Guys! Guys! It’s finally here! "Avengers: Endgame" was released in theaters last week, and I can hardly contain myself.
I'm a huge fan of these movies (which I realize makes me unique in no way whatsoever), and I’ve been trying not to get too swept up in the hype of this newest entry’s approaching release date, but I’d also assigned a small corner of my brain to excitedly watching April 26 get closer and closer. In that time, one of the things that has been interesting to observe around this particular pop-cultural phenomenon is the negativity it can inspire in some. At least among the social media I use, I’ve barely been able to see a single expression of enthusiasm for the movie that hasn’t been pretty quickly rebutted by some declaration of disinterest, dislike or even disdain for the whole Marvel cinematic enterprise.
It’s not surprising exactly. There’s probably some kind of law of physics at work here about equal and opposite reactions. The greater and more widespread the excitement for a thing, the more inescapable the hatred for it.
My knee-jerk response to these “haters” is to dismiss them as bitter, villainous figures, stroking their chins and hating the Whos down in Whoville for their songs of joy, but when I give myself time to really consider it, I have to do the fair thing and admit that I’ve been on that side of the pop-culture war when it comes to a lot of things that people love.
In fact, I still hold firm to my stick-in-the-mud position on many of these things.
Just last month, a friend invited us to a Wrestlemania watch party at his house, and I honestly tried to have an open mind, but I just couldn’t fight the eye-rolling. I have a similarly hard time living and letting live about any reality program that centers on bachelors or bachelorettes. And don’t get me started on Jimmy Fallon. I just … really don’t like Jimmy Fallon. I’ve lost sleep thinking about how much I don’t like him; it’s not healthy.
So I guess I can use my observation of Avengers haters as an opportunity to critique and improve myself. To that end, I think I can say that there’s nothing wrong with not liking something. And I even get the tendency to react bitterly when that thing hugely flares in popularity. But upon reflection, I think the weirdest thing we do with things we don’t like is try to prove that they shouldn’t be liked at all. It’s not enough for us to level criticisms at a piece of music or a movie franchise or a boyish and bland late-night talk show host; our brains seem to need us to rationalize how we’re correct to hold those opinions while others are wrong. Often, we even attach moral weight to our tastes, deeming the stuff we don’t like corrosive or harmful to society.
That’s weird, right? Generally, we do our best to co-exist, but get us started on Justin Bieber, "Fifty Shades of Grey" or the New England Patriots, and suddenly our righteous hatred is absolute and our determination to vanquish the offending material is unshakeable.
The world is wide enough for all of it (except for Jimmy Fallon), and we’d do well to remind ourselves of that every time we’re about to lay into somebody else’s favorite thing.