When you're a teenager, it's de rigueur to be pointlessly contrarian, slaughtering sacred cows and bursting the bubble of people's complacency. You loudly and publicly decry Life is Beautiful or Nine Inch Nails or Magic Realism or whatever feels most outre at the moment. You get over this.
There are, of course, people who don't, who never lose the idea that not liking stuff makes you smarter, and that criticizing things near to people's hearts doesn't make you an asshole, but rather a truth-teller. For most of us, tearing down the stuff people love loses its charms. One derives no pleasure from telling one's nonogenarian grandfather that the book he loved was derivative drivel or the friend who loves Harold and Maude that you find it completely unwatchable except the score, which is admittedly really good. As Morrissey would have it, it's so easy to laugh, it's so easy to hate, and there's no justifying the things you like. When that liking is backed up by a chorus of critics and line-quoting fans and theme-parties, well, there's just no point.
And so we hold our tongues. And the walls rise around us, hemming us in with assumptions and collective cultural love until we can no longer take it. Daniel B. Smith came to this point after having to read Eric Carle's iconic picture-book to his two-year-old daughter with mind-numbing regularity. I can't share Smith's passion about The Very Hungry Caterpillar - these things tend to be idiosyncratic, hence the fear of speaking out - but I have betes noires of my own.
Like I said, Ferris Bueller. I loathe it. I find it humorless and charmless and people intoning "Bueller" is for me tantamount to nails on a chalkboard. Or Whit Stillman's movies, which have always struck me as the cinematic equivalent of the mixology trend. While we're at it? M.F.K. Fisher, who, while a good stylist, conveys a palpable chill that's always put me off. There, I said it! I don't like The Gastronomical Me with its icy narcissism, lack of discernible appetite and stony-faced infidelities!
When I posed the question of private sacred-cow slaughterhouses to the rest of the editorial board (or equivalent) the response was overwhelming, ranging from The Godfather, James Joyce,Breakfast at Tiffany's, Elvis Presley, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, jazz, The Sound of Music, Margaret Atwood, The Lord of the Rings, SNL, Tina Fey's Sarah Palin impression on SNL, Wuthering Heights, The Rolling Stones, Where the Wild Things Are, Manhattan, and, um "custard squares" (which is apparently a major deal in New Zealand.) The last word goes to Anna: "SEINFELD. I HATE SEINFELD."
Of all these things, I will quote Smith when he says "I recognize that this viewpoint would appear to be contradicted by ample evidence." But that is the point. Are they in fact "good?" Are you wrong, or just the one declaring that the emperor is naked? After all, going along with things, as human history tells us, can be dangerous. On the other hand, college freshmen calling Jane Austen "bourgeois" or saying that Fleetwood Mac was better before Buckingham-Nicks even though they've never listened to Tusk,
The Very Grouchy Daddy [Slate]