Elitism: Having An Opinion

Jeremy Gordon

Way back in Fall Quarter, I was accused of being an elitist by one of my friends when the subject of music came up, because I made fun of a John Mayer song that had come on. This friend, who unfortunately listens to schlocks like Jesse McCartney, said I was a douchebag because all I did was make fun of the music I hated. I responded by drawing a giant penis on his door whiteboard. In retrospect, I could have been more diplomatic, but oh well.

Being called elitist is the most useless insult I can think of – it’s basically acknowledging that someone has an opinion. Now, some people fake their opinions in order to curry favor with people they want to impress – these people are morons.

I used to be friends with a guy who professed to be a giant Steve Vai fan to some hard rock fans, and then turned around and called The Arcade Fire’s Funeral the most amazing album of all-time to some unattractive hipsters. People will make shit up to sound cool, but everyone figures it out sooner or later.

However, I have no guilt about having an abrasive opinion. I actively engage myself in so-called “works of art” – I take books out from the library, I go to the movies, I listen to a lot of music, I play a lot of video games and so forth. Over the last five years of doing this, I have cultivated a pretty defined parameter of taste – I’m open-minded, but I am vehemently sure in what I do and do not like.

My favorite song is “Teen Age Riot” by Sonic Youth. I like The Departed more than Pulp Fiction, but less than Reservoir Dogs. I actually wrote a two-page essay on why Neil Young is better than Bruce Springsteen because I was bored. Stuff like this isn’t interesting to anyone but me, and people like me.

I’m passionate about my dislike for things because I am so passionate about my love for other things, and I think most so-called “elitists” feel the same way. I can forget about my opinion and go with the flow when it comes to a larger social setting, but if something that truly offends me comes up, like Dave Matthews Band, I have no choice but to be a snarky asshole. Does this make me a shallow human being? Probably, But I also get offended by ignorant political assertions and genocide, so pop culture isn’t the only thing I think about.

People who don’t have opinions don’t bother me, but I am less likely to get along with someone if I can’t have conversations about something related to pop culture. I suspect this is truer depending on how “elitist” you are, but some of my most memorable college conversations have been spent arguing about a movie or a band. Trivial? Perhaps. Enjoyable? Hell yes.

So while I was a little offended when my friend called me an elitist, I was amused at the same time because there are worse things in life than having an opinion. I could have syphilis, for one. Is that really that funny? Not really, but I still thought about how much I hated John Mayer.

Medill freshman Jeremy Gordon is a PLAY pop culture columnist. He can be reached at [email protected]