In a world where we’re spoilt for choice, it’s not difficult for our opinions and preferences to differ from the next person. Even the way in which we choose to present ourselves to the world is unique unto ourselves. So, it is only natural for us all to have a very distinct taste in the kind of art we would like to indulge in. Or so it would seem.
As much as I hate to say it, the kind of bias and elitism that exists regarding a person’s love for a certain kind of art is anything but heartening to see. As an art enthusiast and an artist, I firmly believe that the art itself is for every single person out there and everyone has the power to decide what kind of art speaks to them the most. Whether it is widely accepted by the masses is a whole other thing.
Yet, we cannot help but think most of these masses jump on a bandwagon of popularity. I mean, it’s inevitable. Don’t we all want to catch up on internet trends sometimes and know what’s going around the world? But the main question is, do you find yourself in these things that the world is so fixated on? Is it really your muse? Or rather something you want people to know?
The FOMO is so very real. And it’s not necessarily a bad thing either because it does open you up to a whole new world of choices that you might not have stumbled upon another way. Of course, the opinions of others can change your perspective. But when you let being relevant take more importance over staying true to yourself, Houston, we have a problem here.
But the real problem is how we interpret others’ choice of art, music and lifestyle. Because, let’s just face it, writing “you do you” in your Instagram stories and tweets is one thing, while actually being able to respect others for their choice is a whole different thing. It could be anything! From people choosing to not read classic literature to listening to songs from another language. And yes, this includes normalizing the inclusion of certain art forms and accepting them, as well as not calling them inferior because whether you believe it or not, a lot of pain and effort goes into them, too.
Of course, we aren’t born multilingual individuals but some people put extra effort into looking up translations and doing research for the purpose of a song or an album. Isn’t it like asking A.R. Rahman to not write and perform songs in Hindi for the sake of international listeners? After all, he has his own country to make music for, much like any other artist on earth. Personally, I would listen to artists openly talk about mental health and their own struggles and how they overcame it instead of certain artists glorifying drug use and objectifying women, no matter how “cool” or “popular” it seems, or how all your friends are bopping to it. Considering how many artists have a lot of influence overall age group of listeners.
But that’s not just music we’re talking about here. This is also about accepting people who like abstract art over detailed masterpieces, people who write imagist free-verses over metaphorical and metrical verses, people who watch shows and movies that are not in their native tongue because they want to expand their horizons, and most importantly, accepting fan-fictions and fan-art as legitimate artwork. The more you open your eyes, the more you realize that we are all surrounded by so much art, it is mind-boggling!
But the saddest thing about all of this is that we still choose to shame people for their ‘mainstream’ taste in art. How do you decide what is considered mainstream, anyway? If you do follow mainstream pop-culture, you’re suddenly either ‘basic’ or ‘edgy’ and if you don’t, you’re ‘too pretentious’ and you’re probably ‘just faking it’. If you think about it, it all boils down to one thing, and it’s because people think hating on the mainstream is somehow cool.
Trivia: 17 board members of the Academy have not yet watched Parasite (a BAFTA, Golden Globe winner and Official selection of Cannes International Film Festival, named the best picture of 2019 in 2020 Oscars), because they “don’t want to deal with subtitles”.
So as “film critics” or even as general audiences, where does that leave us? A person of colour standing up on stage, convincing people, and I quote, “Where I come from, South Korea, we are emotionally dynamic people. Please accept it.” What do we, as a society make of ourselves? What about the double standards when people are welcoming of subbed anime and not motion pictures? Why is one superior and one widely hated upon?
I assure you, much like what Bong Joon Ho said, if we cross a tiny barrier of language and subtitles, we will be exposed to a wonderful world of art, music and cinema. And I can promise you that your taste in whatever form of art you choose isn’t and is never going to be ‘superior’ to other forms out there because one can never compare art. Every artist loses themself in creating something for the world. Each one is doing so in their own way.
I don’t ask you to support each and every single one out there, but you can definitely be a lot more accepting about the fact that the next person is not going to share the same taste as you and that is okay. That shouldn’t stop you from reading, listening to, watching or admiring who or what you want. Be respectful and don’t force your opinions onto others because it doesn’t always work that way. We still have miles to go to achieve that kind of harmony, but hey, at least we’re getting there.
So here is a question to you: after all this time, are you willing to be accepting of others and yourself? You don’t have to. It is your choice, after all. But if anything, try not to take a dump all over others’ choices because they can decide what speaks to them best all by themselves.
Imagine how tired we are of all the senseless keyboard ‘wars’ over which form of art is the best! Enjoy your favourite kind of art and let people live, damn.
Hey, everybody! Today’s blog post has been written in collaboration with my best friend, Kriti Singh Chauhan. I absolutely loved writing with her because it’s like we are one mind, as if we share our brain-cells, if you will. Being so in sync with someone is rare and I am so grateful for someone as immensely talented and amazing as her in my life. We often have very heated discussions about how tiring it is when people are constantly shaming each other for their preferences and the words just flowed naturally, making this post what it is. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as we did writing it, and I hope you took away something from it, as well.