Friday, May 09, 2014

Cultural dealbreaking

Today, the AV Club asks: What's your cultural dealbreaker?

I'll bite.

From about 7th grade through the first years of college, someone's taste in music could very much determine whether that that person could be a good friend or girlfriend. Not because I was ever a music snob, but because at the time one's taste in music often drove everything else about their personality. For example, I remember showing up to school on the first day of 8th grade (in 1993) all Zack Morrised out, only to see most of my classmates sporting long hair, flannel and Doc Martens, and most suddenly acting as morose as Kurt Cobain. This not only pushed me away from some lifelong friends, but also made me hate Nirvana for years (I love them now, further proving that personality can drive such taste).

As years went by and people forged more of their own identities apart from whatever music they enjoyed, it mattered less to me. I'd tolerate loud, crappy frat sludge or (to a degree) country music in my girlfriend's car if I liked everything else about her. As music faded as a dealbreaker, though, politics mattered a lot more. I felt that having political beliefs was a sign of caring about important things, and even if I disagreed, those beliefs made one interesting. During college especially, I friended and dated conservatives and even enjoyed debating them. More often than not among my friends, I'd be the only liberal in the room and they'd enjoy ganging up on me (this got uncomfortable for a while after 9/11). But more recently, politics has become a major dealbreaker — as much as I consider myself open-minded, I don't see myself spending time with anyone enamored with the tea party or with authors of a Glenn Beck ilk. Such ideology traffics in the premise that half of Americans (and, by definition, me) are vile people who want to undermine the country we live in. That's neither true nor anything I feel compelled to defend in most conversations. I don't think I could get over that like I could if their worst flaw was that they liked Alanis Morissette's "Hand In My Pocket." We can joke about bad music, but misinformed politics can damage someone's soul.

Also a dealbreaker: Anyone who tells me what I have to like or what not to like, hipsters.

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