*Say Nothing

I realise that the conventional wisdom is that diversity of opinion is a good thing, but I simply cannot embrace this concept myself. I think a great deal about what the world would be like if everyone just agreed with me about everything and I have to say that it looks pretty good to me. I would be able to watch television all day and all night, the shows would be so to my taste. If I looked up a film review on Rotten Tomatoes, I would no longer need to be in great suspense waiting for the ‘tomato meter’ to load because of my knowledge that, depending on what it says, I may have a, possibly cancer-inducing, stab of hatred for my fellow man.

In fact, I would be interested to know whether anyone ever genuinely feels that another person is entitled to their point of view. The thing is that if I didn’t believe that any given opinion of mine were the only one that any reasonable human being could hold, I wouldn’t have it. Reading or hearing a viewpoint that is contrary to one of my own makes me extremely tense, I have to tell you. I’ve had whole days of truly detesting close friends, merely because they saw profundity in Lost in Translation.

An ex-boyfriend of mine would refuse to watch The King of Comedy with me because he knew that it was one of my favourite films ever, and so seeing it in my company would be ‘too much pressure’. While this annoyed the living Christ out of me at the time, I have come to develop some sympathy for this point of view. I am always in a most nervous state when I am, for example, watching a television program I love with someone I like, because of the possibility that, if they don’t feel as I do about it, I will loathe them and they will think that I am an idiot. And it is so awful when you buy one of your favourite CDs or books for someone and then never hear a word from them about whether they liked it! I always desire a report not merely on how great whatever it was is but exactly how in awe the recipient is of my massive intellect and acumen.

I must tell you that this week I had a horrible time reading ‘Books that made a difference to John Cusack’ in the Oprah Magazine online. (I wonder which books, aside from his bank book, made the difference that caused him to sign up for Serendipity? Or America’s Sweethearts? Or the upcoming Hot Tub Time Machine?) Many women of my age, thanks almost entirely to his fine work as Walter ‘Gib’ Gibson in The Sure Thing and as Lloyd Dobler in Say Anything (and maybe even as Roscoe Maibaum in Class, a little bit), have wanted to marry Cusack at one point or another, so it gives me no pleasure to say that his list of books does not make for very exciting reading. It features exactly the works one would expect to find on the list of anyone who, like Cusack, is flamboyantly liberal, such as Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine (which, he confides, he had the opportunity to read in galleys). Similarly, movie stars who have a reputation for being ‘quirky’ or ‘outside the Hollywood establishment’ are always mad for JD Salinger. Therefore, I could not have been less surprised to see on the Cusack inventory Franny and Zooey, which, for such a short volume, really does ramble on interminably. I would so much have preferred to see named, for instance, Boy George’s Take It Like a Man, a book I truly could not put down.

Speaking of musicians, the worst thing of all about the Cusack list is that looming in second place is Bob Dylan’s Chronicles! Now, Bob D has been pulling the wool over everyone’s eyes for far too long, in my opinion, and that’s even without taking into account his born-again Christian phase or his involvement in Hearts of Fire. Imagine my horror when Cusack states, with entirely unwarranted admiration: ‘Dylan says he was OK with being an icon, but when people tried to turn him into a messiah, that was no good – I thought that was pretty great.’

And the only thing worse than dealing with one person who holds a different opinion from me about anything is dealing with two people who do. What I abhor the most is when a couple has mad notions about what is good and bad. I always find this particularly irritating because, I believe, twosomes egg each other on in their crazy opinions, and there is often one member of the couple who isn’t even exercising independent thought. I recall a husband and wife with whom I was good friends violently hating Sideways! I can’t understand even one person hating Sideways, let alone two. In a situation like that, one party obviously has a spooky hold over the other, due to sex or cooking, or through holding the purse strings or being the one who owns and can operate the car.

I find it one of the more intriguing aspects of the human condition that one can have no confidence in almost any area and, in fact, be tormented by self-loathing, and yet this state of affairs can sit so easily with having complete assurance regarding one’s own opinions about everything. Harry Knowles, say, may not always be sure of himself while talking to women but he appears to have absolute faith in his estimation of, for example, Astro Boy. And I am all in favour of that, as long as his estimation coincides with my own.

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