#2. Books Versus Movies
What You Say:
"The movie was fine, I guess, it's just that, I don't know. I mean I'm sure it's ... good ... clearly, you liked it, and that's fine, it's just ... knowing the books -- like I do -- it's kind of hard to watch the movie without thinking about all of the things they should have done. Maybe if I hadn't read the books and really gotten into them then I would have liked the movie better. Such is my burden."
What You (Unconsciously) Mean
"I read a book!"
One of my favorite things about reading a book is that I can make my own movie in my head while reading it. I can cast whomever I want, and they can sound the way I want them to sound and I'm incapable of getting it wrong, because this particular piece of art only exists if I imagine it.
One of my favorite things about seeing a movie is that it's over in two hours and I don't have to read anything.
I love reading books. And I love movies. And I'd love to live in a world where a discussion about one doesn't have to lead to a discussion about the other.
The problem with people who read and talk about books that become movies or TV shows is that they can't separate the two. I'll give you a personal example. Even though I don't like The Walking Dead, it's a show that I consistently rage-watch, I guess because I kind of like it when a bad thing is still bad ("Has anyone seen Carl? Carl's not in the cell! Carl, stay in the cell!"). Whenever I complain about the pacing of the show, or how underwritten one of the characters is, or how underwritten all of the characters are, one of the show's defenders will inevitably point out that I only have that opinion because I haven't read the graphic novel on which the show is based. If I read all of the comics, they say, then I'd like all of the characters better.
I agree. If I'd read a better version of The Walking Dead, I would probably like it. However, until such time as the Walking Dead show gets so much better that it retroactively makes the first two seasons enjoyable, I'm going to go ahead and continue not to like it.
#1. Music Today is Different!
What You Say:
"Have you listened to the shit they play on the radio? Katy Whatshername and that other one with the coal-black eyes of a shark?
Lifeless eyes. Black eyes. Like a doll's eyes.
"I can't stand it. Where'd all the good music go? When I was a kid, they made real music. Can anyone even hear me?!"
What You (Unconsciously) Mean
"I'm getting older but no one told me!"
One day I woke up and realized the pop stars on the radio were no longer making music specifically for me. It felt like a betrayal, because suddenly the radio was alienating, and it all happened sooner than it was supposed to. Something profound changed. If it hasn't already happened to you, it will. Within the next five years, it will.
That's what everyone is dancing around when they complain about music today. Music isn't getting worse, you're just getting older, and no one writes music for old people.
And I'm not speaking in a general sort of way. In a time when you thought no one actually bought music anymore, Taylor Swift's latest album is on track to sell one million copies in its first week. That's because Taylor Swift is writing music for the only people who ever bought music: 15-year-old girls.
Taylor Swift is successful because she writes songs exclusively for 15-year-old girls, an experience I am wholly unfamiliar with but one that, based strictly on her music, seems to involve being consistently shocked that sometimes people break up with other people, and also involves routinely watching boys through your bedroom window.
Two. Different. Videos.
That's life. 15-year-old girls are the tastemakers. And now that you know that 15-year-old girls are the ones who buy music, are you still shocked that you don't like what's on the radio? Was that a surprise? Are you still holding out hope that the next generation of 15-year-old girls is going to be into some really good shit? Because that's not going to happen.
Pop music does not grow and mature alongside you. The pop stars of the 90s who sang songs about chasing girls and falling in love for the first time when you were chasing girls and falling in love for the first time aren't going to suddenly start singing songs about how your liberal arts degree was worthless and it's weird that all of your friends are getting married just because you're 26 and going through that now. The Backstreet Boys will never become The Backstreet Men. All you can do is cling to your favorite artists and pray they never stop releasing new music. Also stay away from pop radio. It's terrifying out there.