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March 31, 2009

Unpopular

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.

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ChloeJ82

The Office is the funniest show on tv. You can forget all the other crap.

Katharine

Oh, Michael Ian Black, we are similar thinking people. While I have enjoyed your work and your musings, I am displeased with your recent surge in popularity. Please excuse me while I spend the next five to seven years pretending you don't exist.

I am extremely obscure and somewhat unpopular. Feel free to follow me.

Lamp

The world needs more of The Bearded Men of Space Station 11. Or at least, I do.

yankeebird

Did you know that nobody has ever bowled a perfect game of duckpin bowling? My ex and I discussed this while duckpin bowling on our first date. I just don't understand how this is supposed to be a fun game if it's unbeatable. Isn't it just an exercise in frustration? Hell, I think I bowled a 50, which is around my usual score in Skee Ball. You're right, they're very alike.

Charlie

For this same reason, instead of enjoying the funny jokes of popular comedians, I instead resort to suffering through the awkwardness of Stella. Can I share this with anyone I know without the eventual "Listen... I gotta get going..." -- No, of course not. Do I want to-- No, of course not.

shanlyn

pretentious.

Chaddgar

Usually, the things I like everyone else hates... Fletch, Spies Like Us... basically any Chevy Chase movie, come to think of it. And I kind of like those Dominos fresh baked sandwiches... meaning I'm the only one buying them and they'll be soon discontinued. :(

Camille

I was the same way with Napoleon Dynamite. Loved it until everyone else caught on and t-shirts were everywhere.
You're just a big freakin' snob but that's why I like you.

nikki

i don't think the bbc "office" was ever that popular in the U.S.i went into walmart the other day to get it and they totally didn't have it...so yeah enjoy that!

Alfred

youre on twitter.

Kris

You just described your own fanbase. We'll only like you until you catch on with everybody else. Probably when Stella: The Motion Picture comes out and wins an Oscar. Then we'll kick you to the curb for someone more obscure.

Ace Ventura

I think this is why I forced myself to watch every episode of Stella when they aired, but avoided the Chappelle show.

I mean Stella was absolutely awful, but the unpopularity was too much to resist. God knows no one watched that show, and the few who did probably were doing the same thing I was.

The highlight of that show was when you said rubber balls and liquor, because using 'liquor' as 'lick her' is a well established good joke.

Aw, I'm just kidding. It wasn't that bad. But seriously, that show was horse shit.

Reen

You would be an expert on superb comedy, like, for sure, "Ace Ventura".

Chris

I heard that "Ace Ventura" has sex with his dad. That's why he cannot laugh anymore. Otherwise, he probably would have laughed while watching Stella because it's hilarious and awesome.

manobon

I completely understand and, unfortunately, suffer from such "general resentment"- however, I've been lucky enough to catch some things beFore they got super-popular (ex, 30 Rock- Tina Fey? On The Tee Vee? Why would I not want to try that out?).

So! MIB- what happens when you follow something, but then it becomes "too popular"? Do you resent it for becoming "everyone's song" or what?

raymond's mother

Duckpin bowling? Sounds just like candlepin bowling, which I thought was pretty unheard of outside of New England. Apparently it's not, it's just known by a much dumber name.

awkward boner

whatever it is you enjoy is doomed to be popular and over-hyped at some point in your life. best to get over it and enjoy what you want, when you want.

Andrea

Birch beer! Yum!

mulberry

unpopular is popular.

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