Everything is my football

Sometimes in college, I would persuade people to play a game. Name a movie. I probably didn’t see it. If I saw it, I probably didn’t like it. It would usually take over a dozen tries before anyone could name a movie I cared for.

It’s not just movies. I don’t like most television shows, books, or music. Or at least, I probably won’t like any particular example. I’m not snobby about it, and I am not embarrassed about the things I like. I’m just not a fan of pop culture.  Or most other culture for that matter, but pop culture tends to be most relevant.

Put it this way: every year, geeks have a competition to see who can be most loudly uninterested in football. I don’t participate, because everything is my football. If you like most of pop culture except for a few things, you can afford to be a jerk about it. I cannot afford to be a jerk about absolutely everything, so I try not to be a jerk about any of it.

There is no identity label for this experience (I don’t consider myself “indie”), but I still feel there are thematic resonances with asexuality, outlined below. After all, asexuality is also about not liking something that is popular.

What makes an identity

Don’t you just hate it when people just talk about sex all the time, and you don’t care? Personally it doesn’t bother me, because here’s a far more common occurrence: people talk about TV shows all the time, and I just don’t care. Seriously, when you meet someone for the first time, hardly anyone brings up sex as a way of finding common ground for a discussion, but lots of people bring up pop culture. Lots of people tell me that if I haven’t tried something, I should try it because I’ll definitely like it, based on approximately zero information about me. (Looking at you geeks, I hate your science fiction and superheroes so much.)

This raises the question, why does asexuality have the label, but disliking pop culture doesn’t? Why am I an ace blogger, not an anti-pop blogger? Well, if some people want to form a community around not liking pop, that sounds like a fine idea to me. In practice, communities form around alternative tastes (see various indie cultures).

But here’s a thought: there’s more to asexuality than just disliking something that is popular. Asexuality affects whether we have primary relationships and if we do, how treat them. Even if we lived in a utopia where aces integrated perfectly, asexuality would still be a thing, and still demand specialized communities, just like other sexual orientations.

Ace representation

A more direct intersection between asexuality and pop culture is the representation of aces within pop culture. Years ago, when ace characters were a rare occurrence, it didn’t matter where they appeared, I would be excited regardless. As more and more ace characters appear, particularly in webcomics, fanfiction, and YA fiction, I feel less excited, and my “I hate everything” tendencies have reasserted themselves.

This is all to say, I feel disconnected from many discussions of ace representations these days. Lots of people want more ace representation, and more different kinds of aces represented. They want to see characters that reflect their individual experiences. Me, I just want to see ace representation in some form of media that I actually like. I only expect to run into a few examples in my lifetime, so I don’t particularly expect that the ace character will actually resemble me.

Ace culture

I have a lot of contact with gay male culture, a lot of which consists of Grindr, body image issues, and femmephobia. But aside from that, there’s a lot of love for divas. Years back it was all about Lady Gaga, and then it was Katy Perry, then Miley Cyrus, now it’s Adele or something? I haven’t exactly been keeping track. But the point I’m making is that really, these are just pop artists. This is true in general, that a lot of gay male culture is basically just a particular spin on pop culture.

“Asexual culture” is still very early in its development (see last year’s Carnival of Aces for some discussion), but I think it follows similar patterns. I’m not keeping track, but there seems to be a thing for Sherlock, YA fiction, Steven Universe, and fanfiction. Fanfiction arguably isn’t very pop, but I think the other stuff is. Well, whatever the ace community decides to like, I’m resigned to not liking it. It’s fine, really, go on and enjoy yourselves.

Validating diversity

You might guess that having unusual tastes in media helped me come to terms with having an unusual sexual orientation. Actually, it was the other way around. After reflecting on asexuality, I felt more at peace with the other ways I feel different from society.

It’s okay to be different! Lots of people are different, and sometimes we find each other on the internet. I don’t need to alternate between feeling snobbish about my tastes and feeling sorry for myself. I can just be who I am.

About Siggy

Siggy is a physics grad student in the U.S. He is gay gray-A, and makes amateur attempts at asexual activism. His interests include godlessness, scientific skepticism, and math. While not working or blogging, he plays video and board games with his boyfriend, and folds colored squares.
This entry was posted in Articles, Media, personal experience. Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Everything is my football

  1. I identity a lot with this post, because I’m exactly the same way about pop culture. Glad to know I’m not alone!

    • Siggy says:

      I appreciate your short comment because I don’t recall you ever writing about pop culture, and until now I never really considered why that might be.

      • My idea of fun is writing a 1500 word post on asexuality and Islam while other folks are out at the movies or a concert, lol. I haven’t paid much attention to pop culture, except what I pick up from people around me, since 1991.

  2. Elizabeth says:

    This post makes a really good point about identity, and I like how it challenges the perception that some people have about asexuality (“You don’t like sex? So what?”).

    I’m kinda similar, especially when it comes to movies. But with everything else, to a lesser degree—I may be a bit more tolerant or neutral towards things than you. I’m usually *surprised* when I find out that I like some pop culture thing that lots of other aces also like (SU being the biggest and most recent example). I mostly dislike YA lit, and I also strongly dislike fanfiction (despite having gone through a phase as a teenager where I did). I feel like a big part of my problem is that most of the community is younger than me, and I think I’ve really grown out of liking most of those types of things. I really just don’t relate to things targeted towards teenagers or even college-aged people very much anymore. Oddly, I find I somehow actually have more patience for things targeted towards children than YA stuff these days. Unfortunately, although I tend to prefer such things, I also find it hard to find things aimed at adults that I completely enjoy, because I strongly dislike the “grimdark” violence that permeates a lot of things I would otherwise enjoy these days.

    Even when I don’t straight-up dislike something, the degree to which I like it is very much different from the people around me. There are very few things that I’m SUPER into, most of it is more like, “yeah, that’s pretty cool”—and then I don’t give it another thought.

    I think I enjoy commiserating about mutual dislike of things a lot more than I enjoy talking about things I actually do like.

    • “I feel like a big part of my problem is that most of the community is younger than me, and I think I’ve really grown out of liking most of those types of things. I really just don’t relate to things targeted towards teenagers or even college-aged people very much anymore.”

      Yep. That’s a factor too.

      Pretty much every pop culture thing that people talk about ace representation in, I not only don’t watch/read it but don’t want to (also, half the time the representation has very little to do with my own experiences).

    • Siggy says:

      Even when I don’t straight-up dislike something, the degree to which I like it is very much different from the people around me.

      Yeah. I think this is particularly an issue in ace communities, where fandoms have a strong presence. I like Homestuck, which had (has?) a really strong fandom, but I don’t relate to the fandom because the very idea of sharing enthusiasm over a piece of media strikes me as kind of strange. I’m more used to liking media that nobody cares about.

    • Elana says:

      I find that books aimed at about 9-12 year olds are often quite fun. Many are decently written, have some adventure and mystery and humour, and don’t have excessive violence or romance/sex. While there are excellent exceptions, I find a lot of books (and other media) aimed at teenagers/early 20s is very focused on a romantic/sexual storyline in ways that don’t appeal to me.

  3. luvtheheaven says:

    I think a big factor in the cross-section of asexual people & fandom is tumblr itself as a website, which is one of the biggest hubs for both things.

    Did you guys who were in the asexual community before tumblr had an ace community notice as much fandom talk in the ace community at that earlier point in our history?

    I joined tumblr for the fandom – joined it before I even knew what asexuality was, or that I wasn’t straight – and I still use it for the fandom, but hey I use it for asexuality now too, and social justice stuff.

    Also attempts to study fanfiction subculture seem to reveal queer people of all stripes are participating at a much higher rate than they probably exist in the population at large. Archive of Our Own (also known as AO3) is a particularly queer space, moreso than probably other fanfiction archives — much like tumblr has less cis&straight people than average — with one survey revealing 8.3% of AO3 users to be asexual. AO3 is not exclusively for fanfiction, it is for fandom in general, but it is predominantly fanfiction.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Siggy, thanks for sharing your experiences here, and Laura & Elizabeth too. I doubt you’re as alone in lacking these feelings as it seems, even if I am someone on the other end of that spectrum, overly interested in all of it.

    • Sciatrix says:

      I actually accessed ace community through fandom, myself–I found Kaz’ writing (among other things) and other LJ/DW people who wrote about being asexual through larger fandom networks that were dispersed on Livejournal and Dreamwidth. Often I found those works when they were linked through broader discussions of professional SFF, queer-community, or fanfiction scandals/fights/kerfuffles that were spreading over those blog networks in very much the same way that they cycle through Tumblr today.

      Which is to say: in a lot of ways, Tumblr’s not actually all that *new*. It’s a very different platform in a lot of ways in how it disseminates content and how conversations are carried out, but in terms of the content itself it’s not that different from older platforms except that it’s a lot more pictorial and less text-based.

    • Elizabeth says:

      There was quite a lot of fandom stuff on LJ, too. But if you weren’t looking specifically for it, it was less than you’d see on tumblr because as a format, tumblr jumbles everything all together through tags rather than having separate community spaces. You couldn’t browse tags across multiple blogs the way that you can on tumblr, the tagging system was set up so that you could only browse the tags from one community/person at a time.

      And of course because asexuality was way less known back then, there were far fewer fics featuring it. But that said, I knew several ace fanfic authors.

      • luvtheheaven says:

        Right well if Livejournal and Dreamwidth are asexual-hubs too, that complicates matters, because I mean, well lol I joined those sites too for the fandom. Much later than the average person joined them for fandom, but I joined a lot of places because fandom communities were aggregating there. That’s the problem with fandom though – in the internet age of it, every person in fandom has to “meet” their friends online somewhere… As far as I could tell, Livejournal was one of THE go to places for fanfiction AND vidding – for vidding, that was prior to the popularity of YouTube starting around 2006.

        But yeah okay, that’s fair, thanks Sciatrix & Elizabeth here for reminding me even prior to tumblr there was some of this happening. This overlap between fandom and asexuality.

  4. Coyote says:

    “Seriously, when you meet someone for the first time, hardly anyone brings up sex as a way of finding common ground for a discussion, but lots of people bring up pop culture.”

    Oh. Uh. …Where do you live?

    • Sara K. says:

      Siggy lives in the same geographic region as myself. It is also my experience that people rarely bring up sex as a way of finding common ground in a discussion when meeting for the first time around here (though pop culture does not come up so much – it’s more likely to be stuff like ‘where do you live?’ ‘what do you do?’ ‘why are you here [at this place/event]?’)

    • Siggy says:

      There are plenty of aces who say they don’t come out for lack of an opening in any conversation. That’s the way it is for me most of the time.

      • Coyote says:

        That’s…. good to hear.

        Today’s uncertainty brought to you by the woman who proclaimed “I *love* having sex with my girlfriend” within ten minutes of us sitting down to pizza with a mutual friend.

        Admittedly, she was from Boston, so I cannot take her as representative of how things work here.

        • Sara K. says:

          *content warning for people saying inappropriate sexual things*

          As it so happens, a white woman I met just yesterday, within minutes of meeting me, made frequent references to ‘tentacle rape’, and throughout the evening made various remarks in that vein. I suspect she did that partially as an attempt to see if she could unsettle people. That might also explain why she started speaking in Mandarin – she probably did not expect me to start talking Mandarin too (I am also a white woman). I eventually got back at her by making my own mildly sexually inappropriate remark in Mandarin (I basically said that she was a lecher), which she did not understand, but the native Mandarin speaker present *did* understand.

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