Fit For Print: Stop It with the Elitism

By : Steve Blanchard
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We live in a weird time. That may be the understatement of the year if I were talking about the political world here and abroad or even the amazing technological advances that seem to make it into the headlines almost every day.

I’m talking about the odd social world that permeates our everyday lives, either in person or through our computer and cell phone screens. This new (or maybe not so new) elitist trend of making a public point of sharing our dislike of popular things and making a big deal about it has got to stop. It’s exhausting and a waste of energy.

One case in point: HBO’s “Game of Thrones.”

I’ve overheard numerous people proudly say or post on social media about how the have never seen “not even one episode. Not. One. Ever.” It’s a statement people applaud or high-five over.

Well, okay. Good for you, I guess?

This elitist take on something others enjoy is pointless and just ridiculous. I’m not saying we shouldn’t share that we’re not invested like others are or that we have a different opinion on something. That’s how conversation works. But to do so in a way to disparage or insult someone with a passion is just, well, stupid.

Other easy targets seem to be the Marvel Universe or any popular musician who’s in town for a concert. People talk or post about how they are the “only LGBTQ person” not at a concert or in a movie theater during a big premiere.

Here’s a secret: no one cares! There is a point of pride of being in that minority or the apparent victim of some self-proclaimed loneliness.

I can only assume there is some kind of twisted joy in making that announcement—otherwise, why even make statements like these? But it’s something I just don’t understand. Maybe my perspective has changed with age, or maybe it has something to do with my non-combative personality.

Pop culture is an odd animal. Often, a phenomenon will enter into our culture and have a fan base that lasts years or even decades. On the other side of the spectrum, things that gain popularity are sometimes looked back on years later as a kind of comic relief. Pet rocks come to mind. So do the Milli Vanilli cassette tapes I used to own. Okay, if I’m being honest, I probably still have them in a box somewhere.

The lip-synching pop duo is comical today, yes, but it was music I enjoyed as a teen that will still transport me to specific time and place in my life. Pet rocks were admittedly before my time, but I’m sure they were popular for a reason and are a cherished memory for those who owned one.

My point is we shouldn’t mock others for enjoying something that we simply aren’t interested in. It doesn’t hurt me when someone is into the new “Star Wars” film or the film franchise’s upcoming expansive exhibit at Disney World, for example. Staying in that same vein, my nerdy excitement over the renewal of “Star Trek: Discovery” or Fox’s “The Orville” has zero impact on someone who is more excited about new season of “The Bachelorette” or the next boy band appearing on late night television.

Elitism is a strange human behavior that is only exacerbated by social media. Placing oneself on a pedestal simply because of a lack of supposed conformity is obnoxious—and if we’re being honest, it’s anti-diversity.

From my perspective, the LGBTQ community is surprisingly and extremely guilty of this. Being proud of one’s individuality is respectable. We are all unique, after all. But attacking or belittling others, whether they are in the community or not, is a waste of energy and really goes against what the whole equality movement is about.

Using myself in the following scenario, let me ask this: How can I be an outspoken, proud supporter of transgender rights and equality and promote myself as an open-minded ally who supports discussion, when at the same time I shame someone else for enjoying a form of entertainment that happens to feature dragons, dwarves and characters with difficult-to-spell names?

I understand that on the surface, the two positions are very different socially. One is a basic battle for fundamental rights of our fellow neighbors. The other is strictly about a hobby or a preference of entertainment. But the diverting actions from the same individual are confusing and only lessen any arguments I may have as a supporter of, well, anything really.

Doesn’t diversity come in all different forms? True, we typically think of race, sexuality or gender identity when that term is used. But it can—and should—embrace so much more.

So go and enjoy your “Game of Thrones” viewing parties and discuss whether the end of the series was amazing or disappointing. Dance along with all the other music lovers during that concert that others may not be interested in. And for God’s sake, if you’re just not interested in something, don’t try to make yourself some kind of weird martyr.

Just let people enjoy what they want to enjoy.

Your disinterest in what others enjoy or have a passion about is way more uninteresting than you might expect.

Steve Blanchard is the former editor of Watermark and currently works in Public Relations. He lives in Tampa with his husband and their two dogs.

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