I’m not totally afraid to admit my 13 year old self’s interests. Like a certain population of other 13 year old girls, I too made a Tumblr blog and participated in the mind-mass fangirling over Benedict Cumberbatch, but specifically in his “Sherlock” era. I never watched “Supernatural,” but I was familiar enough with the show because a) my also-13-year-old friends and b) again, Tumblr. And, for the real killshot-slash-self-roast of an op, I’m willing to shamelessly admit that I, too, absolutely daydreamed of horrendously Mary Sue self-insert stories in which I, a 13 year old girl, could absolutely join the ranks of badass superheroes or Jedi or “Doctor Who” companions or whatever I was hyper-fixated on as a kid.
Did I cringe a little bit as I wrote that entire introduction paragraph? Yes, I did. I cringed so hard that I considered tossing out this entire article and informing the Opinion Editors that “actually, sorry, I don’t feel like embarrassing myself today,” but that 13 year old girl unfortunately also grew up to be a rather shameless 22 year old. Therefore, I’ll continue.
Because while I absolutely did cringe through that entire opening paragraph, there’s also a rather loud, rather adamant part of me that insists that I’m cringing because I’ve been informed that the things 13 year olds are interested in are inherently “cringe worthy.” I don’t think this is wholly true—I still don’t quite understand why I thought Benedict Cumberbatch was so attractive when I was 13, and I also don’t think there’s anything particularly good about a show that apparently kills its girls and its gays. But then let’s look at other interests that teenage girls had in the last few years—boy bands like One Direction to K-pop groups like BTS, dramatic teen shows like “Gossip Girl” and “Pretty Little Liars,” generically attractive white actors like Dylan O’Brien and David Tennant … and there’s a certain level of eye-rolling that goes along with every single named item on this list. Now, there might be some legitimate reasons for this eye-rolling, but I’m more concerned with how it seems like particularly young girls aren’t allowed to properly like anything, whether it’s objectively embarrassing or not.
Think of the boy bands example, for instance. There’s nothing inherently bad about groups like One Direction or BTS. Even if you don’t personally like their music, that’s not to say that they’re the worst musical groups in the world. Or if we really want to get into it (which we do!), let’s think about big musical groups like the Beatles, which were appealing to both girls and guys alike—but it’s once again that teenage girl population that’s mostly mocked. And yet, we all know that one obnoxious white guy who boasts how he knows how to “properly” enjoy the Beatles which is, to say, not in the same hyper-excited way that the average teenage girl of the 60s might enjoy the Beatles.
But what’s so wrong about a girl being insanely excited over something? What’s so wrong about a girl being intensely happy about that one relatively silly television show or book series or whatever is on her mind? Even if the current objects of obsession might be something to cringe over later, let people have their self-indulgent fun.
Now, this isn’t to say that every single object of self-indulgent fun is inherently good either. I still think that certain teen shows are pretty terrible, if only because the writing sucks and the actors are tired (looking at you, “Riverdale”). But hey, not every single TV show needs to be the next Emmy-award winning series with the weird sepia or blue-gray palette. Sometimes people can enjoy objectively trash television, and that should be (a little) okay too. In short, I don’t think everything needs to be expertly beautiful or five star worthy for people to enjoy things. Recognizing that something’s not quite as good as your teenager self thought is all fine and good, but the things you enjoyed as a teenager aren’t inherently stupid. It’s chill to just enjoy things for the sake of enjoying them.