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Own Your Joy

Tell me a movie, book, TV series, or whatever that you think is perfect and I’ll tell you how it isn’t perfect.

When I post online that I liked a certain movie, TV series (or episode of a TV series), a book, etc etc etc, I frequently get at least one response along the lines of “It wasn’t perfect, but it was fun” or “I didn’t love it, but I liked it.” And honestly, I don’t know what to do with statements like that. When I say I like something, even when I say I love something, that doesn’t imply I think it’s perfect. If you say you like or love something, I don’t assume you think it’s the Platonic ideal and love everything single thing about it. You’re allowed to enjoy something without having to qualify it. You’re allowed to like something without having to also disparage it in some way. Own your enjoyment.

I recently saw Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and Aquaman. I liked them both. A lot. Would I say they’re perfect? 100%? A+? Nope. Did both have some things I didn’t think were great? Sure. But overall, I thought the movies were really good, a lot of fun to watch, and whatever problems they had didn’t override that enjoyment. I save my complaints for the things I thought were only okay or didn’t care for at all.

(When I say they were a lot of fun to watch, I mean that as a very, very good thing. I don’t understand using “it was just fun” as if it were a side effect, not the main reason for watching or reading something. I’ve quit movies, TV series, books, and comics, even when I thought they were well done and had important things to say, because they weren’t fun to watch or read. If I want to do something that’s important but not fun, I’ll pay my bills and do my taxes.)

Casablanca is one of my all-time favorite movies. I own it on DVD, but I’ll still watch it whenever I come across it on television. It has plot holes you could drive a truck through. There is some wooden acting in it (I’m looking at you, Paul Henreid). None of that overrides my love of the film and when I say I love it, why should I qualify that love by mentioning the plot holes or acting?

Doctor Who is my favoritest TV series ever. I might even go so far as to say it’s perfect. There are stories in the series that I don’t like. There are stories I think are pretty meh. Even the stories I love often have plot holes, flat characters, actors that gnaw on the scenery like starving rabbits, and endings that wrap up far too quickly (or, especially in the classic series, a lot of padding in the middle of stories). Hell, there are whole seasons of the show that I’m not fond of. The series overall can be very dated when it comes to things like gender, race, and sexuality. None of those things diminish my love for it. Now, when I’m raving about the show to someone who’s never seen it and they express an interest in watching it, I will give them the disclaimer that the series, especially the classic seasons, can be pretty sexist and racist at times. Otherwise, yes, I know the show isn’t perfect, but I don’t need to mention that when expressing my love of it.

Because there is no such thing as a perfect movie, book, TV show, comic book, play, etc etc etc. When you say you like something, perfection isn’t implied. What’s implied is “This thing is flawed, and maybe the flaws bother me and maybe they don’t, but overall I liked it.” Look, if you were telling someone “Josh is my friend”, would you qualify that with “I mean, he’s never on time and he often forgets things I tell him, five minutes after I tell him, but he’s fun to hang out with”? Isn’t the fact that I’m a flawed human being understood when you tell someone you like me? Why is it any different when you’re talking about media you like?

Imperfection is a given. Everything is flawed. That’s not a bug, that’s a fact of life, and you can even see that as part of the beauty of things. Don’t make the small stuff more important than it needs to be. Grab onto the things that make you happy and love them without reservation. Express that love without qualifying it. Stick around for joy.

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