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On “Crap”

A friend of mine is currently experience an increased demand for entertainment. After noting a couple of Facebook updates related to television shows that are constantly in syndication, I recommended Hulu. I noted that it offers a lot of crap, but that it allows you to choose the crap you want to watch on your own schedule.

I got some pushback on that as being a negative statement, “passive-aggressive” to be exact. It shouldn’t have surprised me, but it did. I think most people don’t have the same relationship to the word “crap” that I do.

A lot of that has to do with the general version of Sturgeon’s Law: 90% of everything is crap. Theodore Sturgeon actually said, “Sure, 90% of science fiction is crud. That’s because 90% of everything is crud,” but nobody else says it that way. It’s always “crap.”

The fun part is that nobody really agrees on which 90% we’re going to label “crap.” Lost is and has been a major television phenomenon. It’s near and dear to the hearts of millions, but I can’t watch it, and I’m not alone. On the other hand, I’m a big fan of Stargate SG-1, at one time the number one television show on the planet. However, it makes large portions of science fiction fandom yawn.

I don’t watch movies to get embroiled in other people’s emotional drama, and (physical and emotional) slapstick makes me cringe, so I’ve seen almost no Oscar-winning movies and have no idea what most of the taglines being used around me mean. I can guess that they’ve got something to do with Will Ferrell, but that’s about it.

On the other hand, it would never occur to me to suggest that my views on movies were anything like objective. The statement that so-and-so “is crap” confuses the hell out of me, even when it’s applied to something like Twilight. After all, if that many kids are driven to read, the books are offering them something. It may not be the same thing I want, but it doesn’t become less compelling to them just because I don’t value it.

I know too many people who sneer at cozy mysteries or find “literature” impenetrable to think there’s anything that can be comfortably categorized as “crap.” Yet we still all do it. Officially, I think that makes 100% of everything crap. So if I refer to your favorite movie, book or show as “crap,” don’t take it personally.

After all, my opinion on the subject is probably crap too.

Comments

  1. Adamo says

    As long as you don't tell me which 90% is crap,I won't tell you which 90% is crap.Besides, eventually crap becomes fertilizer.Did you also like Stargate Atlantis? I didn't think it lived up to its potential the way the original did, but I'd never call it crap. There were occasional gems. And at least they didn't bend the science so far as to make ice sink like another SciFi TV did show some years back! Now THAT was crap! (Nevermind my 1st statement. That show REALLY was crap!)

  2. says

    I've heard that there is an old Latin proverb that translates into something like "In matters of taste, let there be no dispute". I think that means that when it comes to judging things that are very subjective, like literature, music, movies, TV, etc., it doesn't make sense to argue about them as if they were scientific or mathematical problems that have a right answer which can be determined by following logical rules and collecting evidence. The arguments are really like more sophisticated versions of two little kids arguing about their favorite colors – there's no way to prove that your preferences are "right" or "wrong".Of course, the fact that an activity is pointless never stops people from doing it, especially when it can be fun (up to a point).

  3. says

    Heh. This is just like how 90% of people are stupid, and everyone disagrees on which 90%. And what criteria you use to determine which 90%.Jodi got me into Lost when we started dating. We both burned out on it after repeatedly waiting til the end of a season and watching it all at once, and have no intention of watching this season. People at work are often incredulous when I tell them "I'm done with it."And don't get me started on Firefly.

  4. Adamo says

    Jason, I'm confused. Did you like or hate Firefly? I liked it both for its uniqueness and its ending. It didn't try to stretch on and on and on for years, well after any interesting thoughts had been expressed. You can't come back after you kill off so many main characters. Too many shows for my taste run out of ideas and try to substitute violence and gore for plot lines. Are we boring you? How about if we throw in a serial killer? Nothing to say? Add a stalkerBabylon 5 almost got it right: create a 5-year arc and fit everything into it. Too bad their last few episodes weren't better.And speaking of endings, did Numbers just end? Last week they tied up everybody's story line neatly. Everybody's married, engaged, promoted, moving, staying, has a new job…..Hmmm, better stop before this posting turns into complete crap.

  5. says

    Recommendations for the arts being as subjective as they are, it's very difficult to find someone whose suggestions you trust. Over time you learn that you can trust Joe's opinion on Horror movies, and Laura's opinion on SciFi novels.Using intelligent agents to gather and compile this type of information showed a lot of promise in the mid-to-late 1990's, but I haven't seen very much lately that sparked my interest.

  6. says

    Adamo: sorry. I meant "don't get me started on them cancelling Firefly after the first season". They only killed off half the main characters during "season 2", e.g. the movie.