What happens if you’re not interested in seeing that film, or if you don’t have any interest in that television show, or if you’re really not that bothered about that theatre production that everyone else seems to be obsessing over. It might be that film that people rush to see on it’s opening weekend, or that television show that is the big topic of conversation at work the next morning, or it could be that big theatre production that people are falling over themselves to get tickets too.
You’re suddenly different, you’re suddenly unable to join in all of those conversations, you’re suddenly an outsider.
‘Be yourself, everyone else is already taken’, ‘Variety is the spice of life’, ‘Just be who you want to be’. There are countless sayings and well-known phrases out there in the world telling you that it’s alright to be different and to not follow the crowd, but still the strange pressure to be the same and to like what everyone else likes to still there, still creeping into our hobbies and interests and trying to influence the way in which we feel about things.
For example, someone who has only ever seen one superhero movie, and has never had any interest in Star Wars, I can’t even begin to imagine just how many times I have sat in the lunchroom listening to a conversation about the latest release and not had the foggiest idea what anyone was on about. I don’t. The same goes for when someone talks about The Game of Thrones or Love Island, neither of which I have ever wanted to watch, but nevertheless, being unable to join in the conversations does feel a little bit odd, and I can’t shake the feeling that I am just a little bit different from the majority and sometimes I start to wonder if I should watch these things, just so I can feel like I can join in and perhaps fit in.
Why do we feel this pressure to fit in?
When it comes to theatre, a world that I completely and utterly adore, this same strange pressure to like the same shows as everyone else still lingers. One of the most wonderful things about theatre is that there is something for everyone. You might like musicals, you might like straight plays, you might like farce, you might like drama, it’s a pick and mix and you are guaranteed to find something that you will like. But recently, some big shows have made an even bigger impact on the theatre world and, for me, it feels a rather odd sitting here with little to no interest in ever watching these shows.
As soon as I tell anyone that I love Musical Theatre, the first question that comes out of his or her mouths is ‘have you seen Hamilton?’ and I have to say no. And I feel no shame in that. Yes, Hamilton is big, it’s massive and it’s suddenly propelled the world of musical theatre into the mainstream, opening it up to people who may have never even considered seeing a musical before, which is great, but I still have absolutely no interest in seeing it. I cannot deny that it has some songs that I find decent, and I don’t mind listening to them, but could I sit through an entire musical of hip-hop music? No, I really couldn’t. Yet, for some strange reason that I can’t quite put my finger on, I still feel like I should like it, just because the majority of my fellow theatre enthusiasts do.
When ticket’s for the London transfer of Dear Evan Hansen went on sale, it seemed like every single person I follow on Twitter, and everyone in the theatre fan groups on Facebook were buying tickets, and here was me, not the slightest bit interested. I can see why it’s popular, I can see why it’s made an impact, but I’m just not that bothered about seeing it. What is my reason, you may ask, all I can really say is that some parts of the story just don’t sit quite right with me. And I can say the same about Heathers, another show that seems to be a favourite of many; frankly, I just find the story a little bit disturbing. And what about Six? That short little show about the wives of Henry the Eighth that exploded onto the theatre scene and has now gone global? Do I like a few of the songs? Yes. Could I sit through the whole pop concert style show? No.
There are so many of musicals out there that I love, shows that I could easily sit through over and over again without even an ounce of boredom creeping in. Half A Sixpence, Les Miserables, Matilda, Mamma Mia, Come From Away, the list could go on and on but what I am trying to say is that I have my list, and someone else could have a completely different list, and that’s alright.
What I don’t understand is the pressure, the tweets about ‘I’ve got my ticket, have you got yours?’ or the ‘Oh my god, how can you not like it’ comments. Everyone is entitled to an opinion, and everyone is allowed to like different things. I don’t expect everyone to love Half A Sixpence, with it’s older fashioned style and predictable happy ending, or Mamma Mia, with it’s cheesy lines and even cheesier ABBA soundtrack, so why is it somewhat expected for everyone to love Hamilton, or to obsess over Dear Evan Hansen?
There is no need for that pressure to like everything that everyone else likes, no need to follow the crowd, no need to fit in. Let’s be honest, everything would be a lot more boring if we all liked the same things, so stick to being you.
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