I suspect one of the greatest reliefs for my mother in her current household setup is that she no longer has to share a TV with us. She still shares a house with my younger sister, but the house has both a living room and a den, and my sister can have her own TV where my mother doesn’t have to watch the various things she watches that Mom doesn’t like. While we do have things that we all enjoy, I grew up in a household of very distinct tastes, and we’ve gotten in the habit of letting each other have the loves that we have. There was no taste shaming in my mother’s household, at least not to one another’s faces.
Oh, I’m not strict about it. There are some fandoms I have nasty words for. I just don’t go on about it, because it’s not as though my nasty words are going to change any minds. You might be able to get people to see really odious things—racism, for example. But “I just don’t like that thing you like”? You know, you’re not going to change anyone’s minds by just being mean to them about what they love. Your heart and your mind go the way they go, and you can’t really change that.
Take anime, for example. Now, as it happens, I’m fond of anime. Not all of it. Lord, some of it’s bad. Some, probably most, of everything is bad, and we move on. But at the same time, some of it’s good, and there is no reason to act as though it’s all bad. Insulting an entire medium—and as I’ve written about before, anime is a medium and not a genre—doesn’t make you look good. Insulting all its fans doesn’t convince others that anime is bad; it makes them look askance at you. Especially if, every time it comes up, you’re rude and dismissive. Anime, superheroes, romantic comedies—if you can’t even come across a mention of them without being mean to the people who enjoy them, that’s kind of troubling.
I’m not saying you have to like everything. For example, I find martial arts movies boring pretty much across the board. The distinction here is that I do not act as though I’m morally superior for finding them boring, and I certainly don’t act as though everyone who enjoys them is stupid or even just wrong. They just have a different opinion about a genre. That’s fine. Ever since Graham stopped trying to make me go watch them with him, others’ liking for martial arts movies hasn’t influenced me literally at all. My aunt and uncle lived happily together for decades with her going to see action movies in the theatre while she stayed home, and they had one of the best marriages I’ve ever known.
All that said, you know, I think dipping into the thing you’re so dismissive of is probably good for you. It’s amazing how often people feel the ability to dismiss an entire genre—or, yes, medium—without even a small awareness of what it actually is. There’s a blithe assumption that you can dismiss anime without having seen any of it, even just My Neighbor Totoro. An anime music video of which I am fond suggests that perhaps you shouldn’t be that guy who gets all obsessive about anime without having seen more than just Akira and a couple of episodes of Dragonball Z, but there are people who will go on about despising anime without even having seen that much. And I promise you that those two things are not even close to enough to have an opinion about anime from.
Basically, don’t be a jerk about what other people love. Don’t be a jerk about what other people can’t stand, either; just because someone doesn’t like your preferred genre or director or what have you, it doesn’t make them a bad person. They just have different tastes, and that’s okay. My mother loves John Wayne a heck of a lot more than I do, and while I suspect she’s disappointed that she can’t share that love with any of us, it’s not like she’s disowning us over it. (If she’s disowning me, it’s not over John Wayne, I promise.) She probably just wishes she could sit down with her daughters and watch her favourite movies.
Actually, cool story about my mom which kind of sums the whole thing up. She saw Galaxy Quest, I think in the theatre. And we were still talking pretty regularly at the time (like I said, this is not a John Wayne issue), and she told me about having seen it. She told me she thought it was funny, and she’d really enjoyed it. But, she said, she thought I’d like it better than she did. Because I like Star Trek and she doesn’t, and she figured Galaxy Quest was probably going to be funnier to me. Mom let me go to a Star Trek convention with a friend when I was in high school. She maybe found it embarrassing that I wanted to go, but she didn’t forbid it. And she could have, because I was like fifteen. That’s the most control you can have over anyone’s tastes, and she didn’t even try.