Now Playing: Better Than Revenge by Taylor Swift (she had to know the pain was beating on me like a drum)
I'll admit I'm not the most well-read person.
And by that I mean that I could tell you anything about feminism, or asylum seekers, or Harry Potter, or a few of my favourite Korean dramas. By that I mean I could tell you I have stacks of books, I sleep surrounded by books, and I've just ordered in more. But I don't spend a huge amount of time reading, and I haven't dug very far into the literary canon.
Do you know why? Because it's boring. And pretentious. And a stupid way to measure intelligence or cultural sophistication. Read because you enjoy reading. Read something that inspires you. Read whatever makes you think, makes you question, makes you challenge. Read even if it's not reading; read if it's watching, read if it's listening, read if it's looking, read if it's just having fun. For fuck's sake, do not think that inhaling books for their titles or for their authors is by any stretch of the imagination an achievement.
All the time parents come to me and tell me that their children aren't reading. They are; children are always reading, and they'll get to the good stuff eventually. They're reading what you don't consider to be reading - magazines, Twilight, surfing the net. Let them. If it's really trash, they'll get over it. If they don't, then it means something, even if it doesn't mean anything to you. All the time parents come and tell me that I must read so much, and that their kid will never be as good as me because all they do is watch television. They must hate it when I tell them that all I do is watch television, too. It's not what you read, but how you read; it's not what you read, but what you get from it. I wish people knew that. I have nothing but the greatest respect for literary canon, and some of the 'classics' are my favourite books. But not because they're classics. I haven't touched Twilight with a ten foot pole for years and stamping the word 'classic' on it won't change that.
My true passion is popular culture. How bloggers communicate, how vloggers communicate. Street art. The power of advertising. Film study and analysis of those mega-budget TV shows that are constantly being churned out. This has always been a huge part of my training and is a huge part of why I love what I do. In high school my English teachers taught us to study film, to study art, to study poetry, and all my classmates turned their noses to it. I loved it. When I first got to uni the first course I enrolled myself into was focused largely on film and television and I loved it. I went to bed every night inspired. Surely this is the kind of thing people were trying to cultivate in students, even before televisions were invented, even before mass marketing was a thing.
People are obsessed with studying what is right. When I was little and I was off chasing my English teachers for advice, or even just to talk about symbolism in Star Wars, people were madly cramming sums and equations. It never made any sense to me. English is something I have dedicated my life to. I will always use the skills I have been cultivating since I was a little girl. I have yet to meet anyone who will genuinely require Year 12 Chemistry.
Even in English my classmates were obsessed with learning the classics. I'd grown up in a primary school where nobody read anything at all and suddenly I found myself in a high school where actively engaging in a text wasn't the point; it was what you read. You haven't read Lord of the Rings? No? Why? Was it too hard? Did you not understand it?
I am tired of people looking down on what I do. Yes, I study what people consider to be common entertainment; Shakespeare used to be considered in the same way. The works of Shakespeare have only really been considered worth studying relatively recently; in his time, his plays were banned from libraries because they weren't considered proper literature. Now they're masterpieces. Who's to say that that won't happen to all the films I watch, or all the TV I stay up watching?
I watch TV in the same way that people should read books. I've only watched about 3 hours of Game of Thrones but I've spent at least 300 hours obsessing over it, pulling it apart, analysing character and plot. I don't do what I do because it's easy; it's not. I don't read absolutely every book that falls into my lap because I don't read like normal people - cover to cover, forgetting the characters as soon as I finish the last chapter. I work extraordinarily hard at what I do, and it's important work. I analyse how media impacts how we see women, how we see LGBT individuals, how we see people of colour. I analyse how representations in the media can be linked to increases or decreases in the levels of rape or violence in society. I can write essays on how movies reflect our attitudes towards certain things or certain groups of people. Psychology backs me up, time and time again. Entertainment has never just been pure entertainment. The books you read because you think you have to; they were once entertainment too, and they were once discredited just like my work is discredited now. Do you really think anyone in the 16th century took Shakespeare seriously? Of course not. You didn't go to the theatre because you were cultured, you went to the theatre because you were bored and you wanted to get drunk and throw rotten vegetables at terrible actors. How do I know that? Not from reading fucking classics.
I am sick of people laughing at what I do. Mock me all you like, all of you know that I am the best English student in the best school in the state and inhaling books, even writing books, didn't help you beat me. You mock the things I study, tell me I'm wasting time, wasting potential, because you can't mock my ability anymore; you all know that I am very, very good at what I do. I am well read, more well read than you ever will be because I'm open minded enough to see the wealth of knowledge and the depth of discussion available in the variety of media that we are privileged to have access to. I had to watch my best friend and his girlfriend laugh at what I do, at the things I study, what I'm passionate about. He probably didn't mean it. Nobody means anything they say to me, because I'm just a little kid watching TV. I've found my niche, and I intend to exploit it. I'll make it, my way. You'll see. Mock me now, because I'll be mocking you later.