Earlier this week I went with my friend George Loveland and his lovely friends, to see 5 6 7 8, which is a Steps musical. Think Mamma Mia, flimsy plot stringing together a series of performances of Steps songs, rather than ABBA songs.
Judge me all you like but honestly I don’t care. I’ll be over here, singing along to all the songs, laughing at the cheesiness of the plot and revelling in the joy of the whole thing from start to finish.
Whether you believe in an afterlife or not, I think it’s clear that life is short. Having lost a father at 50, an uncle and an aunt in their thirties, I’m very aware of this. The main purpose of life, seems to me, to be about experiencing as many moments of joy as possible. As long as your joy doesn’t harm others.
Joy is very specific to the person experiencing it. The joy can be from having a child, buying a new car, helping someone, baking a cake, going to a concert, spending time with friends and family. Whatever your own particular brand of joy is. This is very subjective.
I’m also a bit sick and tired of people judging others for their taste in music / books / films / TV. There’s a particularly pernicious form of looking down the nose that some people do when I mention the things I enjoy and also the books I write.
Just because someone has deemed this book, that film, that piece of music to be better than others, I have a few issues. Firstly, I don’t agree because the ways they’ll have judged that will be inherently flawed and skewed towards an academic rather than emotional analysis; secondly, who are they to make that judgement, rather than someone else, when all of this is so very subjective; and thirdly most of these judgements are based on an arbitrary divide between what is ‘good’ or ‘artistic’ in culture and what is ‘bad’ or ‘popular/genre’ in culture.
Well, pah to the divide! Pah to the high up judges! Pah to it all!
My judgement of whether something is good or not is ‘did it enable me to experience joy while consuming it?’ If I did, then it’s good, if I didn’t then it wasn’t for me and I’ll swipe left and move on.
Because something is popular it is, by some, automatically deemed to be less than, a bit obvious, a bit too easy. Well, given the choice of a piece of literature that’s beautifully written but incomprehensibly and engenders no emotion in me and a romance that makes me cry or smile, I know which I’d choose.
After a hard week will I choose an exploration of a family after someone dies, filmed on a wind swept Scottish landscape with long brooding shots of the actors, scenes of animals being burned on bonfires? Or will I choose a rom com with Cameron Diaz or Katherine Heigl that makes me laugh and cry?
You know the answer. And, I’ll hazard a guess, some of the people who claim to want to watch the former, will actually end up watching the latter when they have a glass of wine in their hand come Friday night.
A few years ago I saw a West End production of a play by a very highly regarded play write, full of very well-known actors. All the critics had given it rave reviews. I waited in anticipation with Mum to enjoy this wonderful production.
We fell asleep and walked out in the interval. Nothing happened.
However, Cinderella – with Paul O’Grady and Julian Clarey – was a bolt of joy from start to finish. Mamma Mia (which I’ve seen 3 times) and Kinky Boots were, yep, you guessed it, full unbridled joy from start to end.
If you do enjoy the less popular, more artistic, deeper films / books / music and if they bring you joy too, I’m so pleased for you. Live and let live I say. But please don’t judge others for getting their joy through other things.
Love and light,
Liam Livings xx
If you want to experience some joy at a romance, a happy ever after and maybe even cry with the emotion of it all (the editor told me she cried while editing the last scene) then you could give Heat Wave Astoria a go.
Available on Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com