Monday, June 09, 2014

Redefining taste

I don't think I was aware of this website, so I thought I'd post it and pass it along.  It's a free webzine dedicated to SF.  The  issue above is May 2014 #93.  Inside there's some fiction, and non-fiction, and some links to some podcast as well. 

Over on a separate forum about movies, I posted this short article about Neil DeGrasse Tyson's Top Ten Favorite SF films.
It appears there's always detractors on the internet, and I can understand that, not everyone likes the same thing--that goes for life as well.  Articles of this nature are meant to open the doors for civil discussions, but I swear, I've run into a similar mocking vibe from other SF fans.  They are the ones that sneer at someone else's taste, which I don't get, unless you just like being a troll, and, for sure, there are plenty of those on the web.  But there are also the type SF fan that I've encountered that want to give a bad rap and split hairs over the definitions of the SF genre, which drives me a bit batty.   They enjoy SF, but always discount stuff like Star Wars, or even now, Star Trek, or something else, that doesn't contain elements of hard science fiction in them.  They always want to pigeon hole things, and point out your limited taste or knowledge.  (Eye rolls here).  Anyway, here's a recent exchange with me and another SF fan over the Top 10 movies that Mr. Tyson picked:

I shall call him, Anal-retentive lad...

Anal-retentive lad:   The Quiet Earth, Contact, The Island and Watchmen? Really? My respect for Neil just dropped a few points.

Me:   I kind of thought Contact would be on there.  I'm surprised some form of Star Trek wasn't.  Actually picking the movies he did made him seem pretty down to earth to me.  Would I have picked something different?  Probably, but it's his list.  The only one he picked that I didn't care too much  was The Quiet Earth, but it's okay to at least watch once.  I enjoyed it, but the ending threw me off a bit.

Anal-retentive lad:  I don't think I could do a top 10.  Too hard to eliminate so many great films out there  But easy to dump those four.  And GATTACA is infinitely superior to the cheese/beefcake show "The Island".  At least he chose Deep Impact over Armageddon.  But so few intelligent films.  Where is Primer, Stalker, Pi - ad infinitum.  Where is Ghost in the Shell?  Gojira?  I wouldn't pick any of the Star Trek films, I'd have to go to individual TV episodes, mostly Next Generation.  Call me if they ever make a SF film in the Star Wars series  None of this means I didn't watch them though.  The question, Raymond, (Fight Club - another top hard core SF film) is what films are worth watching again.  And again.  And spending our hard earned money to actually buy them?

Me:  (Actually, I was surprised he would even pick, Gojira or even Fight Club?)

Anal-retentive lad again:  Here demonstrates why the Hugo Gernsback definition of SF should be strictly adhered too.  Notice none of the films I mentioned have starships or aliens in them.  Ever read Blood Music?  There is a whole world out there that I think you've missed out on.

Or maybe redefine your interest as Fantasy instead of Science Fiction.

Me:  Well, I don't feel that I've missed out on anything.  I've seen all the films you've mentioned and enjoyed most of them to one degree or the other: Fight Club, which granted, I would not have consider it science fiction, but it's a pretty good movie, Gattaca, Ghost In The Shell, etc.  The only one I haven't seen that you mentioned yet is Stalker.  I realize that SF can be more than space opera, monsters and aliens, and so forth, but what you fail to realize or at least acknowledge is that other people may have different taste or preferences in a genre or films than you do.  (I'm not sure why that bothers you so much, it doesn't me, and I can allow others their own opinions and taste.)  It does not make your taste superior to someone else's, or their's superior to yours.

I prefer that SF be an open and broad genre and that many different stories and films can be mined from it and that goes for other films and genres.  I don't feel like I should have to redefine anything, perhaps you should lighten up a bit, eh?


At 2:16 PM, Blogger Richard Bellush said...

I usually quote Rod Serling’s definition of SF, because (appropriately, I think) I don’t quite know what it means: "Fantasy is the impossible made probable. Science fiction is the improbable made possible." Sounds good, though.

SF is a species with a lot of varieties. (“Subspecies,” if you prefer, but “variety” fits the “King Philip came over from Germany seeking victory” mnemonic, which is the only way I remember the proper order of biological classification terms.) Insisting that only hard SF is actually SF is like insisting that only beagles are really dogs. That’s not to say one can’t prefer beagles – de gustibus, and all that – but you also can own a great Dane and still be a dog lover.

Top ten lists are also notoriously subjective. Some element of a movie can speak to me for some personal reason while it says nothing interesting to you, and vice versa. They usually do tell us things about the list-maker, but it would have to be a lot flakier list than DeGrasse’s to warrant getting seriously judgmental about it.

At 11:05 PM, Blogger El Vox said...

Again Richard I like your comments and it's always right on the money. I guess some people just can't handle another person's opinion. It's like we learned in defensive driving, some people can't stand to drive behind someone else. Don't ask me why, even if you are driving the speed limit or even a bit faster, it's never good enough for some, so let them go around.

But back to differences of opinion, yeah, it baffles me. If anything we should celebrate that we enjoy the same genre, SF, or that we can appreciate the same art form, movies.

At 8:51 AM, Blogger Roman J. Martel said...

Yes I've noticed this kind of reaction to different opinions since my early days on fan sites. Doesn't matter what the subject is, there is always someone out there with a rigid set of rules, and they can't stand anyone else not "playing by them".

The sci-fi vs fantasy debate will rage as long as the time exists I think. We can all define it in our own ways, and that is fine. I used to think of "Star Wars" as sci-fi, but now I argue that it is fantasy. But I can see it both ways.

But it is that "you're wrong, so you're dumb" attitude that rubs me the wrong way. I don't mind fully electronic scores, so I'm dumb. I enjoy Roger Moore as James Bond, so I'm dumb. I will defend "Sailor Moon", so I'm dumb (although my wife may agree with that one). And yes, "dumb" is just my substitute word for pretty much any other derogatory word they can cook up.

As you said, we're all fans of these things. I think it is interesting that we have different points of view and opinions. But having an opinion doesn't make you right. It is so bizarre to me that some folks treat it that way.


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