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The Apologist

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apologist |əˈpäləjist|

noun

a person who offers an argument in defense of something controversial

I don’t think of myself as a contrarian, but I guess you’d have to ask someone who knows me whether or not this is true.  I don’t have a knee-jerk hatred for a piece of pop culture when it achieves mass acceptance.  Hey, I liked (and continue to like) Titanic, even after it made a zillion dollars and James Cameron revealed his gigantic, throbbing, veiny ego to the world.  I am a guy who really does like the popular stuff on TV, at the movies and in music.

But here are a few areas in which I seem to wave the lone flag of enthusiasm, at least in terms of the people with whom I associate.  And no, I don’t apologize for it.

1. Singers With Abrasive Nasal-y Voices Who Write Super Obtuse Yet Also Extraordinarily Confessional Lyrics:

I am thinking mainly of Conor “Bright Eyes” Oberst here.  I am extraordinarily forgiving of his brand of singer/songwriter, and I am not sure why.  On paper, a lyric like

I felt your poltergeist love like savannah heat
While the waterfall was pouring
Crazy symbols of my destiny

from his song “Cape Canaveral”  should at the very least embarrass me, as it should him.  And yet… I buy in 100%.  You can lump The Mountain Goats and Joanna Newsom in here, too.

2. REM Albums After Bill Berry Left:

It is a fairly common sentiment that REM began to suck after drummer Bill Berry left the band following their album New Adventures in Hi Fi.  I wouldn’t say that they are better now (by any stretch of the imagination), but I also think that you dismiss some of their later stuff at your own risk.  In fact, the album I return to the most is their first after the great Berry exodus, Up.  Yep, I think Up is a better record than the following “Classic” REM records:  Fables of the Reconstruction, Out of Time, Monster, and New Adventures in Hi Fi– all from the Bill Berry era.

3. Reviled Sequels:

I am mainly thinking of three- Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Robocop 2, and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.  The element that ruins it for most people are (respectively): Annoying Female Lead and Annoying Kid, Annoying Kid, and Annoying Kids.  To that I would answer (respectively):  Best sustained action sequence of the entire series,  a darker take on the material, and, well, the Thunderdome concept and final chase carry the movie over the Ewok factor.  No, I don’t think any of these movies are better than their predecessors, but each of them are better than all the movies that came after.  Yes, even Last Crusade.

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