Thursday, May 10, 2012

Thwarting Intellectual Snobbery

Ok, so we all know that everybody has pet peeves.  Some are ridiculous (case in point: I totally can't deal with it when my clothes or linens smell like food, so I close all the bathroom and bedroom doors before I cook dinner), and some are legit.

One thing that has generally driven me up a wall is intellectual one-upmanship.  You know what I mean: the "Oh, you read that?  I find it insulting to my intelligence."  Or "You're referencing a TV show?  I never watch television of any sort, and I only watch artsy, independent, foreign films."

Personal faves, those lines. 

When I was younger, I used to try to keep up with these people.  I felt overwhelmed by the need to defend my intelligence.  Even if I knew that I was just as smart as, if not smarter than, the people claiming to be at the very top of the intellectual food chain, their one-upmanship would make me feel totally inadequate.  (That, of course, is exactly what it was designed to do -- and it worked.)

In recent years, though, I've stopped caring as much.  I still feel the pang of "Hey, that's not fair!" whenever someone tries to start an intellectual pissing contest, but as I've gotten older I haven't felt like making the effort to defend myself or engage in their one-upmanship.  
I'll never win at that game, because no one ever does when dealing with someone who's so wholly determined to prove their superiority.  

The fact is, I love -- nay, adore -- all manner of things that a lot of people think are completely vapid.  

What's more is that I now get a huge kick out of owning my love of such things.  I also get a huge kick out of seeing the reactions of the smarter-than-thou crowd when I 'fess up to my love of People magazine.

So, with that, I decided to make a list of all the intellectually bankrupt things I love:

1)  I've read a bajillion criticisms of Eat, Pray, Love, most of which involve people saying that it insulted their intelligence and that they got dumber just by reading the first chapter.  By contrast, I freaking loved it.  I loved every minute I spent reading it.  My copy is dog-eared all over the place, underlined, and extremely well-loved.  It's one of my favorite books, and I re-read it all the time.

2)  I don't care that celebrity gossip is vapid -- in fact, that's precisely why I love it.  It's brain candy, except that it doesn't actually rot your brain.  After years of resisting its allure and echoing sentiments like "I could never read such crap," I started reading it in grad school to give myself a break from all the dense articles I was slogging through.  I never looked back.

3)  Seriously, folks: BAD TELEVISION IS A GODSEND.  Want to know how I love to spend my Friday nights?  I can assure you: it doesn't involve artsy, independent films filled with moral ambiguity, complex character development, or plotlines focusing on how irrevocably messed up the world is.  It does involve The Soup and Fashion Police.  You'd better believe that my week ends on a high note when it's in the company of Joan Rivers and "Starlet or Streetwalker?". 

4)  Speaking of artsy, independent films, it's generally my view that "artsy and independent" are code for "depressing and disturbing."  There are a few exceptions to this, clearly -- but barring those outliers, I'm NOT on board with movies that leave me feeling like all my internal organs have been ripped out.  I like my entertainment to be entertaining.  For me that involves humor, romance, explosions, or some combination thereof.  If it makes me an idiot, then this idiot will go hang out with a collection of movies that don't make her want to cry her eyes out for the next four days.

There you have it, friends: the definitive guide to thwarting intellectual snobbery by embracing one's love of fluff.  Now I have some TMZ to read...


  1. And this is why you are my designated date to all manner of tweeny-bopper movies featuring sparkly vampires, flying wizards and whatnot.

  2. oh my god! I think we were seperated at birth! I HATE intellectual snobbery! Here in CPH a lot of people at work say, when I ask if they've watched an episode of something, 'oh no- I don't even have a tv...i don't have time between reading the encyclopedia and the economist to lower myself to watch Bones'. Makes me want to barf!
    A few months ago I was at Friday Bar at work and stumpled across a group of people chatting- I listened at the edge of the group and they were talking about reading the newest existential musings of some author (who probably wears only black, wears a fedora and smokes filterless cigarettes). I immediately tried to leave because well...I don't read shit like that. Unfortunately, someone asked me- what is the latest thing you've read? I thought about it for a second and thought 'I have nothing to be ashamed of' so I said 'the latest book I read was 'In bed with a rogue' and they all looked at me as if I had sprouted two heads. I mean, WTF? Life and the world can be so depressing- if I need to re-read Harry Potter and buy tons of romance novels then why judge me? If people want to read existentialist novels about the depressing state of life: GREAT! Congratulations!
    As you say, I like my entertainment to be entertaining- take me away from my daily life. Harry Potter, Romance Novels, Action Movies, Romance Movies, White Collar, Castle and many others make me laugh and I can only be grateful for that:)

    Anyhoo, thanks for a great blog!!!