Opinions are a dime a dozen—like noses, everyone has one. Their excess, however, is not a good reason to keep them to ourselves. Time and time again, I see people nodding in agreement when they really feel like shaking their heads no. I do it myself.
But there’s no need to.
Instead of agreeing, we need to disagree, though not simply as a matter of point. We need to disagree when someone says something that’s clearly hogwash. Hell, we need to disagree when something could be hogwash. Stand up, cast off those societal crutches, stop nodding, and disagree. After all, disagreement sparks debate, and debate goes a long way toward a better understanding of the subject in question.
Nothing stopped famous playwright George Bernard Shaw from criticising William Shakespeare (yes, even the old bard had his naysayers). Shaw once said that, “With the single exception of Homer, there is no eminent writer, not even Sir Walter Scott, whom I despise so entirely as I despise Shakespeare when I measure my mind against his. It would be positively a relief to me to dig him up and throw stones at him.”
Harsh words. And make no mistake about it, Shaw sounds like a first rate jerk. But he’s done something that many people are afraid to do for themselves: he’s spoken his mind when it wasn’t likely in his favour. And that should be admired.
This, of course, puts me in a rather precarious position. I’m a pop culture blogger—opinion is all I have. In theory, given the amount of time I devote to film and literature (and a little music and theatre as well), my opinions on those topics should be relatively well informed. When I say such and such a movie or book is worth your time, it’s safe to say that my reasoning is more or less sound.
That’s my hope, anyway.
Nevertheless, that doesn’t make what I say any more valid than what other people say. God knows, I’ve voiced opinions that run contrary to those of the general public and critics alike.
For example, I think that The Godfather II is grossly overrated (Francis Ford Coppola should have stopped after the first film); I believe that much of the “indie” music scene is self-inflated; I find that most big screen comedies are outrageously unfunny (I’m looking at you Will Ferrell); and I wholeheartedly believe that formal education/training creates more bad artists than good ones (specifically in the case of writers).
Maybe I’m right; then again, maybe I’m wrong. I try to make informed opinions, but they’re likely no more informed than the opinions of most people. I’m bound to be wrong a good deal of the time–that’s one of the three certainties of life: death, taxes, and being wrong.
So disagree with me. Tell me I’m full of it. Don’t just sit there and nod your head–it’s not healthy.
But then again, what do I know? It’s just my opinion.
Rowing For Pleasure is a weekly opinions column written by Z S Roe. Please leave a comment or question—all opinions are welcome, and all contributions are greatly appreciated. If you like what you read here, please subscribe.