I loved the first Backstreet Boys song I heard on the radio. It was catchy and fun to listen to as I rode my bike around our neighbourhood in the summer of 1997. And then I figured out that the Backstreet Boys were a boy band and instantly stopped admitting I liked their CD. I was a serious poet, you see, and could not be seen earnestly bopping along to guilty pleasures like pop ballads.
One of the unexpected surprises of growing up was learning how freeing it is to stop believing in hierarchies. Scrambled eggs and ketchup were made for one another. Jodi Picoult’s body of work and almost every dystopian novel ever written are so much fun to read I’d rather stay up an extra hour to learn how these stories end than feel well-rested tomorrow. Sometimes the best way to wrap up a long day is by dancing to The Hits: Chapter One.
You may or may not agree with my taste in food, books or music. That’s ok. I have an aversion to olives, Inspirational fiction and Bluegrass but that doesn’t make any of these things objectively good or bad. Feeling guilty for liking the “wrong” things is counterproductive and silly.
For example, I absolutely abhorr F. Scott Fitzgerald’s writing style in The Great Gatsby. I had to read it in high school and it was all I could do to not fling that silly book out the window every time Nick pined over not being married to his snotty, deceitful (second) cousin.
Beowulf has been one of my all-time favourite tales because the poetry was beautiful and I immediately sympathized with Beowulf’s fierce desire to protect his community. Some of my classmates loved The Canterbury Tales but The Wife of Bath was the only character I found particularly amusing in that book.
Classic music or novels become classics in large part because ordinary people find universal truths in their subject matter and continue to seek them out decades after they were originally released. Today’s classics were often yesterday’s bestsellers and may have been considered “lowbrow” entertainment when they first came out.
Does this mean that I’m the final authority on what’s good in life? No, not everything can or should appeal to everyone!
Just keep your stinky olives away from me. 😉