Monday, March 10, 2014

"On an occasion of this kind it becomes more than a moral duty to speak one's mind; it becomes a pleasure."

"Look here, Gwendolen, that Miss Dashwood is doing one of
her dreadfully pompous Public Service Announcements again!"
(Imaginary quote from The Importance of Being Earnest - 1952.
The post title is also from IOBE but it's actually accurate.)

Listen closely, children, for today I have some little stories to tell you, and a moral application to be applied at the end, so give me your full attention for a few moments and sit still with your hands folded.  (Melody, put the book down, and Anne-girl, don't draw smiley faces on the wall.) 

Story the First

Once upon a time, I volunteered at a historical event and accidentally on purpose listened in to the conversation two young people were having.  (It wasn't that bad, guys, they were sitting right next to me and just making small talk during the down time.)  The exchange didn't interest me that much, honestly, until I heard one of them mention Pride and Prejudice-- at which point my ears (figuratively) pricked up.  This person, as it turned out, was a big fan of P&P95, and I, being the same, decided right then and there that I liked her very much.  We have since become friendly acquaintances and when we meet, we always talk about how wonderful BBC costume dramas are-- but invariably, the conversation always comes back to Mr. Darcy.  (cough, cough, ahem.)  It wouldn't be unreasonable to assume that the person-who-liked-the-right-P&P and I would have struck up a friendship even without P&P95, but it definitely helped move matters along and raise her quite a few points in my estimation at a very early date.

Story the Second

Once upon a time, I was at a dear friend's house and we were up unreasonably late playing Apples to Apples with her siblings, because that's what people do when they've had too many chocolate pretzels.  At some point in the evening, the topic of P&05 (or as I like to call it, FakeP&P) came up in the conversation, and one of the participants pronounced a resounding "boo" upon it.  I, being a big Not Fan of P&P05, promptly pronounced approval upon this person, and the conversation quickly deteriorated into a most enjoyable bashing of the aforementioned film.  Obviously we had all been getting along quite nicely before this juncture, but the introduction of a mutual dislike added a certain spice and flavor to the enjoyable-ness of the conversation.  And though the person-who-boo'ed and I differ greatly on many other matters of opinion-- cough, cough, Sir Percy, COUGH COUGH-- the derogatory remarks he made regarding Fake P&P helped to raise him quite a few points in my estimation.

Story the Third

Once upon a time, I was clicking my merry way through blogdom, when I came across a blog that looked Kindred-Spirit-ish and Interesting.  I began scrolling through it, nodding my merry head at the posts I saw that were pleasing to mine eye-- and then I stopped and mine eye grew red with rage, for the blogger who wrote this blog had written some observations of a scathing nature regarding mine own beloved P&P95, and THIS WOULD NOT DO.  So I exited the browser window right speedily, and nary again did I darken the homepage of that blog.  Which, now that I think back on it, was a bit hasty of a judgment... but that is how seriously I take my fanship, folks.


Here we get to the meat of the post.  :D

I have given you three stories of how I formed hasty/sort of hasty judgments about people/blogs based on a rather trivial element: their like or dislike of something I liked very much.  (These cases all revolved around P&P95, which was not actually the intention when I started writing the stories-- all true, in case you were wondering-- but it seemed a fun and fitting coincidence so I didn't bother scrabbling around for stories about some other topic, to lend Variety or some such nonsense.)  This is, of course, a pretty natural occurrence.  People instinctively judge other people based on their likes and dislikes, and to a certain extent there's nothing wrong with this.

The problem-- one I consistently struggle with, by the way-- is when we start getting up in arms about the things we like and dislike.  When we start giving people a hard time over something we don't agree with.  When we start to forget that, for Pete's sake, it's just an opinion.  It's just a blog post or comment.  It's-- cover your ears, diehard Janeites-- just a book or a movie.

I've done more than my fair share of lightheartedly bashing movies or books-- even character portrayals-- that I didn't like.  (You want examples, I'll give you examples.)  And I'm actually not using this post to renounce all my past actions and pound the pulpit at the rest of you to tell you not to make the mistakes I did in my wild-oats youth.  (Sheesh, I'm still IN my wild-oats youth.  :P) Because I don't think there's anything wrong with a little well-intentioned snark.  Obviously if the goal in mind is to hurt someone's feelings or take them down a peg or two, we have a problem.  But that's not what I'm talking about here.  I'm saying that it's fun to talk about the books and movies we love, to make fun of the ones we don't-quite-love, that people can bond over likes and dislikes (and even, perhaps, decide that they don't want to read a blog post that blatantly dislikes something they really like... if that sentence made any sense at all, which is doubtful.)

What's not okay, however, is to let our opinions and fanships to get the better of us.  To get into less-than-friendly arguments.  To leave scathing comments on blog posts we don't agree with (and yes, I've seen this happen).  I'm not referring to good-natured ribbing between friends here-- that's a different matter entirely.  If both parties know it's all in fun, there's no problem.  But when we overstep the line and begin to take personal offense when someone dares to be less than enamored with one of our pet fandoms, we've gotten into dangerous waters.

Think of it this way.  Imagine, if you will, a naive young whippersnapper who's just venturing into the sprawling, scary world of blogging.  She lands upon a blog that looks interesting, begins to read a post that goes on and on about how wonderful this North and South movie is.  How exciting, thinks she-- here's someone who likes it as much as I do.  I think I'll leave a comment and show my appreciation... but then her eye lands on the comment box, and a particularly vituperative (that's a fun word :P) attack on the post author's choice of film is the first comment to pop up.  A little shocked at the vehemence of the commenter's opinion, the naive young whippersnapper rethinks her idea of leaving a comment... she doesn't want to get yelled at, does she?  Perhaps, after all, her opinion isn't the right one.  Perhaps, after all, she is less of a person for liking something that this outspoken commentator didn't approve of.  So, very sadly, she closes her browser, leaves Blogger and moves on through the melancholy rest of her life without ever experiencing the friendship and camaraderie that flows in abundance around this neck of the woods.

*melodramatic violin music plays as the screen changes to Benedict Cumberbatch staring moodily into the middle distance*

My point here is that it's okay to disagree with people.  (I'm very close to a certain girl who happens to really like P&P05 (though every day I fervently pray that her erring heart may be converted), and to another who, well versed in TSP and Les Mis as she may be, just doesn't give Jane Austen the adoration she deserves.  And yet I love them both anyway-- and I, in my turn, grieve them grievously by not appreciating P&P05 and by not being interested in Doctor Who.  Heehee.)  It's okay to debate things.  It's okay to have mock battles over which Jane Austen hero is better.  But let's not get too carried away and start making people feel bad over whether they prefer Mr. Darcy or Mr. Thornton, whether they like John better than Sherlock, whether they drink their tea with sugar or honey or ketchup if it takes their fancy.

Let's remember that it's okay to agree to disagree.  Sure, where your moral principles are concerned, you'll want to take a firm and unwavering stand.  But where your favorite Austen hero is concerned... maybe it's okay to let another person have her say.

Because you know what?  The important thing here is that people do like books and movies and characters.  That people are socializing and forming friendships over stories, that conversations are being made because an author put pen to paper two hundred years ago.  That hilarious debates are being fueled because Baroness Orczy's just so doggone controversial.  (this one will go down in history, I do believe.) That people are voicing their opinions and defending them instead of being apathetic.  That people are, perhaps, discovering authors and films and heroes and heroines through all these discussions that they might never have met otherwise.  That we're all having fun together.  

Let's not lose that, ever.

Okey-dokey.  Class dismissed.

P.S.  This is a post that's been swirling in my head for a long time and isn't aimed at anyone or any event in particular.  Just to clarify.  :D
P.P.S.  Pride and Prejudice 1995 is still the best.  But I'm sure you knew that.
P.P.P.S.  I always relish a good debate, so if you wanna pop up in the comments, feel free...


Anne-girl said...

This pleases cute owl. Yes hmmm.

I tend to really really far deep down enjoy pretty much any movie I see because I just love movies so much but P&P 95 is better than 2005 and I unquoth.

And yes Gertrude I know I am a disgrace to the name of Janeite but if I am a wild beast I cannot help it. It is not my own fault.

But seriously this post is needed. I see a lot of what I call "hipsterism" going on sometimes and it makes me kind of sad. If someone loves something {as long as it isn't immoral} be happy for them! They have a fandom! There's enough discord and dislike in the world i don't think we need to add to it by sipping our beverages of choice at each other and sneering because someone likes something that's "popular" or "old fashioned" or just different from us.

So again, great post Amy.

Miss Melody Muffin said...

All I have to say in response to this post is: AMEN. PREACH IT SISTAH!!!!!


Livia Rachelle said...

Hilarious way to give a bit of advice. I am not sure if I have left any too harsh comments regarding fandoms, but I know that it is my tendency to react strongly in daily life (I think I am a leetle more careful online, texting, etc. because you have to think longer; I could be delusional and actually be quite as harsh . . .)

One thing to consider regarding fan opinion. I know what you said applies sometimes (most?). I think my most violent (it was like arguing with stones, so I should have shut up anyway) debates over a movie were regarding the behaviors and similarities to characters with people (from my church) with whose own behaviors I disagree. So sometimes it can be revealing. If they approve, excuse characters, it can link to how they excuse/justify how poorly they treat people.

Melody said...

*obediently puts book down*

Heeheehee. I know the setting of Story the First, I think. :D

Ooh, and story the second. Wow, I'm good at this game. :P

I like that they were all about P&P95, haha.

Hahahaha, the dramatic bit. Oh goodness. Poor whippersnapper.

Seriously though. Yucko.

You just said "Austen hero." Amelia, what did we JUST talk about? ;P

Eeeheee, that JA vs. Orczy debate... we are neeever going to forget that. And I happen to know it is still being enjoyed by other people as well. ;)

Excellent post, darling! I actually *cough* a little while into it was *cough* afraid I was going to get a little annoyed. But I didn't. ;) You didn't get carried away, ahahaha. Because I think that bonding over likes and dislikes IS an important thing... and that sometimes not bonding over them is really just on the surface of deeper matters, although it is always good to give somebody a fair chance before you decide you don't like them. ;)

Well, dear Gardenia, I was not even aware that you considered yourself a Janeite at all, haha. Do you, then? And nice save there-- the wild beast quote always tends to alleviate annoyance for a Janeite, if any is to be felt. It's really quite useful. I've done it myself. (I wasn't going to be annoyed at you anyways though, haha.)

Alexandra said...

This post is good, and that right muchly. I like that you accept me despite my blasphemous statements about Jane Austen, and I will forgive thine erring heart for the lack of interest in Doctor Who. But I do think that a fun debate can quickly slide into sharp comments if we're not careful. NOT that I'm bashing all-in-fun debates, of course (sink me...:P). Poking in fun can be awesome. But there comes a point where a line gets crossed and you go from teasing to catty. Way too easy for girls. :)

That being said, I'm sure you agree but wanted to point out the difference between fandom debate and Things That Are Important To Defend. Like doctrine or the lack of it. :P

And loooove Annegirl's comment. They have something they're passionate about. Yay for them! If you love it, yay for both of you! If you don't, yay for them! Anyway. Great post. ;)

Lois said...

I am definitely guilty of judging people by their likes and dislikes when it comes to Jane Austen. I've had to learn to agree to disagree though. For example, while it is most people's favorite version, I don't enjoy the 2009 version of Emma. I know it's your favorite version too so I'm not going to quibble over that. :)
P.S. I call the 2005 version of P&P the "evil version". :) I feel it pretty well sums it up. ;)

Elizabeth said...


Naomi said...

Yes! I wholly agree!!!!
I just loathe the 2005 version. People don't act and everything, everything is wrong.
The 1995 is just suuuuper!!!!

Jennifer said...

Excellent post. Something good to start practicing as a young person because it doesn't get any easier the older you get - not that I would consider myself old. ;)
And although I know it's practically blasphemy to say this here, I prefer P&P2005. Sorry. Just had to say that.

Miss Dashwood said...

Awww, I'm glad this pleased Cute Owl. That was the general idea. :D You are not quite a disgrace to the name of Janeite-- at least, as long as you maintain that 1995 IS better. Heehee. "Hipsterism" indeed. My warrior princess isn't LIKE that. Snort.
And I LIKE sipping my beverage of choice at people, what are you talking about. :P

Miss Melody Muffin,
HAHAHAHAHAHA. Thank you. I must say I literally laughed out loud. :D

Livia Rachelle,
Heehee, I'm glad you found it amusing! I have a tendency to be pretty harsh too... something I'm trying to curb. VERY good insight about people trying to excuse/justify their own treatment of people through their opinions of fictional characters... life does imitate art, or something like that.

What a good child you are. :D And indeed, you're very good at this game. Don't you just love the word "whippersnapper?" :D
Haha, I was wondering if you'd notice the Austen hero thing. I do like to toast your crumpet now and then, you know. :P
Did you go back and nostalgically read all the JA vs. Orczy debate comments tooooooo? :D And now you've made me curious about Other People... would they happen to include a certain mutual friend of ours whose name begins with an L?
Oh, indeed, bonding over likes and dislikes IS important and I don't ever want to downplay that. It's just that I don't want to get too carried away in Vehement Derogatory-ness when my likes and dislikes are at odds with someone else's. Heehee.
And I agree, that wild Beast quote does indeed mollify any annoyed Janeite. :D

Miss Dashwood said...

Oh, I do like you despite your blasphemy, and I'm glad you have forgiven me for my siiiiiiiiin. :P Teasing to catty-- excellent way of putting it. Ha, and now I'm thinking of Sherlock and Lestrade. "Girls, girls-- that's enough." :P
Oh yes, fandom debate and doctrinal beliefs are two very different things. Loved the thing your dad said about how opinions can change with the wind but convictions should stand like a rock.
Yay for everyone! Everyone deserves tea! :D

Well, I respect your decision to not like the 2009 version of Emma... as long as you respect mine to like it. :D See, look how amicable we are! And "the evil version" is a great sum-up. Bahahahaha.

;-D to you too!

Super indeed!

Thanks! And go right ahead and blaspheme, there are many reading this post who WILL agree with you, even though I'm not one of them. :D Thanks for commenting!

payton marie said...

Yes, yes, yes, forever and amen thank you, m'dear Chauvelin. :) Though I rarely speak of it, this has actually been a huge pet peeve of mine pretty much since I started venturing into the online world. Just sometimes people feel the need to argue or throw in their opinions about EVERY TINY THING, and I'm just like, Okay, it's not *that* important. Because with the exception of a couple of my more controversial blog posts (hehe), most of what is "debated" online is really quite silly. :P And while we may start it all in good fun, it can easily go too far. People just need to realize that not everything is worth arguing about (even mildy debating about) and sometimes you just don't NEED to express your opinion about something even if you have one.

But I totally agree with Ally... *some* things are definitely worth a good debate! ;)

Hmmm, and I'm pretty sure I caught onto a few not-so-subtle references to my P&P2005-loving self.... ;D THIS IS FOREVER, GIRL. YOU SHALL NEVER CONVERT MY ERRING HEART.

arenda said...

This isn't really the main point of your post, but I love how you're immediately drawn to people who share your sentiments. It reminds me of that CS Lewis quote - Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, 'What! You too? I thought I was the only one.”

Kiri Liz said...

I must say, Amy, I got a little nervous when I read the beginning of this post - Public Service Announcement, stories about P&P, and the like - and I had to calm myself from thinking that you were about to say something dreadful... I'm admit, I thought you might be building up to how you watched the fake P&P and LIKED it! Horrors!

I have never been so happy to be proven wrong. You're still our same old, darling Amy. ;)

Not that the fake (for it is indeed fake) P&P is altogether horrid, for it's entertaining to watch it once in a great while to laugh at because we would never laugh at the REAL P&P, but it's awesome in every way. Plus, the fake P&P soundtrack is beautiful...

Anywho, I'm getting distracted. Excellent post. This topic has been on my mind a lot lately. It's disconcerting to pour your heart into a horribly biased post and then have girls comment with an ugly, "You're wrong." Sure, we all have different opinions, and we need to respect those opinions. There's no need to get nasty, but we can still be friends even though we don't agree on things. I know there are many things that I like (LOTR, Narnia) that people don't like, so I try not to press them to like it. And I'll admit it, it's hard not to want everyone I love to love the things I love. But then again, I don't like a lot of things that my friends like (this is a dangerous list, and I can think of a few people who might shoot me for this, but: Hunger Games, Sherlock, Doctor Who, LB Diaries, Wicked, etc), and who likes to be pressured into fandoms and opinions that aren't theirs? And this goes even beyond books and movies... what about our standings on other things? We can still be friends even if we don't agree with each other on standards and the like. But you're right... we can disagree without being nasty.

Okay, I think I'm officially getting too long. *cough* Wonderful post, Amy. You got me too inspired, and that's why I'm leaving this epistle.

Oh... I do find myself siding with Melody - ketchup in tea is repulsive. Tea is still nasty in my own tastebuds, but ketchup in it makes it all the worse.

I'm done. :)

Eva said...

This post was *so* good. I fully agree with everything you said (other than P&P95 being so awesome - in my opinion it's Rather Dry & Boring, and P&P05 is infinitely Better, but it's certainly not going to cause a rift in my friendship with anyone). I ship several couples from different fandoms that not everyone would think the right thing (stuff like Hans/Elsa and Courfeyrac/Azelma), so I try to not judge other people for their ships (although I draw the line at Fantine/Enjolras and Jane Austen/Mark Twain. And, no, I'm not kidding about the second one. It's actually a real thing). As for my favorite adaptions of JA novels and other books, I don't really get stirred up when other people don't like the things I do. I mean, everyone's entitled to their own opinion, right? :)

Now, if someone wrote a scathing review, I'd probably be angry, but I definitely wouldn't call them out about it. I *would* probably not want to befriend them, which is pretty petty, now that I think about it :P Anyway, I just wanted to add my two cents, and tell you that I've nominated this post for ILTS, under Informative (now to go actually leave the comment).


Anne-girl said...

Melody- I don't really know if I consider myself a Janeite. I love her work and the movies made about her work and I have a respect bordering on awe for her development of themes and characters in Pride and Prejudice and to some extent Sense and Sensibility. But I like 2009 Emma better than the book, actually enjoyed 2005 despite the fact that I knew it wasn't true to the spirit of Pride and Prejudice, occasionally get annoyed with her lack of description and when it gets right down to it love Margaret Mitchell, Victor Hugo, Dickens, and Louisa May Alcott more. So I guess I am a Janeite in the sense that I love her work but not a Janeite in the way you and Amy are, Make sense?

Alexander said...

Good Post. I think for me (possessing the prophet personality that I have) I have to make sure that my preferences don't become my principles which results in me judging people for what I see as principles that are only my preferences....(if that made any sense:))

Alicia Showalter said...

This gets my stamp of AGREED. :D Nice post, Amy... I love the stories by the way :) especially story the third heeheh
Now I shall go drink my tea with ketchup. Thank you.

Marie said...

I very much agree, this is a good reminder!

Also, can I just second Ally and say that your fandom would be complete if you would at least watch ooooone episode or two of Doctor Who. :D

Oh, and while we're blaspheming (ew, what a horrible word), I did enjoy P&P2005 some as a movie. But as an adaptation of the classic It's a bit rubbish, in my opinion.

Well, more than a bit actually. :D

Molly said...

I feel that debating is fun, but it can go too far, especially when we start hurting others by pressing our ideas/beliefs/opinions on them.

Caroline L. said...

*UPROARIOUS APPLAUSE* We fangirls can get so VERY protective, and it is always great to be reminded keep our fandoms enriching to our lives and not destructive to us or anyone else.

Miss Jane Bennet said...

YES. This is *so* true and I'm glad that you've put it into words, because I could never articulate it like that. Amazing post! :)

Natalie said...

I agree with everything you said here! Keep up the great posts!!

Madeleine Ostermann said...

OH I much agree about P&P 1995 being much better than P&P 2005. The 2005 version is 'tolerable I suppose, but not handsome enough to tempt ME'.
I have often agreed to disagree with my friend....I LOVE writing, but I have a friend to loathes the very thought of it; and we are still very good friends of eight years (although I do still try to get her to write :).

To anyone who loses a good friend over a matter of a movie or a book or an author....I say without prejudice (although, maybe with a little pride) 'badly done ___. Badly done'.
Even though Diana doesn't have much imagination and couldn't think up a better name than 'Birch Path' she is still Anne's bosom friend.....And good friends don't always agree with you about everything.....but they can still be kindred spirits....

Melody said...

Yup, that makes sense. Hahaha, it's pretty much how *I* am with non-JA fandoms. So we're probably even.
I have no idea whether or not you have, but Emma-the-book should really be read at least twice before one can properly appreciate it. Just... throwing that out there. ;)

Hannah said...

Bless this post! And you! :D

There have been many times in the past when I've seen blogs and have gotten angry at scathing reviews of things that I've loved. I've never written nasty comments but I have decided not to follow or revisit blogs because of these things. But now I'm rethinking that policy. I tell myself that unless the blogger makes really personal criticisms of the actors or the fans (e.g. "Anyone who could possibly enjoy this adaptation is an idiot!") that it's just not worth getting annoyed about.