Thursday 21 August 2014

just rhythms and rhymes and melodies in time....

I was the victim of some inverse-snobbery at work yesterday. Some of my colleagues were off to go and watch The Inbetweeners 2 at the cinema, and another girl (who has been to see it twice) was telling them how much they’d laugh and telling them to “grow up” (which I understand is one of the catchphrases in the film). She asked if I had seen it. I said no. She asked if I was going to see it. I said no. Had I seen the first film. No. Had I watched any of the TV series. Well, yes, I’ve seen one episode – the one with the French exchange student – and it made me laugh, but I haven’t really gone out of my way to watch it.
“You’re just a snob”
“What? You think that I’m waiting for it to be dubbed into French so I can watch the subtitled version? I’m just not that bothered about going to see it when there are loads of other things I would want to watch instead”
She shook her head sadly.

I get this quite a lot, actually. People think that I’m highbrow and don’t have any interest in “normal” things. This seems to be because I sometimes use big and complicated sounding words (I used the word “vicissitudes” today, and this was apparently worthy of comment) and because I have a pretty broad interest in most things and have read a number of books and know a bit of stuff about lots of other books. I’m good in quizzes. In fact, the same girl actually volunteered me to write a quiz for a charity day she was helping to organise. She then spent the next couple of weeks worrying that I was going to make it too difficult, because the sample question I gave her, when she told me I had to do this, was to ask the name of the star in Lawrence of Arabia. She didn’t know, and immediately assumed that I was trying to be a smart arse and that literally no one would know the answers to any questions (I’ll maybe post the quiz up here and you can see how you would have done). We had a similar conversation about McDonalds. I haven't eaten at McDonalds for more than a decade, which this girl found incredible. What really blew her noodle was that I don't have a particular problem with McDonalds or with people who eat there; I just chose to go somewhere else instead. Each to their own, right? Or, if I was being pretentious, à chacun son goût

Using “big words”, in the heads of some people, seems to be all about showing off and trying to sound clever. In fact, when I use them, it’s because they’re just words that are in my vocabulary and I use them, in their appropriate context, assuming that people will understand – which is better than assuming people won’t, isn’t it? Why would you try to communicate using words people don’t understand? I can honestly say that I don’t think I’ve ever deliberately used a word to confuse someone.

I do like some subtitled films, it’s true. Crucially though, it’s not the subtitles that make me like them. I like lots of English language films too. Not all of them are award winners receiving high critical acclaim. I like Will Ferrell films. I watch superhero films too. I do read some classic literature, but it’s not to the exclusion of everything else and it’s not as though I sit on a lofty, ascetic perch enjoying only “difficult” books and sneering at everyone else reading Harry Potter or whatever. I’ve read Harry Potter and I mostly enjoyed them. I read a lot of fantasy books too. There’s not too many snob points to be claimed there.

Like everyone else, I like what I like.

Do I want to watch the Inbetweeners 2? No, it’s not my cup of tea really. Does that mean that I look down my nose at everyone who does watch and enjoy the Inbetweeners? No, of course not. Wee and poo jokes can be very funny. Be more secure in what you like and don’t like: it’s only your opinion and you shouldn’t feel so worried about what other people might think about what you like.

Honestly. It’s not hard, is it? Why don’t you just grow up.
(do you see what I did there? There’s probably a fancy literary term for that, isn’t there? No idea what it is, but I’m sure it’s clever)


  1. Back when I was in high school, my best friend (valedictorian of our class) and I (my HS's first ever National Merit Scholar) were talking about the sitcom we'd both watched the night before. One of our teachers overheard us, and asked why we were watching that drivel, and went on to say that he expected us to be watching more intelligent fare, like Masterpiece Theater or Nova, that would stimulate our minds. We replied that we did watch shows like that (we actually both happened to really enjoy Arthur C Clarke's Mysterious World), but sometimes we just wanted to shut off our brains and be entertained.

  2. You think you have it hard? Try being an articulate woman with a middle class Southern accent. Oh yes, black too. Actually.

  3. Well, I don't think I have it hard.... but you raise a good point.