A good friend told me today that something I wrote on my film blog (The Last Picture Blog)was the most arrogant thing he had ever read of mine. I said (and I'm paraphrasing him quoting me because I don't feel like going back to find the quote) that people couldn't be blamed for their taste in film because they haven't been told what to like yet. Kind of funny, and that does sound like me. But was it arrogant?
I have been told I'm arrogant, pretentious, a borderline fascist and so on. All labels that tend to me more than to them than me, but enough people have said it that I have given thought to it. I don't want to come off as arrogant, but I think having an opinion is good. I don't care if I come off as pretentious. As far as a borderline fascist -- well, not accurate but I will admit a certain fascination with the idea of keeping the rabble in line. I would probably never go to a Boyd Rice view of the world, but I can understand it.
Arrogant is defined as: 1. Having or displaying a sense of overbearing self-worth or self-importance, or 2. Marked by or arising from a feeling or assumption of one's superiority toward others. Neither of those definitions are particularly flattering. And when it comes to film and other works of art I can say I probably am arrogant and pretentious, and probably a bit of a fascist (in the artistic sense), too. I always try to be humorous about it, but honestly, I am. I am passionate about these things. I find them important. I give my opinion more weight than that of "the masses." Now that I admit that, I have to ask: Is that wrong?
If you love something, why not give it an elevated status? Why not be vocal about it? Why not belittle the "competition"? In the grand scheme of things, the only opinion that really matters is each individual's when it comes to any one thing. I have a forum where I can let my feelings be known. My opinions and thoughts should only inspire thoughts in others. Nobody should take them as anything else. So what is wrong with all this? Isn't it better to have an opinion than to be on the fence with everything? It sure as hell doesn't make for interesting writing.
I actually think I'm a pretty fair person. I know that my tastes in film, comic books, books, music and so on, don't match most people's. I'm okay with that. I won't adopt an opinion just because the majority think that (such as with this adoration of The Beatles). That's not me and never has been. If you think I should be more fair, you either haven't read enough of my work, or need to go elsewhere.
Now back to my friend. He didn't say it to be mean. In fact, I got the impression he thought it was kind of funny (I still think it is and I told one my co-workers about it and she kind of agreed with me). I think he knows me pretty well, and I also think he called it pretty good. I'm glad he brought it up to me, since this has been a problem for a few years now. (I really noticed it when people got on my case over my positive reviews and essays on Amateur Porn Star Killer.) I've been thinking about it a lot. Namely, should I try to sound less so, or should I embrace it and own it? It's isolated some readers. I know this for a fact. But at the same time, I know there are some who appreciate it. They like the fact that I think some things are just plain shit and that I can defend what I like and why I like it.
I'm staying the course, obviously. It generates opinions and is, I believe, generally amusing to read. People will continue to find me arrogant, pretentious, fascist-lite, or even homosexual (as one person once wrote after I praised French films). The problem is: As long as I'm writing people will think this anyway. Even if I'm the most bland, pedestrian, vanilla writer out there people will think it. When you put yourself into the public eye you have zero control over what people will say about you. They will misread you, misinterpret you, and hate you (or, even worse, love you). You can't control it, and you shouldn't even try. You can have fun with it, and you should let your opinion be known if you have that forum, which is the real heart of the matter to me.
I've always hated people who have had a public forum, one where people are either listening to them or reading them, and they do nothing with it. They don't bring anything new to the table. They don't inspire thought. They don't have an opinion. They aren't even really entertaining, but there they are. That has always bothered me, and if I ever end up that way, I'll pack it in and call it day for my writing.
Today was a good wake up call that I have not reached that point (thank God). I'm pretty far from it if the opinion of others is to be believed. Again, thank God.
I stick by that quote that caused this post, too. I think far too many people don't even have an opinion on things until they are told what to think be it by their friends, the media or whatever. Not everyone, but enough of them. As I said to my co-worker whom I brought this up to, "How can I be wrong? Kangaroo Jack was the number one film in the nation and Married With Children was on the air for eleven years." If that doesn't say it all, I don't know what does.