Every year at this time the NCAA Tournament rolls around and every year I find myself wondering when I will start caring about college basketball. The answer, as best as I can tell: never. I will never care.
This is not to say that I don’t think college basketball has any value. I mean, I don’t, but I’m not saying it. Instead, I think my antipathy has more to do with my general resentment towards things that everybody else seems to agree are exciting and worthwhile. Popular things. Whenever a large group of people gets interested in something, my instinct is to dismiss it. You might think that makes me a snob. It does. But more than that, it makes me a phony.
Because the truth is, I would probably like all the things I put down if I just allowed myself to enjoy them, but I cannot out of general resentment and crankiness. I am to popular culture what Mr. Wilson is to Dennis the Menace.
“American Idol” is a perfect example. I do not watch that show. Why? Because it’s incredibly popular. There are those who have legitimate reasons for hating the show: Simon, the vocalizing, the schmaltz. None of that bothers me. What bothers me is that it’s popular.
The Oscars? Same thing. I never watch.
“The Office?” Don’t watch.
“30 Rock?” Ditto.
Almost every popular movie? I will not be going to see. Which explains why I went to see “Duplicity,” or as I’ve been calling it “Doo-Dooplicity.” It opened the same weekend as “I Love You, Man,” which stars a friend of mine and was directed by another friend of mine. Why didn’t I go see that? Asshole. That’s why. That said, I fully intend on seeing “I Love You, Man,” once it is no longer quite so popular. Things that were once popular but are no longer popular are fine with me. Like birch beer.
And duckpin bowling. I love duckpin bowling. For those of you do not know what that is, you are really missing out. It’s sort of like regular “popular” bowling only the ball is much smaller, as are the pins, and you get three chances per frame instead of two. It’s sort of like bowling meets Skee-Ball, a game which I also love – not only because it’s old-timey, but because you get tickets and I like sports where you are rewarded with tickets.
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when I rejected popular culture. I think it was somewhere between eighth grade and tenth grade. One year I was buying Michael Jackson records, the next I was buying records by The Day-Glo Abortions. Which did I enjoy more? Michael Jackson. Which did I listen to more? The Day-Glo Abortions. And made sure everybody knew it. This is the hallmark of a true poseur. Because, as I said, secretly I love pop culture. I love all of it, but don’t allow myself exposure to it because that would be admitting defeat. And I would rather suffer in victory than bask in defeat.
Clearly I’m in the wrong career. If I hate popular culture so much, why am I spending every waking hour creating it? Self-hatred. This schism may also explain why I’ve spent the last fifteen years of my life wallowing in the nether regions of basic cable. Yes, I said “nether regions of basic cable,” which doesn’t really make sense, but neither does my stupid fucking attitude.
So yes, I know the Final Four is this weekend and I think I can even name the teams playing: Connecticut, ‘Nova, one of the schools from North Carolina, and the McDonalds squad from Hamburger University. But I did not fill out any office pools, I will not be watching, and I do not care. Sort of. But I sort of do.