I’m watching some really weird anime lately. It’s absolutely hilarious and cannot possibly be summarized in a way that makes any sense to most of the people I know.
I had a conversation with a friend of mine who lives in Hong Kong a few months back. He’s staying in the States for a while and wanted to know if I could recommend any TV shows– whatever’s highly rated lately. I don’t really watch a lot of TV, so I passed on recommendations to him from what I know other people watch. True Detective, Daredevil, Game of Thrones, Orange Is The New Black, Breaking Bad, House of Cards, Parks and Recreation, Battlestar Galactica, The Walking Dead– the kind of stuff I hear about even as someone who doesn’t watch pretty much any TV. I’ve probably forgotten someone’s favorite, but it’s a pretty wide smattering of things that are all highly recommended by a lot of people, and on a variety of topics.
I spoke to him yesterday. He’d watched at least three episodes of everything I recommended, and his take on them was fascinating to me. He found all of them extremely violent, far, far more violent than anything he was used to seeing. At the same time, he thought it was interesting that the romances were (as he put it) so underdeveloped, even in the ones he watched all the way through. He had a number of other comments, and I found his perspective really eye-opening. At first, I had a hard time relating with some of the things he described, and he had a hard time articulating his point of view, not because he isn’t well-spoken, but because it’s difficult to put words to a concept like “this is violent at a very deep level, even when violence isn’t actively happening on screen”.
He described, for example, True Detective as an extremely violent show, not just in the actual acts of violence that are depicted, but in the ways the character move and talk to one another. He said he found the tension extreme, where there was the chance of everything coming to blows at any given moment. I actually have watched True Detective, and I didn’t find it stressful in the same way. He referred me to a number of stories he particularly liked, and while I haven’t had time to watch/read them, I found the references interesting.
I mentioned I’ve been watching some “really weird” anime lately. After talking to my friend, I’m not sure if it’s that the anime is weird or if I just have a skewed perspective. Certainly I can’t in good conscience recommend Scott Pilgrim vs The World to someone who has never played a video game in their life, because an entire cultural subtext is missing that makes the movie charming rather than disjointed and random. I’ve tried to watch Bollywood musicals (they’re all musicals) in the past, and they haven’t clicked, but I see how excited some of my friends get about them and I have to imagine that what’s missing there is the cultural context that makes them click.
I’ve started making an effort to expand my entertainment horizons and try things that aren’t in my usual American framework. The easiest thus far has been anime, just because I already had a foot in that door and it’s easier to get into it here in the States, but I’ve been looking for other things as well. I’ve felt my tastes slowly shifting– I have a continuing disagreement with a friend about the ending of The Wind Rises (I think it’s cathartic and amazing; he thinks it’s disjointed and unsatisfying) and I’ve found myself more seriously evaluating why I like the things I do, and what it is about how I think that makes some things resonate with me and some things not.
That same friend made a comment that really stuck with me, while I was talking about finding ways of enjoying as many different things as possible, finding ways to forge those neural pathways that make certain things resonate with you. He brought up that ever-so-apt adage: “You can’t please everyone”. He’s absolutely right, no single thing will please everyone; it’s more or less impossible.
I don’t think it’s possible for something to please everyone. I do think, however, that it’s possible to become the kind of someone who is pleased by almost everything. I haven’t decided if I think that’s better, or even a worthy goal, but it’s certainly an interesting thought. You would, at least, have a lot of entertainment to choose from.
Source: Digital Initiative
A Someone for Everything