Jessica at The Velvet Cafe has a rather good post about guilty-pleasures. Those things one likes of which “society” disapproves, for reasons of taste. The context of her post are films, in particular films she likes that “critics” do not, and those films that receive fulsome critical praise that she that (perhaps) make her think watching paint dry is a more valuable activity. Of course, these things are not restricted to just films, but to hobbies, books, clothes – even to the friends we make and the food we eat. Jessica, in her wonderful prose, says essentially to hell with all that and that these pleasures are all guilt-free, and to stop apologising for not liking the accepted “greats”.
All of which I very much agree with, because this is pretty much the attitude I have had my entire life. Not through conscious choice however, or any sense of it being somehow a “better” way of looking at the world, but through obliviousness.
One of the classic features of Asperger’s Syndrome is the inability or reduced ability to perceive social cues, especially nonverbal ones. This can be one of several reasons why someone with Asperger’s has a tendency to be something of a loner. Being a loner, of course, means less exposure to all those social cues, so even less opportunity to experience how the rest of the world operates.
This can manifest in a number of ways, and in my case one of the ways it shows was and is a certain bloody-mindedness about not caring about what the rest of the world thinks. My favourite colour, for as long as I can remember, is pink. I think this was a source of trial for my father on more than one occasion. For years, until hard use had reduced it more to a collection threads that a serviceable garment, I wore a full-length cloak (for most of my twenties). To be sure, I got a fair few insults hurled at me, such as Batman, Superman, Frodo, Harry Potter. Of course, they failed to understand I was hardly going to be insulted by people telling me I was a hero or superhero 🙂 .
Likewise I remember getting into a very energetic discussion with my English Literature teacher when I was 17 about whether Tolkien should or should not be considered a great author. I wish I knew more now than I did then, because if I did I would have reminded him that Charles Dickens was nothing more than a writer of the most populist fiction of his day 🙂 I still maintain that Guy Gavriel Kay, Lois McMaster Bujold, C J Cherryh, Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman and Tolkien are all as good, if not better, than many modern authors who are awarded the “literary” fiction prizes – and I basically don’t care what others think about this view.
This stubbornness persists in me to this day, though I can mask it sometimes when necessary (sometimes I can’t however). In my casual dress I basically have no fashion sense. If my clothes do their job of keeping me comfortable and pleasing my aesthetic sense, I basically do not care if others disagree. If there is a pop tune I like, I am happy to admit it even if others cringe. When I was at uni I purposefully ensured a Britney Spears album was followed by a Metallica album. I am utterly unashamed to being enthralled by “Avatar”, regardless of the opprobrium placed upon it by those who disliked the plot or the setting or the eucatastrophic ending (I have been waiting so long to be able to use that word).
The same of course is true about gaming. The last time someone made a querying remark about “growing up” and it being time to stop playing computer games, I reminded them they had that lunch-hour spent a good twenty minutes talking about a soap opera. To be fair to that particular person, she acknowledged the point.
There is a downside to all of this, in that it is possible to get into quite meaningless arguments because I sometimes find it difficult just to walk away, and sometimes I make a point of advertising my differences from the common norm. However, on balance, I think this is one area where my Asperger’s is more of a blessing than a curse.