We all know the feeling. Those things you just cannot stand. They keep you awake at night. They make your skin crawl. They awake a hatred within you that you haven’t known since the checkout machine said there was an unexpected item in the baggage area. Go on, put it in Room 101.

Recently, a lot of people seem to have developed a sense of elitism surronding their interests. It is as if they are part of some mystical, unwritten but all-known competition to be the “truest” fan of whatever they happen to be interested in. You know what I’m talking about: “Oh, so you like this band that I also like? Name all of their members.”

Fan of a TV show? That’s cool, but do you know the name of the executive producer’s second spouse and which episode they had a cameo role as the main character’s fleeting love interest turned international spy in? Thought not. I do. Love Starry Night by Van Gogh? Well you’re not allowed to – unless you know which particular starry night he painted it on, and which stars are in the painting, and the name of at least 28 more Van Gogh paintings. Sorry, I don’t make the rules of the competition, that is just how it is. Guess you’re not a true fan of his like I am.

“Don’t try to tell me you’re better than me because of your particular interest.”

Well sorry, but there is nothing wrong with liking something without knowing anything about it, or its background, or its creator. Love Smells Like Teen Spirit but never listened to another Nirvana song? That is totally fine. Who cares. Your liking of that song is made no less legitimate by the fact that you aren’t familiar with their back catalogue. If you do happen to know loads about an artist or author or whatever it happens to be, then great! That’s cool. I’m happy for you to tell me more about it; enlighten me, and educate me, and interest me. But don’t make me feel inferior just because I have slightly different tastes to you.

And this type of thing seems to be especially prevalent amongst people who like “high”, “obscure” or “under-appreciated” areas. So what if you have read all of Chaucer and can analyse the aspects of realism and relativism in The Canterbury Tales? My favourite book’s Winnie the Pooh but I’m still a fan of great literature.

“Love Starry Night by Van Gogh? Well you’re not allowed to – unless you know which particular starry night he painted it on, and which stars are in the painting.”

So what if you’ve read the book? I’ve only seen the film. And guess what, I thought it was great in its own right. I’m pleased for you, I hope it was a great experience. But maybe I just want to appreciate it because it looks nice, or maybe I read five pages and hated it. Don’t try to tell me you’re better than me because of your particular interest.

I bet I could wipe the floor with you in a quiz on The Lion King. And even though it’s your favourite film, I’m not gunna look down on you because you didn’t know that Rafiki means ‘friend’ in Swahili. That’s cool because it’s my favourite film too. Don’t you just love Timone and Pumba? Oh yeah, me too. And the part where they- so funny!

Jack Taylor

Do baked beans make you cringe? Are slow walkers your living hell? Send your own Room 101 to [email protected]

Image: Heath Alseike via Flickr

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