Let’s Be Better A/V Enthusiasts This Year

It’s that time of year to make resolutions. How about for this year, we aim to be better A/V enthusiasts and put some of last year’s exclusionary nastiness behind us.

Here’s what I mean.

Being a snob doesn’t make you superior

“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” - Hemingway (allegedly)

For example, shut up about never seeing Star Wars. People who proudly proclaim they’ve never seen Star Wars are the worst. Look, it’s a movie, you’ve either seen it or you have’t. Who cares. But the people who are so proud that they haven’t, as if that makes them superior… guess what, it doesn’t.

At this point being proud you haven’t seen Star Wars is like being proud you’ve never heard Beethoven’s 9th or seen Romeo and Juliet. These are pieces of our collective culture for a reason: they’re superb examples of their collective medium. If you don’t like space fantasy, fine. But your choice not to partake doesn’t make you superior.


The opposite is just as true. If someone hasn’t seen Star Wars, it’s not the end of the world. I’m sure those people have seen movies you haven’t.

This extends to everything. Someone is always going to be a bigger fan than you, know more than you, be better at something. Being snobby about your own level is laughable and sad. No one was born with the knowledge they have. We should be enthusiastic if someone wants to be part of our club. To do otherwise is just being a condescending bully.

This is especially true when it’s about someone younger than you...

The Kids Are Alright

Enough with the “These damn kiiiiiiiiiids!!!” Nothing is stupider than complaining about people younger than you. Guess what! Your parents did it, their parents did it, and their parents parents did it. It was stupid then, it’s stupid now. Just as rock and roll didn’t destroy society, the current generation of young adults are some of the most accepting, and best educated ever. Don’t believe me? Read this.

“These damn kids with their Bieber and their GaGas. In my day we had Zepplin. Now it’s just crap.”

Yeah… no you didn’t. This is called “false equivalence.” It would be like me saying “Ugh, all you old peoples’ cars sucked. Back in the 70s all you had was Pintos and Gremlins. Nowadays we have Paganis and Teslas.” See what I did there? The correct analogy would be to compare Bieber to Captain and Tennille or Starland Vocal Band. Yeah, people in glass houses and all that.

There has always been pop music, and if you don’t like it, that’s fine, but it is what it is and time tends to be kinder to it than most people would like to admit. Well, some of it.

Which brings us to…

If you think there’s “no good music” or “no good movies” anymore… that’s on you

There are more ways to discover new music than any time in history. It’s easier than it ever has been to record and share music with the world than any time in history. If you think there’s “no good music” because you don’t hear any on the radio… guess what? The radio is crap and has been for decades (always?).

What’s marketed to the masses will never be as daring and exciting as what’s on the fringe, but it’s always been that way.

I can think of three artists I discovered just in the last month that I love, adding to a list of dozens I discovered this year. Some new (CHVRCHES!), and some not exactly new (holy crap, Tom Russell!). It’s out there, it’s up to you to find it.

Or as a friend of mine said “I’m the best DJ I know.” That’s not a boast, we are all the best DJs we know.

Let’s Stop Being Exclusionary

What do all the above have in common? The politics of exclusion. There has always been an air of elitism with home theater, especially high-end audio. Today this manifests itself most obviously in the virulent commentary that runs under any headphone review. This pushback happens any time a hobby loved by few is embraced by the many. That somehow “new” fans aren’t “real” fans.

I can understand this, all too well. As a longtime gamer, I resented the influx of console gamers claiming to be a “gamer” like I was. I was appalled that someone who didn’t know a GPU from RAM could ever claim to be a “true” gamer, not like I was. And their dumbed down games WITH CONTROLLERS. The horror.

What a load of crap. What a load of crap that someone who listens with earbuds with streaming music is somehow “less” of a music fan than someone with tower speakers and an integrated amp. What a load of crap that someone who watches movies on a tablet is somehow less of a movie than fan than someone with a projector and 10-foot screen.

Want to know why? You have no idea what that person is thinking. Maybe that “millennial” doesn’t have a 65-inch TV because he still has to live with his parents because the job market for new grads sucks (it does). Or maybe because they spend their money on other things, like travel, or a great smartphone that lets them watch TV, movies, and listen to all the music they want. Or maybe they have a Gear VR and their virtual screen is bigger than your real one.

Who cares? If someone wants to be a fan, let’s bring them into the big tent. A/V can be great. All of this stuff is great. Because if we don’t, the A/V industry will have a Cadillac problem, worse than they already do. And that road leads to no more toys for any of us.

Tangential's picture

That we will have a year without countless articles having a go at the so-called 'Millennials' and that we'll get articles on a/v instead?

Geoffrey Morrison's picture
That'd be the dream.
big45's picture

I'm 45 and I agree. The kids these days have their thing just like we had ours and all they want is to be left alone. that doesn't mean we don't impart practical advice and correct bad behavior or that we have to like everything they do. But let's cool our old school jets and it's their turn so we should let em have their time.

JustinGN's picture

Here's to a 2016 Sound and Vision that hopefully doesn't blame my entire generation for the current growing pains or problems of the A/V, CE and CI industries. We're all here (on this site) to read A/V news and reviews, right? So let's adapt to the current market scene, and start catering to the current audience: a healthy mix of older adults who are fully invested into the hobby as well as new/younger adults looking for the best bang for their buck in order to enjoy the hobby as well.

Geoffrey Morrison's picture