The Top Ten Things That Are OK to Hate

With the incessant advertising that has become ubiquitous in America, there are any number of things that we are told that we should like. As well, there are certain cultural phenomena that seem to really take hold for a while and make those who “don’t get it” feel like aliens. The following list is for all of those people who are afraid to talk at parties about those cultural monoliths that are above reproach.

1. ABC’s Dramas- I have seen some of ABC’s dramas, including “Lost” and “Desperate Housewives,” and I guess I just don’t get the big deal about these shows. I know “Lost” is one of those shows you have to see from the beginning, but it seems to be an average show that has too many stories and casts juggled in the air at once. The difference between this show and others, like “The Sopranos,” is that while I waited to watch most of “The Sopranos” on DVD because I was interested, there is nothing intriguing to me about “Lost.” The same can be said about “Housewives,” which is a way for ABC to try and be clever and risque enough to draw attention but not good enough on plot or character development to make it interesting.

2. iPod- I’m not sure what the upward limit for exposure to iPod is, but I think I am reaching it. As a consumer, I am glad that there are alternatives to iPod if only because I am sick of seeing and hearing about iPods and Apple in general. The iPod craze is about upmanship, with one iPod giving way quickly to another one that is smaller, and then quickly to one that has video, and I am sure in the very near future one that can read other people’s minds or create a holographic projection. Sorry, but I am not interested and I will try to stave off insanity and listen to my Dell MP3 player.

3. Kathy Griffin- Bravo has created yet another artificial star in Kathy Griffin, whose humor is cliched and annoying and her personality grating. She played a character very similar to herself without the irony on “Seinfeld” and Bravo continues to trot her out to do showcases and her series centering around her career as a “D Lister.” The joke was old immediately but Bravo wants to ram it down our throats.

4. “Survivor”- The CBS show Survivor has run through its various permutations and I think it has run its course. They have already done the All Star option, usually reserved for a struggling show looking for viewers, and all of the challenges on the show are old news. With Jeff Probst a star due to this show, it looks like he will succeed Regis Philbin on his ABC morning show and without Probst, the show loses the polished leader who has made Survivor interesting when the characters have failed.

5. John Kerry- The 2004 presidential election should have gone the Democrats’ way and Bush was certainly ineffective at discerning himself as superior in terms of policy. But the constant attacks on the aloof Kerry worked and Kerry was convinced that if he challenged the 2004 election in Ohio and other places, he would fall off the face of the political world. However, Kerry would have shown strength of his resolve and how much he cared about leading America by challenging corruption in Ohio. Instead, he proved the Republicans right by giving up before the fight was through.

6. Bob Dylan- Typically, one wouldn’t think that clarity would be the defining characteristic of a good or bad singer. But Bob Dylan has been riding on the laurels of his great songs of the 1960s and 1970s over the last thirty years and has become increasingly incoherent. Sorry, but Bob Dylan’s music has devolved into a caricature and Bob Dylan himself looks like the Crypt Keeper.

7. Independent Movies- Just like the greatness of the movie should not be defined by the size of its budget (read: Waterworld), the hip-ness of a movie should not be measured by the dwindling size of its budget. While movies like Ghost World, Bottle Rocket, and Swingers have been great, the scene has changed over the last five years to include more big movie actors with marginal talent, instead of the minor actors that are more closely connected to grassroots movie making. The independent movie scene is becoming less independent and true cinematic freedom is becoming hard to find.

8. Baseball- When opponents of sports like soccer complain about the low scoring in other sports, they seem to be forgetting that some of the greatest games are “pitchers’ duels” which end in 1-0 scores and some of the worst are high scoring affairs. Baseball drags on while the pitchers shuffle on the mound, the hitters step out of the box for time outs, and managers try to buy time by going to the mound for relief pitchers. Tune into a game for the first pitch, tune out for three hours, and then head back for the good stuff.

9. “Apocalypse Now”- I rewatched this movie again for the first time in a couple of years and I realized that I didn’t like it so much as I liked knowing the references to the Vietnam War and insanity in Francis Ford Coppola’s characters. However, Marlon Brando’s performance is overrated (and truncated) and while Martin Sheen was decent in the role of man hunter, it was not a defining performance. Like many classic movies and songs, “Apocalypse Now” is more about the hype than about being a great movie.

10. The Democratic Party- The Republican Party has made it their business to do more Democrat bashing than governing over the last decade. However, they are correct in pointing at the Democrats as a party without a direction. For a party founded by Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren in protest of Democratic-Republican one party system of the early 1820s, it has lost its direction as an organized, purposeful political body. They have an opportunity to make up for it in 2006 and 2008, but what should be a slam dunk in the midterm elections looks like it will be a fight for survival. Another cycle without Democratic gains may mean the demise of the current party system, with the Democrats being reconstituted in another form.

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