Everyone likes different things. Everyone dislikes different things. People have diverse ideas and beliefs, and that’s what’s called an opinion. In the case of opinions on art or stories, things can get a little hairy. Because when someone attacks something you like, you feel like you’re personally being attacked. And sometimes, when someone likes something you thoroughly dislike, you feel like it’s your job to show them how flawed it is (or in other cases they’ll get mad at you and pester you about not liking it.)
This issue has plagued me a lot, and more recently because I did this stupid thing which was reading internet comments on something that I know is widely hated by a lot of people (but also widely loved by a lot of people. If you can guess what it is, tell me below and I’ll give you a cookie if you get it right.) Now obviously that was my own mistake because everyone knows that you shouldn’t read internet comments, but in this case it was an accident that I scrolled down just a bit.
In any case, I wanted to address this issue a bit more in depth. In the case of critiquing art as a consumer of art, everyone has their own subjective views on it. Just because I like horror movies doesn’t mean the rest of my family does. And that’s okay. Horror is certainly not a genre for everyone. The same goes for literally everything else. You might like it, but it is not for everyone, so you shouldn’t get offended just because someone else doesn’t like it or it’s not their thing.
On the other hand, when people are viciously attacking it because they don’t like it, that can get a little bit harder to deal with. Because it’s something you like so much, but they keep going on and on about how apparently awful they think it is. It’s one thing to have a disagreement over something and simply state why it’s not for you, but it’s something else entirely when you go to such extreme lengths to insult it in front of someone who you genuinely know likes it. And, in some cases, that does cross the line and those people end up insulting you for liking it as well. And dude, that ain’t cool.
However, there is a difference between people saying “I don’t like this thing because this, this, and this,” vs saying things like “This is awful and stupid and you’re stupid for liking it.” It does seem like a lot of people hear the latter no matter what is actually being said, though. This is especially true of the people who decide they need to push their favorite things on everyone around them and they refuse to accept that others might not like it.
But how do you deal with this when you’re on the opposite side of the argument? What happens if you’re the one saying, “I don’t like this thing”? Well, first, I hope you’re not being a jerk about it. In my case, it often just comes down to either, “This isn’t my thing,” or in actually a lot of cases, “I think this is an objectively flawed thing and this is why I have a problem with it.” I probably don’t express my opinion so eloquently as that most of the time, but I try to be fair about it, especially when I’m discussing it with someone who I know does like this thing that I do not like.
But it’s just an opinion, right? Let those who like something like it, and if you don’t like it, feel free. There doesn’t need to be this great huge argument over it. I try to tell myself this a lot, but the writer in me often takes it a step further in some cases. When I see something as objectively flawed and not so good, but other people are insisting it’s great and has no flaws at all, that’s when I have a problem with it.
My main problem with this sort of thing is when people can’t find flaws in something. I will fully admit that I like some things that are objectively flawed. Yes, I do still like them, but I can recognize its flaws and admit them to be such, but I can still find the good parts in it and like it because of that. But there are people who like things and refuse to admit it has any flaws at all, and when you refuse to see flaws in something, it probably means you do not think very critically. My main problem is when people who wish to be writers or artists do this sort of thing, because when you say this thing which is objectively bad is in fact objectively good, that says to me that you’ll probably end up having those same sorts of flaws in your own art.
I suppose, however, you can argue what makes something objectively good or bad, because art in general is subjective. But there are things that are generally seen as bad storytelling methods. In the end, though, it will be next to impossible to change the minds of people like that, and you have to go back and say, “Fine, this is just an opinion and I don’t have to care about it.” That’s really all you can do at that point.
It’s something I struggle with and I try not to be a jerk about it. I suppose my main point with this post is to say, it’s okay to like things and it’s okay to dislike things, but you don’t have to be a jerk to someone on either side of the spectrum. Remember: