Friday, June 29, 2012

It's Okay to Like More Than One Thing

Recently, I've been hearing a lot of people talking about what they can and can't like because of some sort of loyalty or image or something, and that makes me sad. Because one of the best things about books and movies and TV shows is that there are so many of them, and you can enjoy whichever you'd like at a given moment depending on your mood and tastes and whatever else. So why impose these limits? Why not just let yourself like . . . whatever? Funnily enough, these objections often fall into two groups that look opposite:

You can like things that are similar. Loyalty is good, but a lot of fans seem to have a weird sort of loyalty that doesn't actually help anyone. We hear it all the time: "I like one Sherlock Holmes adaptation, so we shouldn't even acknowledge that this other one exists." "I love vampire series A, so I can't like vampire series B." "I love this writer/producer/actor's other show, so I can't betray it by watching the new one." Now, if you're literally saying you can only buy one book and you'll buy your favorite author rather than a new one, of course! I understand that! Likewise, if the point is that you don't have time to watch any additional show, that's understandable. But assuming you're reading (via purchase or library or whatever) or watching multiple things in general, why rule things out because they have something in common with other things you like? That does not sound like a good way to find more things you like. I promise, no author I know wants you to demonstrate your loyalty by shunning other authors in their genre, or trying to shame fellow fans you see as disloyal. (Hint: They're probably reading other authors in their genre themselves. Because they like it.) I'm not, of course, saying that you have to like anything, but give it a try! Think about it this way: if many properties in a genre or subgenre are popular, that will help your favorite by getting more attention, marketing, etc. for things in that genre all around.

You can like things that are different. This is sort of the opposite issue: People so often say they won't try something because they watch HBO and it's on CW, or because they like YA books and it's labeled as adult fiction, or because something else about the marketing doesn't fit with their self-image. And, you know, maybe you won't like it! You like what you like! But if you hear about a book that grabs your attention, say, don't rule it out because it's shelved with adult books and you've decided that only YA books are any good. (Yes, really, I hear this a lot.) Try it from the library! It's free! What could it hurt? At worst, you'll read a little, decide you really don't like it, and set it aside, and you'll have invested a few minutes of your time into generating an informed opinion.

So basically . . . let yourself try things, and let yourself like what you like, for whatever reason, and don't worry about whether some outside set of criteria or rules of fandom say you "should" like it or not.

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