There are certain phrases that are not only intended to shut down conversation but are intended to impress on audiences with the speaker’s superiority that instead only serve to make the listeners roll their eyes. It is, for example, astounding that in the Year of Our Lord 2022 anyone still utters in all sincerity the sentence, “I don’t even own a TV.” However, any number of people can vouch for the fact that it does indeed happen, ludicrous as that may seem. Is it possible that anyone isn’t aware of how ridiculous they sound when they say it?
No one saying that sentence thinks anyone really wants that information. At best, they think that people need to be told it for their own good. It’s the “even” that clinches it. It’s possible to have a conversation about something in pop culture that legitimately merits the comment “I don’t own a TV,” though that’s less and less relevant these days. While it’s possible to use the internet from your television, it’s likewise possible to watch television on a computer—or a phone. But if you throw in the “even,” there’s an intended tone of superiority there that’s hard to miss.
Similarly, shutting down a conversation about a pop culture point by telling people that you don’t care about the genre can be done well but more often is done in an insufferable way. The other day, there was a discussion about the relative merits of shutting down racists versus the fact that, in general, live action (or, in the case of The Lion King, “live action”) remakes of Disney movies are bad and there’s no obligation to assume this one will break that curse. To which someone responded that, as they are an adult, Disney movies weren’t relevant to them anyway.
Now. It isn’t that, obviously, there are lots of adults who have genuine interest in Disney movies. It’s that there is no possible timing that you could deploy that sentence wtih that would make you look worse. A young woman is being bullied online, and there are issues of bigotry involved that are extremely relevant to the current political landscape. But go on, score points on how immature people who might actually enjoy The Little Mermaid are, regardless of which version they like, because it’s a movie intended for children.
The clincher, of course, is that these people are never really being asked. Sometimes, they volunteer this information without even having been directly addressed in the first place; I for one will never forget the people I met in college who were railing about the evils of technology while watching The Simpsons on my TV before taking a bus to go watch a movie at the mall. Like, yes, there are some downsides to technology, but if you think it’s purely evil, go sit cold and naked in the woods for a while. I think these were friends of my roommate’s, or at least classmates of hers; as I recall, she didn’t much like them, either.