If a potential love interest likes certain novels, musicians or movies that you find particularly distasteful, does that automatically disqualify him for you? Do you think it would be absolutely impossible for you to love a person who loves a particular novel or film that you hate? If so, what are the artistic (or not-so-artistic) creations that cause you to draw a line in the sand?
I myself have very strong literary, musical and artistic tastes--and I think the books, movies and music we like can reflect our innermost depths. If a person cannot appreciate a wide range of cultural experiences, I'm pretty sure I will find him rather small-minded ... and if certain writers, performers or directors (whom I find especially lame or downright sucky) are his favorites, then I assume we won't get along that well.
This comes up because last week, I got a note from a guy who uses the same online dating service that I do. After quickly scanning his profile, I saw that his pictures were quite cute, that he had an interesting-sounding (and well-paying) job, that he was tall. Well, well, well, all rightie, then! I could live with all that ... so I looked a little closer.
To my mild horror, I saw that his two favorite authors--the ONLY two authors he'd listed--were Kahlil Gibran and Ayn Rand.
If you ask me, quoting Kahlil Gibran when you're signing someone's high school yearbook is acceptable (if a bit insipid). But once you're out of your teen years, referencing him becomes lame. As a "poet," he's uninspired. As a "philosopher," he's totally jejune. Which is to say: the guy does absolutely nothing for me. His writing is so flat and mediocre that the fact that it exists depresses me.*
(If anyone wants to argue in favor of Kahlil Gibran, I will do my best to listen with an open mind.)
(I might kick Kahlil Gibran's books out of bed, but I probably wouldn't have kicked him out of bed if I met him when he was a young man, as he was in the picture above. Oooh, la la!)
Ayn Rand is a different story. I won't immediately write someone off just for liking her. She's not a terrible writer, and I can understand the lure of the philosophy she pushes in her novels: that the only truly moral way to live your life is by pursuing your own happiness. It's an appealing idea, of course--but wildly overly simplistic, if you ask me. And I find that a lot of people who exalt her have an overly simplistic view of the world. (Nonetheless, I have at least one close friend who really likes her books.**)
Regardless, I try to think of myself as a fair person, so I wrote back to the guy and said: "You sound awesome! But your two favorite authors are two of my least favorite authors. However, if you want to tell me why you like them, please do; it's possible I'm missing something ... though I doubt it."
He never wrote back. (Ha!)
In related news, one of my close buddies, a novelist, was recently set up with a man who told her, before their first date, that his favorite book was ... THE DaVINCI CODE. Now, admittedly, I have never read this book. But like my friend, I'm a bit of a literary snob, so I think I'm too cool for most bestselling books. (I self-importantly assume that if they appeal to everybody, they probably won't appeal to me, because hey, I'm unusual! I'm an original!) Which is to say my friend and I were both like: Uh-oh, there's no way this guy could be that interesting.
But what do you know: They went out, she had a great time, and she's excited to see him again. So maybe I should shut up about all my snooty literary and cultural judgments? Think?
What about you guys? Do you have literary, musical and cinematic deal-breakers? Do you think there's no way anyone whose favorite band is THE DEAD--or METALLICA--will be your cup of tea? If a guy tells you his favorite movies are all the ones Will Ferrell has starred in--and that he doesn't really watch movies unless they're silly comedies--do you throw him over?
*In fact, back when I lived in D.C., some guy I was dating told me on date #3 that he loved Kahlil, and I scoffed, and we got into a bit of an argument ... and that was that.
**I'm pretty sure the Baby Fireman liked her, too.