In the spring of 2010, the low-budget comedy Tiny Furniture premiered at the South by Southwest Festival and was hailed as a brilliant, insightful, funny coming-of-age story. It won the top prize, and its writer-director-star, 24-year-old newbie Lena Dunham, was called a fresh new voice in comedy. Critics adored the film. Judd Apatow is now producing a TV series Dunham created, Girls, which premieres on HBO in April. After hearing all of this hype and adulation for Tiny Furniture, I decided to watch it one night, excited about what I was going to see.
And I hated it.
The movie wasn't awful, but it was slow, plotless, and not funny. I was so confused. How was this film being hailed as the new coming of comedy? Why was Hollywood going gaga for this film and for Lena Dunham? Was it them or was it me?
Taste is subjective, but nowadays, it seems that it's only subjective if your opinion matches general consensus. If you don't like it, then you are not smart enough. Or you just suck. We see it with Oscar season. Critics fall over each other to slather a film with praise, and then I see it and am unimpressed. I always second guess myself: maybe I just didn't get it, maybe I have lofty expectations. Recently, I saw The Descendants with George Clooney. It's a frontrunner in this year's Oscar race, directed by Alexander Payne who did the sublime Election and Sideways. My reaction at the movie's end was "Meh." I couldn't understand why critics were drooling over this. Just like I couldn't understand why they loved Sideways -- a movie which I found good, not great.
My pet peeve is when people criticize me for not liking something they did. Last month, I saw The Muppets. Again, I enjoyed the film, but I didn't LOVE it, putting me in the minority amongst my friends. And at a party, one of the guests called my morals and my soul into question because I only liked it. Judging by the way The Muppets has nosedived at the box office, I wasn't the only one. Just because I don't like or love something doesn't mean I'm a heartless snob. When it comes to art, people were not meant to be lemmings.
I used to be like them, though. I used to get up in arms when someone didn't like a movie or book that I loved. I took it personally a little. But now I've learned that we all have different opinions, and nobody should make you feel like yours aren't valid. The key is backing up your opinions. Many times, we don't think about why we like or don't like something. We go with our gut. Since I've gotten into writing, I now work to articulate my reasoning. All writers should do this. Next time you read a great book, think about why you liked it so much, and not just because everyone else liked it. This will help you in your writing to figure out what works.
Over Christmas break, I read Franny and Zooey by JD Salinger. Catcher in the Rye is one of my favorite books, and I also loved Nine Stories, so I was excited to read F&Z. And I hated it. I rarely hate books, but I hated this one. I was afraid to say that, because F&Z is such a classic, it must be me. But this is why I so disliked the novel: It was 200 pages of people having extremely long, rambling conversations that went nowhere -- a short story idea that Salinger strained to stretch into a full-length. Maybe this just isn't my type of book. I realize that I prefer plot-driven novels. But that doesn't make my opinion invalid or my taste "off."
What books/movies/shows have you hated that everyone else loved? And if you have opinions about any of the movies and books mentioned, please share!