Subjectivity

*WARNING*: This is a rant! I very much need to write this down as it has been bugging me for a while, and where better to express that than the Internet, right?

At my Summer Ball Everything Everything were the headline act. I was over the moon about this, I really love both their albums and was super excited to see them. I understand, however, that they are not to everyone’s taste. And that is fine, music is a subjective thing, and it would be impossible to find a big act that absolutely every single person there would want to see. But one particular friend of mine was extremely vehement in expressing her dislike of them.

At our hall’s end of year BBQ a friend asked how the ball was. When it came to Everything Everything my friend piped up with “Oh they were rubbish, we saw one song and just went to the other tent.” In the interests of truth and variety I then said that I had actually really enjoyed them, but of course they are more my sort of music than for some people. I thought that would be the end of it, and we would move on to complain about the lack of bars (1 for 3000 people… not the best organisation!) But no: “No, they’re so bad, they’re boring, so mainstream and they cannot perform at all.” “Well… I liked them, I know some people don’t.” “They’re just so rubbish” – said to the girl asking, without any acknowledgment of me, or my opinion. (Just as a bit of background, and something that annoys me almost equally as the main problem discussed in this post: the girl in question is self-professedly ‘not that into music’, so her complete vehemence on the matter shocked me quite a bit; she is also very very far from being ‘hipster’, so I found it really quite odd that she would phrase her argument in terms of them being ‘mainstream’ – the favoured word of complaint for most hipsters.)

I do not mind if my friend doesn’t like the same music as me; music preferences are entirely subjective and just because I like something, it doesn’t mean that other people have to. At least that is how I view that sort of thing. Clearly my friend doesn’t, because of course her opinion on the matter is final, and there is no question of subjectivity. That is what really annoyed me – not once did she say “Well, I think” or “In my opinion” or even just simply “Well I didn’t like them at all”. There was just the final proclamation that the band was rubbish and that was that.

I intensely dislike that sort of attitude. It is impossible to state a fact about an opinion – let alone an opinion about something so subjective as music, or indeed anything under the hugely broad category of ‘art’. There are several instances in which I do not agree with my friends on a film, or a band, or a book or anything to which the only response can be an opinion rather than a statement of fact. And that is fine, if we all agreed on everything life would be extremely monotone. But thinking that your opinion should be taken as fact, and expressing it in that sort of way seems, at least to me, horrifically arrogant and ignorant. Without a sense of subjectivity we would go about life stamping out any variety and interest in the world, just to make sure everyone agreed with our own opinion. I would hate to live in a world where there was no debate, no difference, no subjectivity. And I would hope that the majority of people feel the same way, and in this case I’m not sure a difference of opinion is particularly favourable.

What do you think? Should people be more aware of subjectivity, or does an unrelenting opinion show strength?

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