In Praise of Self-Absorption
Ok, so, recently I have heard and read reviews of many of the things that I enjoy, from books to music, as well as television. Most of them contain the phrase "Self-Absorbed" in some form or another. In all of these reviews this term has been used with the utmost contempt, the reviews themselves are often (if not all of them) positive, but in a certain cynical voice. They level the sort of "it is too smart" or "the critic's will love it" argument that plagues so much of entertainment. Now I will admit to the fact that I both consider myself at least partially "Self-Absorbed" and smarter then the average person, but more importantly then these facts is my opinion that the world is not improved by entertainment (be it film, music, book, or television show) that does not in some way challenge or expand the intelligence of it's audience. I'm not saying that we should abolish all forms of entertainment that aren't composed of SAT words and complex plots with twisting moral arguments and dynamic or innovative relationships. But I do believe that we should not automatically dismiss, or possibly worse, indulge them only as high minded critical darlings. Passing these things off as only meant for a snobbish elite does work to satisfy those of us who wish to be included in that category but does a lot more to the people who accuse us of being self involved and uncaring of the problems of others. And instead of "dumbing down" these programs we should instead encourage more people to give them a chance, instead of dismissing them or indulging them we should ask that they should be given a chance not only from the audience they are target to but also from those who could enjoy it if they put in a little effort.
but to get back to my original point. I think that the things that cause these kinds of entertainment, and here I will give some examples, "studio 60 on the sunset strip", the works of Dave Eggers, the music of Bright Eyes, and various other literary darlings, indi films, and emo front men, to be called "self absorbed" is the same thing that makes them good. These artist are so self examining and introverted that their expressions are made in the forms of them selves. They become the protagonist of their own creations, which while it does fit the definition of "self-absorbed" doesn not warrant such a negative connotation. Yes these characters are often pleading to be loved or indulged, but how many of us don't want those things. What is important is that these artist take what are common desires and explore them, dissect them, and extrapolate them to try and discover more about them and how to resolve them and what they mean about us as people. And I will definitely grant that this is a difficult thing to do without actually being self-absorbed but most of those things fall short on so many levels that the monacer of "self-absorbed" is pushed out of the review by words like: flat, blundering, or terrible. I will also admit that some of the things that I have mentioned above do fall short on some levels, sometimes Aaron Sorkin can be a bit pandering, and sometimes Bright Eyes can be a little to hopeless, and there are a boatload of flaws in Emo (which I contest have little to do with self-absorption and more to do with issues of sexuality and male posturing) but these flaws have nothing to do with the inherent "self-involvedness" of the work, they stem from the standard human flaws.
but perhaps I'm just to self-absorbed to think otherwise