Negative Nancys, Haters, and Why We Criticize Justin Bieber

Norway Norwegian Olympic curling curler team in ugly bright red plaid pants
Maybe if Americans wore awesome pants like the team
from Norway, we could recruit great curlers.  
Americans expect greatness.  We demand it. We watch the Olympics and don't understand how an event could be American-free on the trophy podium.  How can this be?  We are the greatest nation ever!  It must not be a real sport!

And when we don't win.  We complain.  We're good at it. And if we complain loud enough, the people with money hear it, and they make changes (unless it involves politics, then it's the same old, same old).  Take the example of Gene Chizik.  Two years ago he bought brought the Auburn Tigers a National Title with the help of Cam Newton.   They beat my team fair and square, and I am no longer bitter about that.  Two years later, Chizik is unemployed.  His team lost every SEC conference game this year.  Unacceptable Gene.  "We hired you to win," said the people of Alabama.  Not once.  Every year.

Somebody else can do it better.  At least that's what we are told.  It's the American way.  Bring in the heavy hitters, and if they don't win or push us into the black, then push them out the way they came  (but with a huge severance package or golden parachute, so they don't sue us).

But it's not just big university sports teams and big corporations doing this--we all do this.  We watch television and grow tired of things.  "That's dumb" we say, while watching a show we loved two seasons ago,  "I expected more from Grey's Anatomy!" Yeah, cause it established itself as such a high brow, intellectual, standard bearer for medical shows when it debuted nine years ago?

Guy drinking Sunny D Sunny Delight Orange Strawberry in dorm room with no sheets and dreamcatcher above bed
Sunny D: Preferred by guys who don't use sheets and
hang ugly dream catchers over their bed.  
Rubbish.  It's always been dumb.  You just liked its dumbness when it was new.  Like looking through the fridge and drinking Sunny Delight after its pull date.  "This tastes nasty, you call this orange juice!"  As if even fresh Sunny D tastes anything like OJ.

My point is, Gene Chizik, Grey's Anatomy, and Sunny Delight are all watered down products thrown to us by marketers who expect us to think they are something else.  They're sugar coated, which can trick us into giving them awards and accolades, and keep us guessing, but they are not the "real deal" that Americans have grown to expect.  Remember, we expect greatness, perfection, and masterpieces; you can fool us with some smoke and mirrors for a while, but at the end of the week, we will want our money back if something doesn't perform the way it says it does on the packaging.

We even turn on people who might be the real deal.  Look at Justin Bieber.  He's universally hated for being so popular.  We hate him because we don't like his looks or his songs or his voice.  But lets face it.  He's better looking than 99% of guys, sings better than 99% of guys, can dance better than 99% of guys, and his songs have a certain catchiness that is radio friendly.   It's not my kind of music, but I don't understand the hate.  I don't have to listen to it.  We don't have to do anything.

So why so much anger and hate?  Why, on any website with comment sections, does some troller eventually steer the conversation away from its original intent and say something like "Justin Bieber is a lesbian!"  Hurray for American humor and originality!  As if it hasn't been said a billion times already on other sites.

Smart girl debates professor teacher attractive college girl makes a dumb point
"So, you're going to validate my
insane theory, simply because
I'm one of the more attractive people
in the class?  I'm good with that."
Why do we try to destroy everyone else?  Jealousy, obviously, for one.   But the other less understood aspect is that we have been crafted to expect greatness.  We are taught to critique masterpieces, whether it is a Renoir, or Huckleberry Finn.  We are taught to judge history by today's standards, with no bearing on the situations back then. Our assignments? Criticize and find fault in everything, rather then be taught how to actually create something original.  That is a flaw in our education system.  Somewhere in schooling, we stop allowing the finger paint projects, and start teaching them to judge other's finger paintings.  "Look how this "artist" predominately uses her left hand thumb when smearing the primary very apish...not at all what we should expect from a kindergartener..."

Hyperbole? Yes.  But think about your college education.  How often did the class turn into a war between those who liked a certain work, and those who thought it sucked.  In college we  deconstructed our masterpieces until they were unrecognizable parts on the ground.   I remember those who hated The Great Gatsby because Nick Carraway (the narrator), wasn't a well conceived character.  As if his paper thin involvement in the story had anything to do with what Fitzgerald was actually trying to say in the novel.  Because of this character, they didn't like the book.  Really?  Why not say, "it just wasn't my thing."  Justin Bieber isn't my thing.  But I'm not going to hate the guy or say he isn't talented.  Kim Kardashian, maybe, but Beibs has some flat out skills (they just don't appeal to me).

So what do we do to change?  Well, we'll never stop complaining--unfortunately, that's in our nature.  And America is great because we expect and demand greatness from our talented people.  I don't think that should change. But we can do something about the overly vocal whiners.

South American jungle shelter made of native plants
"Sleep there? Are you kidding me?  I'd rather curl up
next to a tsetse fly larva nest."  
My proposal.  Round up the 100,000 worst complainers/trolls/Negative Nancys and party poopers and throw then on whatever island Survivor was planning on filming next season.  Let them complain and get bitter, and criticize the little accomplishments of the few who try to rise above the negativity.  Eventually they will get emaciated and desperate and hopefully lose the attitude.  Finally, after hitting rock bottom, they might be able to reenter society and help build something bigger than their own egos.   Some won't, though, and would die on the jungle floor, but not before saying, "You call this a shelter?  I'd rather get pneumonia than sleep one night in this shoddy workmanship..."

There is a lot of shoddy workmanship out there, from television, to e-books, to music, to local sports, to everything you participate in.  It's not horrible to expect something better, but it's also easy to change the channel.  If your going to complain really loudly, you better be able to actually back it up with your own skills.  Cause even though my Seattle Mariners have been sucking it up for the last decade in MLB, I still, not even on my most athletic day, have the ability to make contact with even one pitch over 90 mph.  Which I realized while in the midst of creating a website called, and thankfully, was refunded my domain hosting fee after scrapping the idea.  So if you want to create a website devoted to criticizing me, please call it, www.ChrisPlumb,author,, as I'm aware of this malady, and would love to see your solutions.


I wrote this piece before the shooting in Portland and the even more horrific story in Sandy Hooks Elementary school, and thought about scrapping this story and writing a piece lamenting our culture.  A million words are swimming in my head about those events, but, I think rather than add to the already mounting commentary, I will just say, PRAY.  For all of us.  We have become a negative species, and that negativity has made us angry and imbalanced.  Despite our politics, religion, economic status, health, or life experiences, we need to find a way to re-experience happiness and positivity regardless of the darkness around us, or risk being swallowed into that insanity that lets anger dictate our actions.  And for myself, whenever I've been frustrated beyond words, or felt the imbalance of emotions take over, I have to pause, and pray, and find the world will hopefully correct itself tomorrow, and love will always find a way.

1 comment:

  1. Chris... I am beyond moved by your words. What I would give to be a student of yours. You have so eloquently and wholly spoke my mind.

    I've, once again, been (almost) rendered speechless.

    Being a good person is so... SIMPLE. Use your gut, don't use people. I have a canvas in my apt. that says "Live every moment, laugh every day, love beyond words".

    I find it heartbreaking that society can't figure out how easy it is.

    Thank you for striving to make a difference.