Elitism is something that plagues our society, from important political issues right down to the every day aspects of our lives. The music we choose to listen to, the games we choose to play, the people we choose to associate with, we all have different tastes. Unfortunately, sometimes we forget this fact. Sometimes we forget that other people don't always see things the same way as we do and we look down on them because of it.
It's great to have opinions. It's even better to be passionate about them! But that doesn't make your opinion fact and it definitely doesn't mean other people are automatically wrong just for having a different opinion. It is possible to share your opinions without treating those whose opinions differ like lesser beings and I wish more people would do it.
Through my time on the Internet I've encountered many situations in which I have seen people belittle others for having a difference in opinion, hell I've been the target of that myself. Today I want to talk about some common instances of elitism I've encountered.
It's All Just Sound After All
One of the first places I started noticing elitism was in conversations about music. It's well known around TAY that I'm a huge metalhead. I love metal music in almost all of it's forms and I've noticed lots of elitism both from within and outside the metal community.
The first thing I want to talk about is the hate directed at metal from people who like other genres. The most common things I've heard people say are "it's all just screaming" or "it sounds like talentless banging on pots and pans" or "this isn't music it's just a bunch of noise." Well hold on right there, just a bunch of noise? You do know what music is right?
1. the science or art of ordering tones or sounds in succession, in combination, and in temporal relationships to produce a composition having unity and continuity
2. vocal, instrumental, or mechanical sounds having rhythm, melody, or harmony
Metal definitely fits those definitions. And as for talentless? Metal musicians are some of the most technically proficient people out there. Listen to progressive metal bands like Gojira or Dream Theater (a band made up of Berklee College of Music graduates) and tell me that there's no talent. Hell, there are symphonic metal bands like Epica and Nightwish that are fronted by trained opera singers.
I'm not saying you have to like it. Just go listen to country or pop or rap or whatever it is you like and enjoy it. Enjoy it with all your heart, just don't think less of other people just because they like a different genre of music.
Now what about the elitism of my fellow metalheads? I'd argue they're even worse. "Oh you like that band? You aren't a true metalhead!" or "If you don't like this band you're a piece of garbage" or "all fans of this band should kill themselves." Oh just get over yourselves. Who are you to say that certain subgenres of metal aren't really metal? Metalcore is just as good as thrash which is just as good as the classic metal stuff. Don't look down on people for daring to like different metal bands than you.
The Great Gaming Debates
We gamers are a very passionate bunch when it comes to opinions. We are passionate about the games we play and the platforms we play them on. Unfortunately we often berate others for having a different choice in gaming platforms.
This is why discussions about the so called "console wars" often turn so sour and hostile. It is perfectly okay to be a big PlayStation fan and not really be interested in what Xbox has to offer. Maybe you love the Xbox exclusive titles but don't really care for the PlayStation ones. That's fine too! Maybe you're a die hard Nintendo lover and the other two do nothing for you. These are all acceptable tastes. Be passionate about what you love! But just because you like things one way doesn't mean others don't.
Far too often I see people calling systems terrible because they don't particularly like them. People proclaiming their system of choice is vastly superior to the others and flat out insulting those who prefer a different console. Sure maybe you like that the PS4 runs at a higher framerate than the XB1 or that you're super excited for all the upcoming XB1 titles and have no interest in games for the PS4. Sure maybe the other consoles do nothing for you. But that does not give you the right to call other people stupid for being interested in different things.
Who cares if the XB1 is running at a lower framerate? Not the people who are having loads of fun with it and the exclusives they love. Who cares if you don't like the exclusives on the PS4? Not the long time PlayStation fans who adore those games. Who cares if the Wii U isn't hardcore enough for you? Not the people having a blast with Mario Kart 8 and looking forward to all the recently announced new games. So stop putting yourself above others just because you like different games and play them on a different console.
Now let's talk about the other gaming debate: console vs. PC. In this day and age we're all familiar with the term "PC Master Race." It's the pinnacle of gaming elitism. "PCs are vastly superior in every way you console peasants." So what if PCs have better specs than consoles? It doesn't matter to those who are having fun with their consoles. It doesn't matter to those who can't afford a powerful gaming rig when they can spend a few hundred on a console that will keep them satisfied for years to come. Who care's if PCs have a much wider range of games? The console gamer who doesn't really have the time to invest in a lot of games doesn't.
In the end it doesn't matter what platforms people are playing on. If people are having fun with their choices, let them do so in peace. Enjoy playing your games the way you want to play them and quit being a jerk to others who just want to do the same.
And then there's the whole idea of casual gamers or not being a real gamer. Far too many times I've seen people who aren't as into games as others treated like dirt by so called "real gamers." I personally believe in a future where everyone is a gamer on some level so seeing today's gamers being so exclusionary and belligerent towards more casual gamers is just sickening to me. As gamers we should be striving towards being as open and welcoming as possible, not act like elitist jerks to those who don't play as many games.
Suba Dub Dub
Another place I've encountered elitism is in the realm of anime. Now I readily admit that I'm a pretty casual anime watcher. In fact I can still count on my fingers how many anime I've watched. Lately I've been getting into it a bit more but I still would consider myself a casual viewer.
One of the reasons I've been reluctant to get into it more was the amount of elitism I came across. Simply asking for a recommendation has always resulted in arguments for me. People always come in and make some recommendations and say why their choices are the best and how I should watch them and how other people's suggestions are not worthwhile at all. It makes it hard to pick something to watch with all the conflicting opinions and people insulting each other for having different tastes.
The biggest kicker has always been the subs vs. dubs debates. The main reason why I'm always wary of asking for suggestions is because I prefer dubs. I have a hard time with subs because I find it hard to concentrate on both what is happening on screen and reading the subs. But a lot of people can't comprehend that. Something along the lines of "I don't have that problem so you must be doing something wrong." is said almost every time it comes up in conversation, and the number of times I've been called a "filthy dubber" is ridiculous.
So what if things get lost in translation? So what if you don't think the English voice actors are as good as the original Japanese ones? I enjoy watching them this way and that's good enough for me. As I've been saying throughout this piece, enjoy what you enjoy the way you want to enjoy it and let others do the same.
It doesn't matter if people don't enjoy things the same way you do. News flash: they aren't you and have different tastes and opinions. That's part of what makes all these mediums so great; everyone has different ways of looking at things and it breeds interesting discussions. The idea that you're better than someone just because they don't share your opinions is absolutely ridiculous.