar, while Craig McCracken has two Emmy-award winning/nominated shows behind him AND he's a genuine talent when it comes to cartoons and comedic timing.

But this leads me to another point, something I've also been thinking about: how can you tell when something's authentic?  How can you tell when something truly transcends onto it's audience?  I mean, even well-made things made by people who know what they're doing tend to have people miss the point about it, and people also managed to find SOMETHING of worth in things that barely have that much thought or effort put into them.  The most relevant example I'm thinking of at the moment is The Amazing Spider-Man, that is, the new non-Sam Raimi Spider-Man movie.  Basically, critics and fans have been tearing the movie out for being pretty much what it was, a movie less interested in telling a good story, having good visuals, or even making money, and more interested in making another Spider-Man movie so the movie-making rights don't get taken away from Sony and go back to Marvel and Disney.  And yet, a lot of people enjoyed it, to the point where they'd defend the movie for being average.  Like, they don't want critics to acknowledge that it's good or great, but because it's average!  See, even they found something worth enjoying out of a movie that didn't actually seek to entertain people.  So what are the odds that something's going to connect with me or anyone else?

Yeah yeah, I know what you all are going to tell me, to just like what I like and not let anyone tell you otherwise.  Well, my friend, I'm afraid that's easier said then done, ESPECIALLY when people take opinions so seriously on the Internet, to the point of actually insulting people who like or dislike a certain thing.  Just admitting that you enjoyed Equestria Girls on any give My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic forum or blog is enough to get you hated on, called you stupid, saying you're a suck-up to Hasbro, or...  pretty much treated as anyone who admits to still liking The Simpsons or saying you liked Family Guy after season 3.  Heck, it's the same for people who DON'T like Equestria Girls, you'll be instantly branded as a hater, in what seems to be a reflexive defense mechanism by Bronies since they're so used to being under attack by people who didn't like the show (or people who didn't care for the show who were ALSO branded as a hater, because apparently it's a mathematical improbability that someone watched the show and neither enjoyed it or hated it [sarcasm]).  Basically, what happened in My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic after season 3 has changed the fandom dynamic, and divided people to the point where it's not what the SHOW does that makes people want to quit, it's the FANDOM and it's constant, relentless attacks on each opposing side that make people want to quit.

See, it doesn't matter if you have a thick skin or whatever bullcrap you use to justify this kind of thing, too much of this constant disarray is going to negatively affect you.  And there's a limit to how much anyone can take of this kind of thing.  It's totally understandable for people to not want to have to put up with it anymore and just up and leave.  Thing is, I...  don't want to leave the MLP:FiM fandom.  While I certainly have a lot I don't like about what they did with the show and Equestria Girls, I still want to see this through to the end, and more importantly, I want to TRY and enjoy myself watching the show.  But like the title says, I may not know what I like, but I know what I don't like, and I hope that there are few things that I don't like in season 4...  By the same token, I hope Wander Over Yonder continues it's streak of hilarious and heartwarming episodes, and regardless of what anyone has to say, I love this show, and I really wish people could see what makes it so good...

*sigh*...  Well, I'm kind of glad I got that out...  I just know people will not read it and assume the worst about why I wrote all this...  Really, all I want is to reach an understanding with people; we don't have to see eye-to-eye, just understand where we're both coming from and "agree to disagree".  I know there are some people out there who feel the way I do, so hopefully this will come off as a "you're not alone" to those people.  Now, since I'm in a bit of a dour mood, I'm gonna watch some Wander Over Yonder to pick me up!

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