Since moving to Seattle I’ve experienced a lot of things. One of the things that is most confusing and irritating to me is the elitism. I don’t know if it’s the way people are in Seattle, or the way people are as adults, but it’s truly ridiculous. Growing up in California there were plenty of labels that people put on each other, jock, geek, band nerd, but it seems here those labels also come with a certain kind of pride. It’s as if you’re not allowed to have any new interests. Which is very strange to me. If you didn’t grow up watching Night of the Living Dead you can’t be a fan of zombie movies now. If you don’t know every last detail about the engine of the X-Wing you can’t be a fan of Star Wars.
One of my first encounters with this oddness was my sophomore year of college. I was living in the dorms and one of my neighbors was a big fan of Weezer. I was as well. I had their blue album but beyond that hadn’t really kept up with them. I don’t know why. It’s not as if I didn’t like them anymore. I suppose it was just because I hadn’t heard about a new album coming out even though a few had, and didn’t follow them like stalkers on the Internet. In high school I mostly listened to the radio and the two or three CD’s I had (two or three until I joined Columbia House for a penny). Anyway, I noticed one day my neighbor wearing a Weezer shirt. I got excited! We shared an interest! I told her I like Weezer a lot and she asked me what I thought of Pinkerton. I looked at her blankly. Then asked, “What’s that?” She rolled her eyes dramatically and told me it was their second and best album. I asked if she had it and if I could borrow it. She sighed and crossed her arms. “I thought you said you were a fan.” I was taken aback. I told her I was, but didn’t keep up with music very well, so I didn’t know anything new had come out. Eventually she did warm up to me, mostly when I agreed that Pinkerton outdid the blue album. We even went to a Weezer concert together. Our friendship slowly disintegrated when I told her I also enjoyed their new album, the green one, and further dissipated when I liked Maladroit. We had other shared interests, but the fact that I wasn’t a devoted fan to the “old Weezer” was a huge obstacle for her to overcome. What’s weird is that I think we might have stayed friends longer if I had never said anything about liking Weezer.
What I don’t understand is why you have to be involved with something from the very start to be a legitimate fan. As long as you’re not claiming to be an expert, what’s the big deal? So you like Star Wars but only saw it for the first time last week? Neat, glad you liked it. Just because you don’t know the tiniest detail of Episode 14 of Star Trek you can’t say you’re a fan otherwise “real Trekkies” will jump down your throat and demand all your knowledge, then deem you unworthy. Why? I admit it’s nice knowing about stuff. Sometimes I like the fact that I can say I know a lot about one thing or the other. Or if someone asked me about say zombies, I could tell them quite a bit without having to open a book or do an Internet search. But does that make them less of a fan than me. And if it does, how? Just because I became aware of it sooner?
I’m not saying I’ve never been an elitist bitch. I’m sure I have, however, I make a real effort not to be. I try to be inviting, and welcome others to my interests because then I’ll have another person I can chat with about one thing or the other.
You might think that elitism is isolated to music, movies and generally nerdy things. I’ve found out recently that it’s not. An excellent example of that is my last post about the Sounders. I didn’t think the post came off as me saying I knew everything about soccer. I like to watch it, I like the Sounders because I live in Seattle and a close friend is really into them. I didn’t know the difference between a “hooligan” and a “supporter.” I thought a “hooligan” was a supporter so I called the ECS proper soccer hooligans. In response to this I got a long hostile comment from someone I don’t even know belittling me because of that. I just don’t get it! Nowhere in the post did I say “I know every little thing about soccer and if you think I don’t well you’re a stupid head!” I’m not allowed to be a fan because I don’t know everything about the game and it’s subsequent culture? What a way to make people want to be a part of it.
Maybe that’s the thing. People like being experts in certain areas. Although wouldn’t you want more people to become interested so you have folks you can talk to? Sometimes it’s nice to meet someone who’s not so deeply involved with whatever it, so you get a fresh, well rounded perspective on it; or even just a different perspective. Would that be so awful?
I’ve been thinking about this since I moved to Seattle and had my first encounter with elitism, but I think what pushed me to write about it was the comment I received in response to my ignorance. It was actually a bit exciting for me, because I’ve never really had a negative comment and wondered what it would be like. I’m not saying I want to get one on a weekly basis, but it was what got me thinking enough to write this post.