Musings on Dissatisfaction

I was thinking recently about a couple of very popular novels that I find unreadable, mostly for the quality of the writing itself. One, Eragon, was written by a teen, and teens responded very well to it, and a lot of them who had picked up some reading momentum from the Harry Potter books found a new series to love. I was fully on board with the enthusiasm because I believe reading just about anything is good for language development, not to mention just good for our brains and hearts in general.

The other is 50 Shades of Grey, which was originally written as Twilight fan fiction. When the author got really good feedback from her audience (that is, people who read fanfic), she restructured her story with original characters so she could sell it independently, and now she’s filthy stinking rich. I know a lot of middle-aged women who haven’t picked up a popular book in many years, who read the whole 50 Shades series and dug it. Most will admit the writing is not good, and that the content is pretty fluffy, but they found it a guilty pleasure.

I’m on board with guilty pleasures as well.

But while I can enjoy mediocre writing, truly bad writing is really difficult to endure. I get distracted by thoughts about the editor (who edited this? what was he or she thinking?), the writer, the audience, and all kinds of stuff like that. There’s a level of bad quality past which I feel insulted as a reader. If nobody cared enough about the quality of the writing to do such simple things as run a spell-check, why should I care enough to spend three hours reading it?

This is a long introduction to my larger musings, which have centered lately around being satisfied with my consumption. While I believe I look at music, books, and other media pretty critically, in general I enjoy the stuff I let through, even if it’s just good enough. Penny has an even broader satisfaction threshold, and if I might presume, I’d say it extends to the rest of her life, too. Because Penny’s pretty satisfied with most things she encounters, she’s generally a happier, more pleasant person to be around. It helps too that she’s not as moody as I am.

I’m thinking this is a direction I want to move into, one where I can still look at things critically, but not be disapointed or dissatisfied because of their flaws. It’s possible I’ll never get to the point where I can read 50 Shades of Grey, but what if that’s where the line is? It must be possible to continually seek excellence without being disappointed by its absence.

What do you guys think? How satisfied and dissatisfied are you with the stuff you consume? Websites, TV, music, movies, food? Do these things generally make you happier or less happy, and does it matter?

3 thoughts on “Musings on Dissatisfaction

  1. What do you guys think? How satisfied and dissatisfied are you with the stuff you consume? Websites, TV, music, movies, food?

    I think I might have a different answer for each item on the list

    websites (I’m not sure)

    TV: I don’t watch TV on a regular basis, but I’m pretty satisfied with the TV shows I do watch

    Music: Maybe a little more satisfied than I have been in the past, and I attribute this to greater access to music, particularly music that was hard to come by in the past.

    Movies: Satisfaction has declined dramatically. It’s just harder to find movies that satisfy me, particularly mainstream films. And that sucks.

    Food: I think food has been less enjoyable, but I’m OK with that.

    Does any of this matter? Out of all the categories, my declining interest and satisfaction in movies has been a little disappointing. It’s kind of a bummer because I’ve gotten a lot of enjoyment out of movies, starting from a very young age. To not really feel that, except on rare occasions, is disappointing. So I guess it matters, at least a little.

    I’m thinking this is a direction I want to move into, one where I can still look at things critically, but not be disapointed or dissatisfied because of their flaws.

    For what it’s worth, I’d love to do this, too, but I tend to think I have little choice in the matter. Off the top of my head, I’d say that the degree to which I’m critical isn’t something that I can turn off or on; and actually to be more precise, I’m not sure critical analysis is the main problem. Let’s assume we’ve become wiser, more perceptive and more knowledgeable over time. If we experience something that seems hollow or false because of greater knowledge and experience, is that really something we can control? I mean, I generally go into a movie with the mindset and determination to actively dissect and analyze it…Well, there are times when I do that, but it’s very different watching a movie without that intention. (And I really haven’t watched a movie like that in a long time.)

  2. Mitchell,

    I never got the sense that you were dissatisfied with TV, food, and movies. Books I can see, and I really have no idea about music. What about sports? Reid seems to be completely disenchanted with most sports.

    I don’t read and I’m not into the internet with the exception of maybe researching things like going on trips and such. I don’t really listen to enough music to know much. In terms of movies, although I rarely watch any, I would say 80 – 90 percent of them entertain me or at least keeps me invested. I watched part of the Power Rangers movie a week ago and it was fun enough. I didn’t stay with it, because my son wanted to change it, but I probably could have. That movie cannot be entertaining to most, I would think. TV consists mainly of a lot of NHK World shows, which I DVR. I also like The Voice (but mainly the auditions part) and 60 Minutes. I normally pick a new show to DVR every season and this year it’s “The Brave”. It’s okay, but it may peter out in an another season or so. In terms of food, I still like to try new places, so it still exciting. I enjoy podcasts (mainly for its convenience) and sports quite a lot.

  3. What about sports? Reid seems to be completely disenchanted with most sports.

    Sad but true. I hope this changes for the NFL, though. (I’ve kinda given up on basketball.)

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