Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Wednesday Factoid: Used to Like

Today's Wednesday Factoid is: Have you ever felt embarrassed by things you used to like?

Tough question. For the most part, the answer's a pretty solid "no"--I frequently still like things if I ever liked them, and don't see any point in feeling shame if someone else thinks what I like isn't cool. But there are also numerous things I liked in my childhood that I see huuuuge problems with now (or that I saw problems with then but still enjoyed), and I know the difference between liking something while accepting it's problematic and feeling like I have to deny that it's problematic.

I liked some insipid things as a kid. As a little child I loved Woody Woodpecker and The Smurfs, but when I was in elementary school I think I must've been obsessed with Popples for something like two full years. And let me tell you something. Popples? Is embarrassingly awful when I look at it now. It's clearly one of those 80s cartoons created to sell toys, the plots are pretty much all the same, and the characters are annoying--every single one of them is annoying. I think I liked the idea of secret intelligent creatures that kids kept hidden from their parents, but other than that the cartoon show itself wasn't super entertaining to me even then. I think what I liked most about it was that I noticed a bunch of patterns in the character designs and I liked documenting them. Did you know there are three large Popples and three middle-sized ones and three small ones? Did you know there's one boy and two girls in each of those size groups? Did you know there's a predictable pattern that dictates what color their ears are in relation to the puffball on their tails? It's true man. And even though there's not a lot redeemable about the franchise on any level I care about now, I obviously am not embarrassed about liking it if I have all my Pocket Popples on a shelf in my bedroom as a woman pushing forty.

Man I loved those toys

I guess we develop embarrassment about things we used to like because they stop being cool (but I never had that issue) or because we recognize something about that thing that we didn't recognize back then which makes us like it less. For me, the latter is probably the closest I've had to being embarrassed about what I used to like: there were some books and movies I enjoyed that I found out later included racist perspectives I didn't catch, sexist attitudes that didn't make me uncomfortable enough to stop consuming the media, or portrayals of people with disabilities that were inspiration porn or harmful inaccurate perspectives that I didn't have the perspective to avoid falling for.

But what's interesting is that people just straight-up expect you to be embarrassed of your former self over a lot of things. Like, how common is it for us to look at the hairstyles and fashions of yesteryear and straight-up laugh at what used to look cool to us? I think that's really weird actually. It's a little funny for me to look at, say, photos from my middle school years and remember that that's really how people dressed, but once it's far enough in the past we start to romanticize it in many cases. I'm not embarrassed at all that I liked puffy paint sweaters and Swatch watches, all right? We all did.

Look, I rocked that perm.

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