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 didn’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. 😉

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13 Responses to “Cognitive dissonance in the appreciation of media”

  1. Baka-Raptor Says:

    I still think you’re kinda geyyyy. That line you’ve been using on me, I looked it up. Brokeback Mountain. Are you into men, or is there a cognitive dissonance there too?

  2. Kaiserpingvin Says:

    This was a very clever followup. Very clever indeed. Shouldn’t it have ended with “JUST AS PLANNED”, though?

  3. Michael Says:


    You were unfamiliar with that line!?

    I’m not into men. I’m into ShizNat, which is gay, too. Niahahaha.


    Keikaku doori?

  4. Kaiserpingvin Says:

    Well, unless you didn’t plan this in advance. Which I doubt.

    Now, a question: couldn’t you have let the previous post itself be justification for the original purchase? It gave, after all, a small dose of entertainment and a venue to embark upon this concept like a pirate ship with ninja in sight?

  5. Lelangir Says:

    lmfao @ BK

    “The singular viewer, the individual, is the one who will give meaning to what he watches.” Meaning-as-experience? Well I guess you know my views on experience and analysis.

    I had no tremblings of cognitive dissonance when I watched HC, Fruits Basket, Ai Yori Aoshi, etc. etc.

    I like the whole external force trying to legitimize the internality of things. I guess I would have looked at this as a form vs. content thing as usual; all forms of knowledge are equal – ontologically – and so in this case the epistemology is irrelevant.

    While in that sense everything is equal, you can still take a content-based or pragmatic perspective and say that anything that sucks is worthless. I’m kind of on both sides.

  6. Baka-Raptor Says:

    I don’t know what it’s like in the Philippines, but in America, being seen at a geyyy cowboy movie makes you geyyyyyyyyyyyy.

  7. Ryan A Says:

    Interesting, I never felt any dissonance with regards to H+C or any other shoujo/josei, dunno why, just sort of fell into the enjoyment of the heroine… usually they shine and its a wonder why more males don’t enjoy the females characters of the genre. Given, H+C felt much less feminine than titles such as Fruits Basket.

    I missed the last post ^^

  8. Michael Says:


    Good point. But for me there is no visible value in simply writing that post. I wanted something palpable, and so I ‘sold’ it.


    I’m somewhat also traipsing both sides. I do look into the practicality of things, but I also enjoy some things even with their apparent lack of worth. I actually purchased that book because I liked its form, just like what I did about a year ago with a book on writing proper e-mails. lol

    Most of the time I’m just into content, because I wouldn’t have bought second-hand novels if I was that into form.


    The machismo of America is much more outstanding than it is here in the Philippines. A good number of people in this country are homosexual, and there’s actually little wrong in watching a critically-acclaimed movie. It’s not as if adults will emulate what happened between (P)Ennis and the other guy, but it is a film that has its own merits: it’s among the honest explorations of society as a limitation to love.

    The same can be said regarding Lust, Caution. Supposedly, people watch it only because of its NC-17 (or X) rating. I can watch pornography; Lust, Caution, is so much more. The sex scenes, visceral as they can be, represent a significant part of the story (from resistance to submission, and finally to love, if you looked closely) and only builds up the majestic tragedy. People here are less judgmental, but I guess that’s because Philippines in and of itself is a melting-pot of a lot of different cultures.

    That’s a premature assessment, because although homosexual people enjoy the film, intelligent and unbiased people do, too. It’s the whole lot of mediocrities and retards who look upon the film as some sort of gay parade. (I know you’re joking, and I full well know you’re intelligent, but just saying.)


    As I’ve said, there’s a lot of hindrances with regard to the men’s need for machismo, to become some sort of alpha-male as Baka-Raptor discusses in his recent
    . I’m not the typical man, and I’ve no need to prove it. If the payment of rebellion is eccentricity, then so be it. 🙂

  9. ShortCircuited Says:

    tl;dr: value of media, assigned and intrinsic…

    Anyways, Mike asked me once again to comment on his latest post, and while doing so, I ended up having a lot more to say than I expected, as can be seen above and below. More specifically, this one line really caught my attention after a re-read:

  10. Michael Says:

    hikago: btw, I replied 🙂

  11. Lupus Says:

    I guess I’m very different to you intrinsically, but I never feel the need to find external justification for my enjoyment of something the way you do. I don’t get that kind of cognitive dissonance. It is usually enough for me that I felt the emotion of joy or happiness in experiencing something – that itself is enough reason for me to place a positive value on something. Sometimes I listen to a song in a genre that I don’t usually like, but I enjoy it, and that is enough. Similarly, I read shoujo and enjoy them and don’t give a shit if other people think I’m gay, because as long as I derive some value from it, that is enough for me.

    I guess it’s because I don’t always give a shit about what other people think about me, so I don’t feel the need to find some value that ‘the world’ agrees on, or to proof that value was had from the experience.

  12. Ryan A Says:

    I agree that America is highly based in this machismo, and it comes from the culture (though America is also a “melting-pot” the people here usually think alike; money), that culture being competitive capitalism and/or the power of breeding workaholics.

    I don’t quite buy into capitalistic America, because it really blinds individuals over generations [see religion also]; basically it tends to create individuals who rely on certain predispositions they trust, but may not be what they personally feel upon further investigation. I’m not talking about capitalism in general, simply the idea of “success” we have in America.

    Where does the alpha-male fit? The alpha-male does not like that which challenges his meaning of existence… in this case gay individuals in love, who are quite possibly more content than said alpha-males. I suppose this in it self is a sort of C.D. but one seemingly easy to take defense upon. But how can the alpha-male, the epitome of success (respective to a group) be challenged by these things which society has not deemed “valuable”. I believe it to be the inner self seeing that something is valuable, and seemingly more valuable than current values, thus creating a dissonance, and in turn, a threat. [do alpha-males feel empty yet]

    Ideas which are threatening…. interesting.

    In short, I contrast with Thorough on the lines of conformity. We shall do, what we do, but assessing our level of conformity is meaningless and unnecessary. Purposely not conforming, why? It just feels like causeless rebellion, and I’m sure almost every 20 year old has been down that path.

    I’ll walk this road, but I care not what that road means to others.

  13. Jan Says:


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