I just finished watching Stranger Things on Netflix, which I thoroughly enjoyed. It was a lot of fun and very suspenseful. It’s rare these days for me to find a show that I am excited to keep watching (see also: The Night Of on HBO. Wow). There are a lot of “good” shows out there in peak TV time, but not as many that suck me in and keep me coming back for more. There’s so much TV available that it’s easy to jump ship at the first sign of boredom.
But I was actually excited to watch Stranger Things every night.
After I finished, I went back and started reading the reviews and recaps of the show. One phrase that kept coming up—in podcasts, on Twitter, in the reviews—was “I know it’s not perfect.”
I’ve been hearing this a lot lately. It’s a deflection. It’s a way to shut down an argument at the start. “Whatever you’re about to tell me, don’t bother. I’ve heard it. I get it. This thing I like has flaws.”
That’s not to say that we shouldn’t view things with a critical eye. We certainly should. But I think it’s because we currently live in this very noisy, contrarian, polarized, binary world—this is good and this is bad, everything is black and white, we demand perfection—we are always looking for a way to shoehorn our opinion into places where it’s not wanted or asked for. It’s basically the only reason Twitter exists at this point.
To spin this post off into politics (OF COURSE, it’s 2016), I think this is a big part of the reason we early Hillary Clinton supporters were so quiet. Every time someone would find out I wasn’t a Bernie Babe, I’d get the spiel—“Here’s what’s wrong with Hillary. Here’s why Bernie’s perfect. Here’s why you’re wrong for supporting her.” It’s exhausting. You’re not going to change my mind, and I’m not going to change yours.
In conversations with other Hillary supporters, I’d hear (I still hear), “I know she can’t be trusted. Or emails. Or something about her tone.” Every “I’m with her” was/is coupled with, “But I know she’s not perfect.” Meeting the criticism head-on was and is simply self-preservation.
Saying Stranger Things isn’t perfect comes from the same place. “I like this thing very much, but I want you to know that I know you might not feel the same way and that you might feel the need to point out its flaws to me just to prove that you know they exist. I know they exist as well. There is nothing you can tell me that I don’t already know. We both know the talking points.” It’s a way to end a conversation before it starts.
Stranger Things doesn’t have to be perfect. Hillary Clinton doesn’t have to be perfect. Nothing is. No one is.
Even the most nearly perfect movie or TV show has its critics, and that’s okay. It makes things interesting. It’s why we even bother bestowing critical awards or holding elections. If the most perfectly impeachable candidate was always the right answer, maybe Bernie’d be king by now. Or maybe not. Because, guess what. He’s not perfect either. But I’m sure you knew that already.
I wrote a book! It’s YA novel, THE SOUND OF US. You can find the details right here! Kirkus calls it “a winning story about a teenage voice student that hits all the right notes.”
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