In which I argue both sides.
I use this handy little phrase a lot to preface various hatery statements: “I’m not hatin’, just statin’!” I usually deliver it in a cheerful tone, because I know that my seemingly relentless negativity freaks weak people out. The other day I was having dinner with two girlfriends, and made a public vow not to hate on anything for the remainder of the conversation. The very next sentence out of my mouth was “My god, I fuckin’ hate that dude in that band.” They both burst out laughing (not being weak, they weren’t freaked) and my pal Jessica jokingly fished a rubber band out of her pocket I could snap on my wrist, smoker-style, whenever I felt the need to hate. It got me thinking, so here’s my attempt to work through, for the millionth time, my awesome negativity.
Side 1: BEING A HATER CONTRIBUTES NOTHING TO SOCIETY AND TAKES TIME FROM VALUABLE NON-HATERY PROJECTS
It’s so easy to be a hater. It’s so easy to talk shit with your friends, or to sit at your computer and ruthlessly tear down this and that cultural artifact. I am, well, brilliant at it.
But in the spirit of springtime and new growth (and Jesus dying or not dying or however the fairytale goes today) maybe it’s time to share with the internet something I’ve been quietly working on in the back of my head: letting stupid shit go.
For example: I’m pretty much over Miranda July (this was the last straw).
But who cares? She will, and should, go on being her bizarrely not-avant-garde, surprisingly milquetoast Miranda July self, with or without my approval. My overness of MJ not only hurts myself, as we sort of have a pal in common, and after all, I do so like her hairstyle, it also contributes nothing to the world. No one particularly knows or cares if I am over her or not, and by spending time hating on her I am taking that exact amount of time from my ability to contribute valuable cultural flotsam to the general jetsam in which we all swim.
There is a lot to be done in this world, and do I really want to spend my time chattering on about idiocy?
My personal Achilles’ heel is, very surprisingly, vegan cooking. Vegan recipes, vegan cookbooks, vegan restaurants—my god, there is some horrrrrribleness out there, and it’s so fun to make fun of it. For every great Isa or Bryant-style recipe, there are oceans of cheesecake recipes that are nothing but agave-sweetened tofu in a cracker crust made with margarine. It’s getting better, but soooo sloooowly, and in the meantime all of us thinking vegans with halfway decent palates are throwing our backs out trying to move American-style vegan cuisine away from its 1970s second-wavey roots.* And as a small vegan company, I can’t deny that it irks me when I see products I know to be tasteless crap selling like crazy.
But shouldn’t I just be happy people are eating vegan food? I always say that my cooking is my activism, so shouldn’t I gratefully recognize all those dusty dry cookies and weird raw energy bars as comrades in the war against corporate food made with liquid suffering? Why must I be meanest to my own family? Best to just let it go, especially since I have a perfectly lovely vegan business that requires pretty much every second of the day. I should put my head down and concentrate on perfecting myself, not the world. Lead by example, or something.
Plus, all the irritating hippies in my life would say that putting negative energy into the world kills dolphins or something.
Side 2: BEING A HATER, IF YOU ARE GOOD AT IT, IS A VALUABLE AND NEEDED PERSPECTIVE
There is something—a lot, in fact—to be said for standing up and calling bullshit on this or that cultural artifact. Cultural critiques are valuable, because they help to change the zeitgeist. And if there was ever anything that needed changing, it’s the zeitgeist. Always.
And being a hater, at its highest level, isn’t “chattering on about idiocy”—in its finest form, it’s speaking truth to power. And though we all know that power doesn’t ever listen, sometimes others do, and sometimes those others are even more interesting and important than those in power.
Plus, it’s mad fun. However: the trick, which I have not mastered, is to point the hater-laser at exactly the problem and not let oneself get bogged down in personal politics, hairstyles, general douchiness, etc. The phrase “above the fray” comes in handy.
And vegan cooking? Fuck those shitty recipes, shitty restaurants, shitty companies. Quality is all, passion is everything, vegan or not. No exceptions. My cooking is my activism, which is exactly why it can’t afford to let itself become associated with bullshit.
And also: fuck those fucking hippies and their stupid fucking negative energy bullshit. I’ve seen that attitude sink ships time and time again. If no one ever speaks up about the icebergs ahead because they don’t want to disrupt the flow or whatever, we’re all doomed. Flow disruption is what it’s all about.
(As I said, I need to work on the “above the fray” part.)
Thoughts, you smarties, you?
PS: Floor is done! Beautiful cork to replace cracked and broken linoleum! I’ll toss a photo up soon.
*Vegans have been around forever, whether Buddhists in Japan or Pythagoreans in Greece, but I do think that in the West, what mainstreamy people think of as “vegan food” is this horrible rubbery lump of awfulness that was sort of codified in the 1960s and 70s by hippies and back-to-the-landers (and my parents, who didn’t raise me vegan exactly but had a vague feeling meat was contrary to their hippie/druggie style) re-discovering granola and millet cakes.