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02 April 2014 @ 05:24 pm
The trouble with elitists  

So, in the weird social arrangement of my life, there aren't a lot of people I really consider my friends, and none of the ones I do consider friends are people I actually met. They are all people brought in by my brothers, and though some I have befriended since and become close to, a lot of them are just people I end up socializing with because Anthony does, but wouldn't really choose to spend time with on my own. One of these "friends" is leaving for college in Oregon in a couple months, and we hadn't hung out together in long time, so he came to visit yesterday.

We've known him since he was fourteen or fifteen, and he's eighteen now. He's very smart, very left-brained, (and very wrapped-up in being smart and left-brained) and is one of those people who worships over-much at the altar of science. His family is well-off and he's had a very good education and (from what I know) a fairly cushy life, yet at fifteen he already had the jaded, cynical, elitist outlook of a twenty-something hipster. In fact, he kind of just is a hipster, but without the wardrobe. (Which of course, is a comparison he would loathe.)

He's very judgemental and exclusive, and the kind of person who hates a lot of things, to the point where I can only assume most of what he hates he has decided to hate, and that he enjoys hating on things. Anything too simple, or too fun, or too innocent, or too mainstream seems to offend his sensibilities, and he's likely to turn up his nose at something just because a lot other of people like it.

He likes horror, and tends to gravitate toward weird, complex, dark and usually somewhat twisted stuff, especially when it presents itself as somehow "deep" just because it's weird. (And by extension, if it's weirdness doesn't do anything for you, then you must be dum and/or shallow.) He's big into Warhammer, but supports Chaos; loves Fallout, but not only sides with Caesar's Legion, but prefers the bizarre and goofy old games to the new ones. He likes a lot of horror manga (like Spiral) likes Lovecraft (who I can't stand) is a big Homestuck fan and is super into Welcome to the Night Vale.

Hilariously, Lovecraft, Homestuck, and Night Vale are all rabidly popular, at least in the nerd crowd. (Even outside traditional nerdom, Lovecraft is still the overly-indulged mainstay of pseudo-intellectual hipsters the world over, as well as the favored child of those critic-types who want everything "gritty" and "dark"-- and thus "realistic"-- to the point where they can't enjoy anything else.) That doesn't really work well with his anti-popular thing. However, the first two at least kind of have fandom heirarchies, and judge you to see if you're a "real fan" or a "poser", and whether your interest is legitimate enough for them. He's always held himself above the majority of the Homestuck fandom (with sort-of good reason) and yesterday he claimed he's the "only one" who is actually a real fan of Night Vale. So series with heirarchy-based fandoms seem to avoid his anti-mainstream thing, which makes sense in a way, since being somehow the top tier of the cultural/intellectual heirarchy is kind of the reason he has a problem with mainstream stuff in the first place.

I don't want to be rude, or hurt his feelings, so I keep it to myself, but it's difficult to have a pleasant time hanging out with him. Not horrible or anything, just kind of awkward and more energy draining even than usual. It's just hard to feel comfortable and free to be oneself around someone who hates most of what you love, and who makes you feel as though he has already judged you and your likes as somehow less intelligent, or less legitimate, or being somehow inferior to him/his. I mean, he's never put me down to my face, or said anything demeaning to me, but the commentary he makes about things he doesn't know I love, (and even some things he does know), and other people who like those things, or who's tastes don't mesh with his make it clear that he at least thinks some of that about me, even if he doesn't express it. So in order for us to "have a good time" together, I have to keep quiet about what I like and what I feel, in order to avoid the negative judgement(and possible tension) that would result if I actually admitted my tastes or spoke my mind.

Once another "friend" claimed somewhat dimissively that I tended to like "mainstream" stuff because I watched Ouran Host Club (which is ironic since she is super into Sengoku Basura, Devil May Cry, Resident Evil, Capcom games in general, and whatever new, somewhat dark, supernatural-themed Japanese series is producing yaoi this week.) I don't mind liking mainstream stuff per say, and I'm not going to watch or not watch something because it does or doesn't up my "street cred." But the hilarious thing is how NOT mainstream my taste usually is. I've wailed before about how whatever I tend to like-- even stuff that is supposedly popular-- has no fan presence, and no merchandise, and that I never find anyone else who likes or is even aware of it. Like The Guild, Felicia Day's webshow. Super popular, right? No one I know watches it other than people I made watch it. No one! I've realized it's mostly because I like fantasy, and while nerd culture has gone fairly mainstream, it's mostly sci-fi and super heroes that are in the main, while fantasy loiters awkwardly in the background, wedged somewhere between the kiddie table and the grown-ups. (And if it should make its way to the front, it must first prove itself "adult" by grittying up, getting "dark" and producing a lot of gore, violence, and nudity.) So, supposed "nerds" flex their Star Trek muscles and call people "fake geeks" when they don't know Green Lantern's backstory, but when I try to talk about Michael Moorcock, no one has even heard of him, let alone gives a crap.

So it's kind of galling (but mostly just hilarious) to then have people look down their noses at me because I like things that they claim are too "popular", especially when they feel like it somehow makes them smarter or better than me. If I'm going to be judged for being too generic or mainstream, I'd like for once to be able to at least enjoy the benefits of liking something actually generic/mainstream. But sitting in the corner with no one knowing or caring about most of what I like, and then being given the old superiority side-eye anyway is just freaking obnoxious.

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