Friday, August 5, 2016

Enjoyment in Spite of Flaws

So, no doubt you guys recall that Thoughts on Robots in Disguise post from not too long ago (one of many these past few months). I ended the post saying that even though the show isn't really that great, it's still ok to enjoy it and love it, despite its flaws. I also ended it with a note telling everyone who doesn't like Robots in Disguise to please be polite when voicing their dislike.
Funnily enough, the whole reason I wrote that post was so I could give that ending note. See, not long before I started writing the post, I read a really harsh review on Robots in Disguise and it really discouraged me. While I aknowledged that the show had flaws and still enjoyed it in spite of its flaws, this reviewer appeared to outright DESPISE the show due to its flaws. A creeping doubt entered my mind: again, I knew that RiD had flaws, but this reviewer was so vehement in their dislike of the show, that to began to wonder if it was really all right to enjoy the show when they hated it so much, especially since I agreed with some of their complaints.
This really weighed on me for a while. I felt like I had to justify my enjoyment of Robots in Disguise. "I KNOW it's got flaws! The story is a little clunky and it's not as good as Transformers Prime, but the characters are so enjoyable to watch and I can't help but love it!" It really didn't help that, at the time, I was going through a lot of emotional ups-and-downs.
However, this doubt and worry was soon taken away after an absolutely amazing and incredibly encouraging answer to my dilemma from babycharmander on Tumblr. You can read said answer below or read the original post here, and don't worry, I'm reposting it with her permission.

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Do you ever love something, like a toon or game, but the you read a review that bashes it for understandable reasons, and/or bash it for things that make up why you love it so much? And then you wonder, "is it right for me to love this thing so much when this person seems to hate it and brings up good reasons for hating it"? If you do know what this feels like, do you know a way to get past it or something…? Just wondering…
- Anonymous

WELP you came to the right person, friend, ‘cuz you basically described like, a good chunk of the stuff I love. :P
(oh gosh this got really long I’m sorry)
I will have to preface this by saying that I have dealt with people hating on nearly everything I love (sometimes because they honestly hated it, sometimes because I specifically liked it) for my entire life, and I have kindof had to build up an immunity to stuff like this because if I felt bad for liking things or stopped liking things just ‘cuz of what other folks said, I would like nothing and be utterly miserable. This is something I’ve had to learn to deal with over the course of my whole life.
BUT I think you can still learn to live with this kind of stuff! So let’s see…
Something you love got bashed for understandable reasons! Okay, so what are those reasons?
Is the thing you love bashed because maybe it has dialogue that’s poorly written or poorly acted, or maybe it’s a game that’s full of glitches, or maybe because it has plot holes? If that’s the case, you’ll just have to accept that the thing you like is flawed. Which applies to most things! All creative works are flawed in one way or another because they are created by humans, who are flawed by nature. The thing is, a creative work is not necessarily bad because it is flawed. It can still have good things in it that outweighs those flaws.
Like, okay, specific example–I hear Labyrinth get bashed because some of the acting might be bad. Is it? …I don’t really know because I’ve watched the move 500000 times and can probably quote it word-for-word. The point is, I DON’T CARE! The movie has a great story and great characters and great music and great atmosphere and a great moral and great practical effects and who cares if maybe the acting isn’t perfect because that doesn’t change the fact that EVERYTHING ELSE ABOUT THE MOVIE ROCKS.
Another specific example–Pokemon Red! A lot of folks like to be all cynical because ooooh the first gen games are so glitchy and poorly balanced and have such bad graphics and they’re so bad and ~you should feel bad for liking old video games ooooh~ but who cares man, that doesn’t change the fact that I still get a rush of nostalgia from playing a game that I enjoyed as a kid. Is the game flawed? Yeah, but I can still have fun playing it.
So basically–if the thing you like is bashed because it’s flawed, and like, legit flawed, then just shrug and say “okay, but that shouldn’t stop me from loving it because it still has X Y and Z great things that I love about it!!”
Now, moving on–is the thing you love bashed because it has problems for moral reasons? If so, that’s a tougher case, but I believe what I said previously still applies.
For example, I love the Oz books, but unfortunately they have instances of blatant racism in them. They were written in the early 1900s–blatant racism was kindof a thing back then. There’s no getting around that. L. Frank Baum wrote some pretty bad stuff. BUT the Oz books still have some great stuff in them–great characters, great character design, amazingly creative (if incredibly flawed and inconsistent) worldbuilding, and so on. The parts that contain racism are bad–you cannot defend those parts and you can’t really get around that. But that also doesn’t change the fact that the rest of his story is still pretty great.
More recent example–One Piece. Oh gosh the sexism. Oda is very sexist and it sucks a lot and I really hope he realizes how awful that is and changes someday. BUT One Piece still has an incredible story and incredible characters and incredible worldbuilding and incredible humor and so on. Yes, some parts of it are sexist, but that doesn’t mean the rest of it isn’t amazing.
Like, honestly? If you looked close enough at literally any creative work, you could find SOMETHING morally wrong with it, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t like the thing. If something is morally wrong, acknowledge it, understand why it is wrong, move on, and continue liking the thing. An exception would be like, if the thing was made specifically to defend or support a really awful thing (like say, if for whatever horrible reason the entire reason the story was made was to defend racism or something???) then I might step back and think long and hard about if you should support something like that. Otherwise, as I said, keep liking the thing.
OKAY, moving on–something you like got bashed over the stuff that made you like it! Well, crap. That’s definitely gonna make you feel bad.
This is also a thing I’ve encountered! I LOVE the video game Cubivore: Survival of the Fittest because it’s weirdly violent, over-the-top quirky, oddly cute, and flat-out different. But in nearly every review I see for it, it gets bashed for how weird and quirky and nonsensical it is!
Same with the movie Return to Oz. I love it because it’s dark and because it’s closer to the books and isn’t afraid to scare kids and uses different characters that other Oz stories tend to neglect–and those are the reasons a lot of people HATE that movie.
In this case, you’re going to have to accept the fact that you like different things, and that your tastes vary greatly from mainstream stuff. Not everyone’s gonna like the things you like. It sucks, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t like those things!
Now, this is something I’m still learning, and if you like stuff that tends to get bashed a lot, you’ll have to learn this too–don’t watch or read the reviews. Say a new review for Return to Oz crops up in the tag. Maybe there’s a chance the person will be praising it, and that would be cool, but there’s a far greater chance that the person is gonna be bashing it and whining about how it’s too scary and too different from the musical. Sometimes I’ll have to step back and say “you know what, it’s not worth it–if it turns out to be a negative review I’m just going to get upset and angry, and there’s nothing to be gained in that. I like the thing and I’m happy with the thing, and the fact that someone else doesn’t like the thing should not affect my own happiness. Instead of wasting my time listening to someone else’s negativity, I’ll do something else instead.”
Of course a lot of times I just give into the temptation and read/listen to/watch the review anyway and wind up regretting it later. LEARN FROM MY MISTAKE! Ignore the review, ESPECIALLY if you KNOW it’s going to be negative!
In short–know that some people are not only going to not like some of the things you love–they may hate it. But that should not impact your own happiness. The fact that someone else hates something you love–even if it’s for a good reason!–does not mean that you should not love that thing. Acknowledge that the thing you like is flawed, and continue to celebrate the areas where it excels. Acknowledge that the thing you like may have moral problems and understand why they are moral problems, and continue to enjoy the positive parts of it. Understand that some people may outright hate the thing you love, and continue loving that thing.
99.99999999% of the time, there is nothing wrong with loving the thing you love. Please don’t let the opinions and views of others harm your own enjoyment and happiness.

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So there you have it. I hope babycharmander knows just how much this answer encouraged me. After I read it, I decided to up and make my own 'review' of Robots in Disguise, one that allowed me to aknowledge its flaws, but also let me gush about how much I enjoy the show in spite of its flaws.
Sooo… Yeah. I'm terrible at writing conclusions. Honestly, everything that could be said here has already been said in babycharmander's post. Most of the time, there is nothing wrong with enjoying a flawed cartoon, book, game, or whatever. Aknowledge that its got flaws, and then list all the things you love about it, and don't let other people bring you down because of it.

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