By Joe Frost
I’m probably the most street person ever. I like things which other people don’t, right up until the moment other people like them. Then they suck.
I’m not a hipster. I don’t really know exactly what a hipster is, but I do know they don’t like things other people like either. But they’re just copying me. It’s probably why people don’t like hipsters – it’s easy to see they’re trying to ride on the coat-tails of my street-ness.
(Photo by Jack Newton, Wikimedia Commons)
That said, the following are a series of admissions I will make which will possibly destroy my cred. Because, you see, there are plenty of things I really do love which other people love too. And I can’t even claim to have liked them first, because these are all things I actively mocked for how crap they were.
Right up until I started liking them…
This first admission is something of a half-arsed admission. Because I hated the Twilight book. Well, I hated what I read of it.
I’ve read far too many popular books to just assume a widely-read book is immediately terrible. Harry Potter was awesome. Roald Dahl didn’t write a bad word. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was a series that got progressively worse but I think it’s fair to blame the decline in quality on the author dying before finishing the second and third books.
So I was willing to give the Twilight books a go. My housemate loaned me her copy of the first book and I got stuck in. Easy and lame joke to make about a vampire book but man, did it suck!
(Photo by FreeDigitalPhotos.net)
“Edward was so dreamy. His eyes were a golden hue, reminiscent of an apple – which is the kind of fruit Adam and Eve ate in the Garden of Eden before being thrown out because it was forbidden. Just like our love.
“Then I went to school the next day and his eyes were bluish grey. The same bluish grey of the sea – much like our love was as deep and endless as the sea. Also, Edward was still totally dreamy.”
After over a hundred pages of descriptions of Edward’s eyes, the next plot development was Bella off to watch the Cullens play baseball. At which point, I was out. The world’s most boring book was about to tackle the world’s most boring sport. I just put it down.
So what changed?
A month or so later when my housemate asked if I wanted to go see the movie, I was understandably hesitant. But it was half price Tuesday and I love the movies in general so I went along.
At the film’s completion, she turned and asked the million dollar question.
“So, what did you think?”
Through gritted teeth and my eyes ablaze with self-hatred I replied, “it was awesome.”
Turns out the baseball scene was the start of the story actually becoming interesting, because other vampires turn up and people start getting killed – things which make vampire stories worth getting involved in.
Then there was the casting of Robert Pattinson, making all Stephanie Meyer’s descriptions of how hot Edward was unnecessary. Man, that pale, big-haired guy really does have eyes which change colour with his moods. Totes dreamy.
It didn’t convince me to pick up the books again. And the second film was so bad I haven’t bothered to see the third or fourth. I blame it on Taylor Lautner getting a bigger role. He is just terrible – like, Cobie Smulders terrible.
But that first Twilight movie was a good ‘un.
If there was a song on the airwaves last year that was immediately stuck in your head, odds are Bruno Mars sang it.
(Photo by Mikhail Evstafiev, Wikimedia Commons)
His debut album Doo-Wops and Hooligans had a ridiculous number of singles, including “The Lazy Song”, “Marry you”, “Grenade” and “Just the way you are”. If you check the album’s Wikipedia page, every song on the album (bar two) has, in turn, its own Wikipedia page.
On top of that, Mars had also featured on B.o.B’s “Nothin on you” and Travie McCoy’s “Billionaire”.
Mars was, and continues to be, everywhere. Just another pretty face with a pretty voice, I figured. An enormous fluff piece who had been selected by the music media to make it big, based on the image created by the team behind him, rather than actual talent.
So what changed?
I may have already damaged my credibility pretty badly when I previously admitted my love of The X Factor. Anyway, I was sat down for an evening of hating Tulisa, cringing at Louis, ogling Kelly and admiring Gary (possibly there would be some music in between all this). Bruno Mars was the musical guest for the night.
Literally everything about the performance blew me away. The Motown costumes and the backing band who not only danced but could actually play – and well – was a great start.
But Mars was front and centre and there was no question, it was his show. By far the best part was his James Brown-style breakdown. Holy shit, can that guy dance! He may not have gone all out and done the splits but he did everything else. It was awesome.
A little upset at how much I had enjoyed a performance by someone I had so actively hated previously, I made a point of looking in to just who this Bruno Mars character was.
Turns out, he not only sang on the above songs, he also wrote or co-wrote all of them. He also co-wrote “Fuck You” by Cee-Lo Green. Basically every catchy song of the last two years he had written, produced and/or performed on.
I got my hands on Doo-Wops and Hooligans and whacked it on my iPod. It wasn’t really for me, but I can’t deny the amount of respect I’ve got for him. I don’t want to put him on a ridiculous pedestal too early on in his career (though the temptation to make Prince comparisons is there) but his strike rate so far is pretty damn impressive.
(Photo by jimieye, Wikimedia Commons)
The post-script here is that the blow was somewhat softened when I was talking to my former boss’s teenage daughter about my new-found love of Bruno. I explained the tipping point was seeing his performance on The X Factor.
“You mean when he wore that red suit? I hated that!”
I was so happy – maybe I liked something other people like but at least they didn’t like him for the same reason I did.
That salvages me some cred, right?
The Hunger Games
This was one I didn’t actively hate so much as think of as beneath my consideration.
Though I’ve obviously covered the way I did like the first Twilight film, I also covered my complete disdain for the three which have followed. A fifth is due out this year. I will not be paying money to see it.
So when word was out of a Twilight-style series of books being made in to a film series, I didn’t bother reading any further. I think the only story I did read about The Hunger Games was by someone outlining why she wouldn’t be going to see it (which, for the record, was pompous and self-righteous – compare Katniss to Martin Luther King Jr and Ghandi, surprise, surprise, she doesn’t come up favourably).
(Photo by Vdkdaan, Wikimedia Commons)
So what changed?
One evening I was in a spot of trouble with the Missus. Who knows what happened. Could have been her fault by not hanging up a wet towel or it could have been mine by not actually doing anything else at all remotely helpful with our living situation.
Anyway, found myself having to get out of the house. Drinking heavily was my favoured option, followed by going to the movies. Luckily, my bag can hold four bottles of beer (now whose bag is feminine?) so I was in a position to do both. I loaded up and headed to the flicks.
(Photo by FreeDigitalPhotos.net)
The Hunger Games was the only thing showing and I felt beer would soften the blow of its inevitable suckiness. Tuned out I didn’t need the beer, although that probably applies to all situations in my life (I choose not to apply it).
A week later I walked past a book store selling the trilogy for £8. You couldn’t buy the paper and ink for that kind of money (I assume, I’m not sure what the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan did to paper and ink prices).
Making time to read hasn’t been a priority in my life of late and, as a result, I’d read perhaps a single book in the last year. I read all three Hunger Games books in around a week.
You know how they have to end – all three books are written in first-person, present tense from the perspective of the main protagonist, Katniss Everdeen. However it was the middle section of all three books (and the film, since it was my first taste of hunger) which was pleasantly unexpected.
Being a young-adult series meant it couldn’t be out-and-out violent but, considering the premise of The Hunger Games is that 24 children go into the arena and only one person survives, the way author Suzanne Collins went about killing off the various characters along the way was perhaps the best part.
(Photo by pseudoplacebo, Wikimedia Commons)
The fact the only people I can talk to about the books are my little sisters would usually be embarrassing, particularly since I’ve got three brothers. But for anyone who’s not on The Hunger Games train, it’s their loss.
The Big Bang Theory
Another sitcom from the guy who made Two and a half men – a series which was entirely dependent on its star’s asserted personality as a substance-abusing sleaze to be funny. It’s not that The Big Bang Theory wouldn’t be funny so much as it couldn’t.
Creator Chuck Lorre surely just had a bunch of mean jokes he wanted to crack about people far more intelligent than he but discovered when he made them these intelligent types cut him down. So instead of actively teasing nerds, he made nerds the stars of the show so they could crack the jokes – then it’s not vindictive.
The central cast alone was so predictable – a whiny guy with glasses, a short Jew, an Indian and someone suffering pretty severe Asperger’s. Bring in an out-of-their-league blonde as the glue to bring it all together and you’ve got a TV show I don’t want to have anything to do with.
So what changed?
I saved this one til last because it’s far and away the most damaging to my cred. I’m a tertiary-educated gentleman who attended one of the finest schools in Australia (the other convicts looked on enviously at our jumpsuits and slightly smaller balls and chains). Furthermore I edit an online magazine which calls its pop culture section ‘people = idiots’.
Saying I find The Big Bang Theory funny is damaging, so I was intentionally vague in my bio. But here it comes… The other day I belly-laughed at a line in BBT. It wasn’t the first time I’ve done this. And it wasn’t even a new episode. I belly-laughed at a re-run.
(Sandra Bullock is pretty great.)
I’ve got a number of reasons why I’ve caved to Lorre’s comedy stylings, and a debilitating illness is the top of my list.
See I spent a large portion of last year travelling South America. After the better part of four months travelling relatively well, I contracted a blood illness which my GP dad diagnosed via email as “viral arthritis most likely”. Shortly after receiving this email we crossed the South American continent – from Buenos Aires in Argentina to Baños in Ecuador – on buses.
Covering 4500kms on an aeroplane can be uncomfortable. Doing it on buses is considerably worse. Doing it all while having an illness in which your wrists, knees and feet are in agonizing pain just plain sucks. Having arrived in Baños we found a hotel with a comfortable bed and I spent the next ten days taking full advantage of said bed.
The hotel also had cable TV which, in South America, means plenty of Spanish language channels and half a dozen which show the same movies on repeat but have plenty of Chuck Lorre comedies. So, for those ten days, I absorbed BBT like a filthy, self-loathing sponge. I was sick, leave me alone.
Now, despite having access to England’s impressive array of Freeview channels, I watch BBT most days. It’s daytime TV so I can excuse this by saying, honestly, that the competition’s not really there. But you don’t belly-laugh at shows which are there as background noise.
And you definitely don’t form opinions on the stars of the show (I think Kaley Cuoco is a young Jennifer Aniston – TV hot but has no business making it on the silver screen) if you aren’t a fan.
(Photo by Savil95, Wikimedia Commons)
There you go, my cred on a pyre. You are more than welcome to set fire to it and dance around.
Me, I’m off for a shower which is sure to last several hours. I’m dirty and I suspect it won’t come off.
For things Joe used to love but is developing anger toward, check out Credibility for sale – 4 icons who just want cash
Meanwhile, for more things Joe digs, see 6 things I love about England