Alternative Perspective

A look at British culture from an outside perspective and a look at American culture from an outsider living within it's borders.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Ooh look! A blog... how original.

It's days like this that I wonder about myself. You swear blindly that you're not going to start a blog, because, frankly, everyone seems to want a blog and has this unusual belief that everything they say is crushingly important. I suppose if I were to throw out a cliche right here it would be that 'opinions are like assholes' comment, but that pretty much devalues an opinion almost as much as a blog does.

I had a blog before blogs were blogs. In that regard I like to think that, as one of the first people to very quickly get tired of updating a blog and throwing it away, that I was ahead of the curve. Now millions of people have gotten and forgotten blogs. You hear people say 'I was going to start one of them blog things.'... actually, I've never heard anybody say that, way to undermine my own point there... but I'm led to believe people do say it, and judging from most of the blogs I've seen, they must. What they don't seem to understand is that unless they have something interesting to say, that nobody is going to read it. All the best and most read blogs are about something, even if it is the author's life. Take the wonderful 'I am a japanese high school teacher'... it's about something more than what restaurant the author went to, and what Mary Sue said about children with polio on the way there.

When your opinion is searchable, it's pretty much worthless unless you're a name. The only people who read it are going to be people who were looking to agree with it, or to disagree with it. By my experience most people only care to read things written by people that agree with them, and get angry at anyone who disagrees with them.

This is of course highly entertaining at first, but as time goes by and you run into more and more people with these kind of beliefs, you can't help but feel that maybe people in general aren't as worthwhile as you thought. Of course you'll soon realise that people in general aren't generalisable but until the feeling passes it can be a bit disconcerting.

Talk radio callers fall into three camps. You have group one, the butt kissing camp, who haven't an original thought in their head. The 'Sean, you're a great American' camp. I wonder why they listen. This isn't a dig at any supposed biases on talk radio, or on any one political viewpoint, but on the sheep like nature of so many of the people that call in. Perhaps sheep is the wrong word. These people agree with everything the person on the radio says. Do they think that somehow that's validation of their opinion? I guess so.

Next you have the angry 'no opinion but my own is right' camp. They call in to vehemently disagree with the talk show host, and seem incapable of doing so without resorting to insults and telling the host that they are flat out 'wrong'.

The third is sadly the smallest. Those whose viewpoints do not totally concur or contradict the host and who want to discuss the various issues in question with them.

Why do I listen to talk radio then? Well, to 'vet' my own opinions actually. I rarely agree with the viewpoints raised on the radio, but I find people like Jay Sevron argue their opinions very eloquently. Understanding that people who have different beliefs to you can be smart, and can defend them with well reasoned arguements, is a big step to understanding that your own beliefs need to withstand such people. If they don't, you really need to reasses them, and listening to talk radio is a great way to provoke debate.

I'm a horror fan. There's few tags that I would like to be defined by, but I am, without question, a horror fan. There's something about the scary movie that strikes a chord within me that resonates. I have no shame in saying that this goes beyond the mere enjoyment of the odd film, and borders on the obsessive. My DVD collection is probably 2/3rds genre films, and last weekend I went to the cinema on Friday, Saturday and just for good measure, Sunday, to support George A. Romero's latest horror movie. Good or bad I try to catch any horror film that makes it to the cinema at least once... I can't say I ever went three days in a row before. I'm not done yet either, I'm planning on going at least one more time next week.

This isn't as wild a tangent as you'd think, for me it's doesn't even register on the wild tangent scale. As ever, Romero's zombie movies double as political commentary, and what's been interesting about the reaction to it within the horror community are the assumptions that people have been making about other people. Apparently the message is a typically Liberal one. Apparently if you don't like it you must be a conservative. I mean lets ignore for the moment that there are more than two political philosophies, and lets ignore for the moment that people of many different philosphies worked on the film. It's this kind of thinking that bothers me. You can be an intelligent liberal, conservative, socialist, marxist, libertarian, whatever. Political viewpoint is just personal world philosophy and if most people woke up and paid more attention to what was going on around them, they'd realise that they probably didn't completely side with anyone of those. Each has things you'll agree or disagree with, it's just a matter of deciding which one shares the most of your beliefs, or is right for the time in which you're voting. Romero's films are deeper than most horror movies because they provoke debate. Social commentary isn't the same thing as a message movie, and it's the prior that Romero does so well.

So what is my Blog going to be about? Probably about two months before I get bored again, but we'll see. More seriously, it hopes to be, what it claims to be. An alternative perspective... on many things... not just politics, but film, music, immigration, videogames, television, crime, the price of petrol and just about any aspect of modern culture you can shake a stick at.

Even when I was living in Britain growing up, I was a bit of an outsider. No, that doesn't mean I didn't have any friends or girlfriends, it just means that my opinions tended to differ from those of the people around me. I never really felt much of a part of British society. Moving to America, I feel even more of an observer than I did in England. I hope if you are reading my Blog, and continue to read my blog that you will enjoy it as just that. A different viewpoint on the world you live in. A different view of America to you'd get from an American, and a different view to Britain as you'd get from someone living in the country. I'm not looking to change anyone's minds, just broaden the canvas which they use to form their very own and very unique opinions.

Who knows what we'll talk about later, but for now, this is about as good an introduction to this Blog as I think I can manage. Next time, maybe I'll do more to introduce myself.

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