Note: I had a very short-lived stint writing a column called Losing My Edge for the now defunct music website amplify.ph. Since the website is gone, I thought I’d put some of the articles up here for posterity’s sake
I once went out on a few dates with a girl who was really into K-Pop. And when I say into K-Pop, I mean OG K-Pop fanatic. K-Pop hipster if there is such a thing, complete with encyclopaedic knowledge of groups and songs that most of the general populace haven’t heard of. My most obsessive moments of fanboying over grindcore don’t even come close.
I tried to understand it as much as I could. I understand fandom after all, and I know how it is to be a fan of something that most people don’t really understand. In spite of the fact that K-Pop is probably diametrically opposite from what I listen to, I appreciate the amount of effort that goes into the production of the songs and the groups. How different is that fandom really from my own love for anything that the members of the band (not the terrorist group) Isis have ever done? (Except for Palms. I fucking hate Palms.)
That’s not the only time I’ve gone out with someone who had different musical tastes. In fact, I’ve barely gone out with anyone who remotely had the same taste in music recently. I briefly dated somebody who unironically listened to Avril Lavigne and Linkin Park. There was one who couldn’t get why people generally hated on Creed and Nickleback, though she said she wasn’t a fan of either band. I’ve also had other unsuccessful dates with women who probably didn’t know who Creed and Nickleback are.
This totally goes against what I believed in my 20s. “[W]hat really matters is what you like, not what you *are* like,” said Rob Fleming (or Rob Gordon if you didn’t the read the book) of Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity. And that pretty much rang true for the majority of my 20s. Like he said, “it’s no good pretending that any relationship has a future if your record collections disagree violently, or if your favourite films won’t ever speak to each other if they met at a party.”
My twenties were all about falling for someone’s tastes in music and film, and these things mattered to me more than what these people were actually like. I can’t count the number of times I fell for someone because they included a Broken Social Scene song in this mix that they burned for me (LOL Mix CDs) or recommended that I watch some obscure indie flick or another.
Of course, I eventually found this kind of shallow as I entered my thirties. It helped that a lot of the cool people I liked apparently had tons of baggage. Either that or they were completely too cool for me. It also helped that as I entered my thirties, I met some interesting people who didn’t share the same pop culture vocabulary. I found out that people didn’t need to get my Monty Python references, or share my love for the Cocteau Twins to actually connect with them.
Also, it seems like the dating pool grows smaller as I get older. While apps like Tinder have made it easier to meet new people, it also made it much more apparent that the people I would actually want to go out with make up a small percentage of the population. Now, I’m not delusional about my attractiveness at all, but the union of the set of people I’m attracted to and the set of people who I think I have a chance with is actually kind of small.
Given this, and the fact that it feels like people my age are posting pictures of engagement rings, wedding receptions, babies, and baptisms every thirty seconds, it wouldn’t make sense for me to further narrow down my chances by excluding people who don’t get why Henry and Glenn Forever is funny.
I’m still not sure if this experiment of not caring about what people are into is working. Whether it’s because of general incompatibility, my issues with commitment, or the fact that I allegedly dress like a fucking roadie (true story), I haven’t been in a serious relationship in a while. I do feel like I need to rethink the importance of what people are into though.
To answer the question I posited at the end of the second paragraph on whether K-Pop fandom is really different from what I’m into: Yes, it is. While I appreciate the effort it takes achieve the perfection in your average K-Pop release, the contrived nature of the genre doesn’t resonate with me.
My taste in music was formed by the inherently flawed DIY aesthetic of punk rock, filtered through the decidedly ugly lens of metal. I inherently distrust the perfect and the beautiful. While having incompatible tastes in music (or film, or art, or whatever) personally isn’t a deal breaker, it can hint at possible difference in values.
In the movie version of the above mentioned High Fidelity quote, Rob (Gordon this time) prefaces the statement by saying that it’s shallow. Shallow or not, liking the same things at least creates the impression of a shared language with someone. Whether it’s real or not, it’s easier for me to feel some sort of connection with somebody who complemented my ratty Best Coast shirt when we first met or argued with me about the merits of Christopher Eccleston’s Ninth Doctor than someone who just spoke to me about politics, or traffic, or her horrible day at work. In the end of, everyone’s still just trying to find a connection with somebody else.