I’ve noticed a strange behaviour in myself recently. It’s something I don’t entirely understand, but I thought if I come clean and tell you all about it, then it’ll be a way of processing it myself, and you might offer some insight into this oddness.
This is what it is: When I’ve experienced something that I loved (I’m taking books and movies predominately, but then other things could fall victim to this too), I want to tell people about it. Wouldn’t you? So I catch up with a friend and they say ‘So what have you been reading?’ or ‘Seen any good movies?’ and I think to myself ‘Oh yes, THAT one!’
Then I tell them, ‘I just read/watched [insert title here]. It was fantastic! Although the [insert narrative element here] was ridiculous. I couldn’t believe they did that.’ So I tell them how much I loved it, and immediately start hating on it. If not hating, picking it apart and finding its flaws. In all honesty I have set out to give it a rave review, but other than saying how good something is, I get carried away with all its faults.
Do you ever do this? When I’m talking books with some of my friends it’s like I set them off. Before they know it they’re agreeing with me and pointing out their own misgivings. Anyone listening in would think that it was the worst book ever, but it’s not! Didn’t you hear my opening line? I Loved It!
I think I need to give you an actual example. Recently we went and saw Boyhood at the cinema. We’d won free tickets thanks to Kill Your Darlings on Twitter and I’d been looking forward to it ever since I heard about it years ago. If nothing else, the mere feat of filming over 13 years of these actors’ lives was a huge drawcard. Anyway, I thought it was wonderful. Truly worth seeing. Walking from the cinema I said, ‘That was SO Good!’ Bryan agreed and then waited. He’s gotten used to the ‘but’ or the ‘although’. And I couldn’t help myself. There were moments where I questioned the gender politics. It was that awkward line that is walked where you aren’t entirely sure if what’s being shown is a this-is-what-life-is-like-deal-with-it-silent-reinforcement or if it’s meant to be a critique-see-how-whack-this-is. In the case of Boyhood I’m giving the benefit of the doubt and saying the latter. But moments like that happen regularly. And then all of a sudden I can’t focus on anything but that. Really, though, it’s very good.
I won’t tell you any book titles because I didn’t want this blog to become a review blog like my last one was, but I’ll give you a few vague examples. Something I read recently wasn’t too bad at all. But about a third of the way in there was a visual image/metaphor description that used an incorrect verb and it was all I could think about for the rest of the book and the first thing I wanted to talk about when I was done. Another was a fantasy series I really enjoyed but its gender politics were totally off. In this case, it reflected the injustices that are present today/been around for millennia (which isn’t necessarily unusual, art imitating life and all that) BUT they were present in a society that was supposed to be enlightened and unbound by sexual convention and limitations… i.e. women are inferior and prone to be raped. (This is not my opinion, in case it reads that way, it’s my interpretation of this world). Now I’ve written that, I realise that that exact critique could be applied to two fantasy novels I’ve read this year. But I can still love them for the rest of it, the plot, various characters, setting etc. They could still be brilliant, but something will stand out and then it’s the focus of my review when I’m talking about it with friends.
What’s with that?
In my own defence, I think I see it as my own way of wanting things to be as good as they possibly can be. It also ties in with what I was saying in my last post: that if something’s worth reading then you don’t really need to know much about it, just read it. Although I don’t point out things flaws unless the person I’m talking to has read it, is not going to read it, or specifically asks for a detailed review. It’s not bad to want what’s best for things is it? Am I a terrible person to focus on all the things I see as not quite right? It doesn’t mean that I didn’t love it. Really it doesn’t!