This was originally posted on The Asexual Agenda last week, and is thus written explicitly for ace audiences. If you want to see ace responses, you might find the comment thread over there enlightening.
Sometimes in college, I would persuade people to play a game. Name a movie. I probably didn’t see it. If I saw it, I probably didn’t like it. It would usually take over a dozen tries before anyone could name a movie I cared for.
It’s not just movies. I don’t like most television shows, books, or music. Or at least, I probably won’t like any particular example. I’m not snobby about it, and I am not embarrassed about the things I like. I’m just not a fan of pop culture. Or most other culture for that matter, but pop culture tends to be most relevant.
Put it this way: every year, geeks have a competition to see who can be most loudly uninterested in football. I don’t participate, because everything is my football. If you like most of pop culture except for a few things, you can afford to be a jerk about it. I cannot afford to be a jerk about absolutely everything, so I try not to be a jerk about any of it.
There is no identity label for this experience (I don’t consider myself “indie”), but I still feel there are thematic resonances with asexuality, outlined below. After all, asexuality is also about not liking something that is popular.
What makes an identity
Don’t you just hate it when people just talk about sex all the time, and you don’t care? Personally it doesn’t bother me, because here’s a far more common occurrence: people talk about TV shows all the time, and I just don’t care. Seriously, when you meet someone for the first time, hardly anyone brings up sex as a way of finding common ground for a discussion, but lots of people bring up pop culture. Lots of people tell me that if I haven’t tried something, I should try it because I’ll definitely like it, based on approximately zero information about me. (Looking at you geeks, I hate your science fiction and superheroes so much.)
This raises the question, why does asexuality have the label, but disliking pop culture doesn’t? Why am I an ace blogger, not an anti-pop blogger? Well, if some people want to form a community around not liking pop, that sounds like a fine idea to me. In practice, communities form around alternative tastes (see various indie cultures).
But here’s a thought: there’s more to asexuality than just disliking something that is popular. Asexuality affects whether we have primary relationships and if we do, how treat them. Even if we lived in a utopia where aces integrated perfectly, asexuality would still be a thing, and still demand specialized communities, just like other sexual orientations.
A more direct intersection between asexuality and pop culture is the representation of aces within pop culture. Years ago, when ace characters were a rare occurrence, it didn’t matter where they appeared, I would be excited regardless. As more and more ace characters appear, particularly in webcomics, fanfiction, and YA fiction, I feel less excited, and my “I hate everything” tendencies have reasserted themselves.
This is all to say, I feel disconnected from many discussions of ace representations these days. Lots of people want more ace representation, and more different kinds of aces represented. They want to see characters that reflect their individual experiences. Me, I just want to see ace representation in some form of media that I actually like. I only expect to run into a few examples in my lifetime, so I don’t particularly expect that the ace character will actually resemble me.
I have a lot of contact with gay male culture, a lot of which consists of Grindr, body image issues, and femmephobia. But aside from that, there’s a lot of love for divas. Years back it was all about Lady Gaga, and then it was Katy Perry, then Miley Cyrus, now it’s Adele or something? I haven’t exactly been keeping track. But the point I’m making is that really, these are just pop artists. This is true in general, that a lot of gay male culture is basically just a particular spin on pop culture.
“Asexual culture” is still very early in its development (see last year’s Carnival of Aces for some discussion), but I think it follows similar patterns. I’m not keeping track, but there seems to be a thing for Sherlock, YA fiction, Steven Universe, and fanfiction. Fanfiction arguably isn’t very pop, but I think the other stuff is. Well, whatever the ace community decides to like, I’m resigned to not liking it. It’s fine, really, go on and enjoy yourselves.
You might guess that having unusual tastes in media helped me come to terms with having an unusual sexual orientation. Actually, it was the other way around. After reflecting on asexuality, I felt more at peace with the other ways I feel different from society.
It’s okay to be different! Lots of people are different, and sometimes we find each other on the internet. I don’t need to alternate between feeling snobbish about my tastes and feeling sorry for myself. I can just be who I am.