February 18, 2009

In Defense of Bandwagons

I know some people do not like popular things, simply because they are popular. If it's popular, they don't want to read it, see it, listen to it, wear it, or eat it. I always think of the people who refuse to read Harry Potter not because it sounds boring or because they think it's of Satan, but because a massive amount of the world has had the audacity to like it and therefore it must be shunned.

shunned, actually. It's not enough to just not read it - you must tell people about how you are not reading it because you are not a hive mind and you are a forward thinking individual and . . . oh, what was that? Sorry, I dropped off in the midst of your long and tedious rant.

I'm sure there are other reasons to hate popular things (although I'm not really sure what they are), but when I see people turning up their noses at really awesome things to prove some sort of point, I can't help but think, "Do you have any idea what you're missing? It doesn't make me think you're awesome because you're too good for Harry Potter; it just makes me think you aren't trying something it's very likely you might enjoy."

Even more perplexing is when people stop liking things because other people have the gall to find out about it and like it too. "Oh, yes, I read the first Twilight book and I loved it, but then it became popular, so I haven't read any of the other books." Oh well, you sure showed them, didn't you?

Of course, this may be because I usually like the bandwagon, especially when it comes to books. If it's popular, I want to read it: The Hunger Games, Twilight, Harry Potter, Sarah Dessen, Georgia Nicolson. Show me the bandwagon and I'll start chasing it. If thousands or millions of people like it, it's likely there's a reason for that (Eat, Pray, Love being an obvious exception where my eyes nearly fell out from the eye-rolling it forced me to do, as you can see here), although obviously I'm not saying all popular things are good or that all unpopular things aren't.

Maybe this makes me insanely low-brow, but I don't really care. I don't want to have people ask me for book recommendations and to respond with some title that had a first-run of twelve whole copies and probably is only available from an international publisher for $178 plus shipping. It is one million times more likely that I'll steer you right toward something with a long hold list at the library.

I like liking things that other people like. I like going to a midnight showing of something or waiting in a long line to meet a popular author or see a famous sight. (I will generally not make a fool of myself and I will never throw my underwear on the stage, but I have no issues with being a groupie). I enjoy having interests in common with other people, being fascinated by the same TV shows, or having seen some famous location in Boston that millions of other people have seen too.

In fact, I feel so strongly about this, that I intend to make it part of my professional creed. I told Bart last night, "This clearly makes me a librarian for the people."

I like the sound of that.


  1. I am on the Hunger Games bandwagon for sure, and of course LOST. But I draw the line at vampires. I have my standards ;)

    Can't wait for Friday!

  2. Oddly enough, after my own personal bandwagon rant, I realized I have no problem at all with reading something (or even liking something) that everyone else reads and likes as long as I think it's good. It's when everyone loves something I think is terrible (The Da Vinci Code comes to mind) that it really bugs me.

  3. I'll try most things that most people love--with the exception of my wearing leggings, will not try that.

    And I will read just about anything that someone else loves and (hypothetically) everything that everyone loves!


  4. It's funny because I've flip flopped in my position on this as I've gotten older. I used to be of the mind that if everybody else loved it, I didn't. I remember refusing to watch A Walk to Remember for like 2 years because everybody was in love with it. When my roommates finally made me watch it, there I was, crying, "This is the best movie ever!" (I know, I know.) But I've just come to realize that it's ok to like something because it's popular. I have some friends that are total music snobs and I'm realizing that for them it's about being the "first to know" rather than it is about finding the best, if that makes sense.

    Come be my neighbor so we can be friends and have a children's lit book club ok? (I was at book club last night wishing that the girls would want to read children's lit, which they did not.)

  5. I guess I don't care whether or not something is popular. I have to like/enjoy it. It has to be on my terms or "speak" to me. (I'll watch Gilmore Girls or read Harry Potter with you!)

  6. Haha, I feel like you wrote this post in response to the one I just wrote about not wanting to go into photography because I feel like everyone else around me is.

    Point taken.

  7. I wholeheartedly agree with you.

    Side note: a friend just gave me her copy of Eat, Pray, Love. I shouldn;t waste my time then?

  8. janssen, you wouldn't throw your underwear up on stage?! i totally would have guessed otherwise! ;)

    i totally agree. i thought it was so obnoxious how many people REFUSED to see twilight or even read it because so many enjoyed it + it got so popular. it's their loss then, hopefully they were able to prove their point to.... someone?

    at the same time though, i really don't care for music that's gone mainstream. once it's played on the radio i'm usually tired of it because that means they're playing it in every store + elevator as well. maybe not elevators. but i generally try to find new + upcoming artists that haven't quite hit itunes yet, and i've found TONS of favorites that way.

    thanks for the post :)

  9. I finished Hunger Games last night and liked it a lot, though it didn't leave me all warm and fuzzy inside. I'm looking forward to reading the next book.

    I think jumping on the bandwagon is fine, as long as you're not using popular opinion to make ALL of your decisions. Cultural literacy involves understanding current trends as well as the classics.

  10. I know what you mean! Seriously! What is with the people that MAKE A POINT out of NOT 'joining in'? My philosophy is enjoy what you enjoy- popular or not- I love Harry Potter, but I don't enjoy some other popular things simply because they don't appeal to me- (Twilight)enjoy what you enjoy!

  11. I think that to be an effective librarian, you really need to be tapped into what the masses are reading. Providing also that you have the discerning taste to tell quality from crap, which you can and do.

    I agree that if something is really good, there will be a lot of people who like it. I do however, really like discovering things before they are popularized (like the first three Harry Potter books). Because it just confirms how completely awesome you are and what great taste you have. ;)

    I think also that there can be a feeling of a "sell out" once an artist or author becomes popular and you find a diminished quality. (Like the subsequent books in the twilight series.) That can be frustrating and prevent people from following that particular writer's/artist's work.

  12. Amen, sister. But why have i not yet read Sarah Dessen?

  13. It's a good point. I don't usually avoid things just because they're popular, but excessive popularity makes me wary.

  14. It's so silly when people do this! Like the ones who won't listen to anything that's played on the radio because if everyone likes it it must be low-brow trash. My policy is to judge something based on what I think about it... not what everyone else does. Maybe I'm wrong but it works for me. :)

  15. this is funny, good funny. I posted about The Book Thief and to me it is no way a bad thing to jump on a bandwagon....in all honesty it is hard on me though. I want to be the one who picks what I like and sometimes I feel that when eveyeone else likes it I have the need to rebel and not like it as much. Other times it is way to hyped and then I don't like it. And then in the last case, such as with The Book Thief- it was amazing, and I had to agree with everyone who had gone on that bandwagon before me.

    I like bandwagons when they are right, but when I don't agree with it I feel like I can be stampeded over.

    I liked this post by the way, and your blog, it is really cool :)

  16. GREAT post. Can you tell the world to get off their high horses? My favorite thing is about 20 people I know who said they would NEVER blog are now blogging. suckers.

  17. Girl, I am with you. There is a REASON things are popular. People who make statements simply to make statements are stupid.

  18. Thank you. You just justified years of me feeling guilty for like popular things. Secondly, you helped me see that my refusal to read the rest of the Twilight series is simply ridiculous. I'll get on that--no shame!

  19. I'm with you! (And all those other people in your comments.)

    I do have to say, there is a point where the bandwagon bugs me though and in the book blogging world this is it:

    The Book Thief= Good bandwagon. Let me on!

    Matrimony= Oh, please. I don't even want to touch it, let alone read it.

    I feel like there is a distinct difference in the bandwagons there, if that makes sense.

  20. If something is popular and it also interests me, I'm all for it.

    I tried to like Harry Potter - I read the first chapter of the first book - but it just wasn't for me.

    But I was totally on the Lord of the Rings bandwagon.

    From everything I've heard about the Twilight series, it seems like something I wouldn't like.

    There are too many other books out there I want to read!

  21. I usually wait until the bandwagon is circling around for a second lap before I'll jump on. I need to make sure the hype is well deserved. And sometimes, I'm just scared that I won't love the book/movie/whatever as much as everyone else. Which is why I waited about a decade before jumping on the Potter bandwagon. But hey, I never had to wait for any of the books to come out! Back to back to back, baby.

  22. i LOVE this.

    PS thanks so much for your comment on my last name issue. :)


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