Cognitive dissonance in the appreciation of media
The previous post may have been trifling for a lot of people. Some people may even have seen it as an eccentricity. It wasn’t for me, however: the point of the post was to seek a buyer despite the fact that I was fully aware the book was valueless and worthless for the most part. The reason was not that I did not have any money: on the contrary, I have a significant amount. The reason was that I wanted to affix some value to the book even if it was only monetary, because it would have signified some worth to the book.
I didnâ€™t expect that many replies, but I appreciate the people who have read my post and made sense of it by making fun of it. Thank you, Baka-Raptor and company. I was even amused that a lady (I assume) named rei wanted to purchase the book! The post was fun, and the commentators were, too. (Rei, I’m very sorry.)
That was only an example, however. There are a lot more objects and ideas a good number of people deem valueless or unimportant that one person or a few consider important. Of course, there are also movies and anime series like these.
A notable anime series like this is Golgo 13. From what I have read in the anime blogosphere, a lot of people dislike or disdain the character design, the repetitive plot, and the whole storyline of the series. A lot of people refuse to talk about it, perhaps in respect, and the few who do post about it (as I have read) have not really commented positively towards the series.
Are these series then unimportant, because they are in disapprobation with the hoi polloi? I do not think so.
It is because in the end, what matters most is the viewer. The singular viewer, the individual, is the one who will give meaning to what he watches. He may watch the most pedestrian series; he may read the most trite novels; he may love the critically-bombed movies. At least, however, he is very much entertained, and he gleans some knowledge and information from it, whether that information is in agreement with the other viewers or is unique.
Even if he knows that what he’s watching or reading is banal and repetitive, as long as he is able to obtain meaning, enjoyment, and knowledge from whatever he watches it is all right. I bought The New Astronomy because I was enamored by the cover. I recognized that the information it contained was very much obsolete nowadays, but I read it anyway and hoped to place an external value into it (monetarily, in this case) because there is a cognitive dissonance: I am in agreement with the people who speak of the book as totally worthless and valueless in this time, but I am also in disagreement because I placed some value into what I read. As I could not resolve it within myself I sought an external force (in this case, a monetary value), to resolve this internal conflict of mine. Even if people deemed it valueless and worthless, as long as I got even an insignificant remuneration from them I could get rid of the book (proving it valueless, at least to me) by giving it to them but also placing value in it (the insignificant remuneration, which proves it has some value).
By ‘exchanging’ the book with some considerate friends (purchase is unacceptable to use in this context because they were hesitant to buy it: I asked a friend to treat me for a meager amount and after he did, I gave him the book). This resolved my dissonance: I had some proof that it had some value (by virtue of money), but also purged myself of it (by giving it to my friend).
We face these dilemmas everyday. We ignore some, but some disorient us in such a way that we seek external forces and resolutions to solve those problems, such as what I did. I also did something like this when I first watched Honey and Clover. I knew I was a straight man, but Honey and Clover was for women! Therein lay the dissonance: and my solution was to justify that josei, just like shounen, were only the targeted audience. It did not suggest homosexuality of any sort, however, and thus my dissonance was rectified.
Our justifications do make us sane. Sometimes. 😉