Monday, July 27, 2009

Go ahead and try this at home. Just do it right.

Anybody who interacts with me via Facebook and/or Twitter knows that I often update my status by pointing out things that are comparatively overrated and underrated. Here are some examples:

  • OVERRATED: Sarcasm. UNDERRATED: Flippancy
  • OVERRATED: "That's not a knife; THIS is a knife!" UNDERRATED: "Now I have a machine gun. Ho-Ho-Ho"
  • OVERRATED: Creepy clowns UNDERRATED: Creepy acrobats
  • OVERRATED: Research and development leading to microscopic nanorobots UNDERRATED: Research and development leading to one gigantic robot

I find it's a nice, easy, and, I'd like to believe (although I'm probably wrong), thought-provoking way to call attention to things that might not get enough recognition. Since I started doing it, people I know are doing it also. As far as trendsetting goes, it's not going to earn me any money and it's not all that widespread, but still, it's nice to think that I wield some kind of influence over people. The problem is, not everybody does it correctly.

The other night, a young man I know posted the following: "OVERRATED: Prince UNDERRATED: The Beatles"

Now, OVERRATED/UNDERRATED is certainly a matter of opinion, but this is wrong for a couple of reasons: A) You don't speak ill of Prince. Okay? You just...don't. B) Unless you're talking about beach volleyball, research and development leading to microscopic nanorobots or some other area in which their proficiency and dominance has not been previously established and celebrated, it is impossible to underrate The Beatles. Just can't be done.

Here's what you need to know in order to do it right:

  • Keep in mind that "OVERRATED" doesn't mean bad. Something can be awesome and still be OVERRATED. It all depends on what you're saying is UNDERRATED. Here's a perfect example: OVERRATED: How cool Jack Nicholson is UNDERRATED: How cool Paul Newman is. Everybody always talks about how cool Jack Nicholson is. And no doubt, he is very, very cool. But at the end of the day, wouldn't you much rather be Paul Newman? I know I would. He's much cooler. You never saw Paul Newman play slightly more unhinged versions of his real self in movies or lose it and go after someone with a golf club or be seen mugging it up at every single awards ceremony that comes down the pike. Come to think of it, maybe Jack Nicholson isn't even all that cool to start with. At any rate, this illustrates the point perfectly.
  • Certain elements, like The Beatles, can't be UNDERRATED, simply because they are too damn good or prevalent or both. Others include: oxygen, Ted Williams and Muhammad Ali. The one exception to this would be water. And that's because nobody really appreciates a nice, cold drink of water until they're really, really thirsty, at which point you feel like it's the best thing you've ever had in your life...which is because it is. Water is vastly UNDERRATED when compared to other drinks.
  • Certain other elements can't be UNDERRATED, simply because they aren't very good. Others may not share your appreciation for the "Charlie's Angels" movies but not because they're UNDERRATED. Rather, it's because they suck. The problem is you, not them. Now, we all have our guilty pleasures and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. But it's not a good idea to call attention to yourself by trying to justify them as something better than they are. Gouda cheese might very well be OVERRATED but it doesn't mean Cheetos are UNDERRATED. Usually, it's best just to just enjoy sitting quietly in the corner, sucking the fluorescent orange, vaguely-cheese flavored sodium residue of bad pop culture off your fingers without bringing others into it.
  • It's not advisable to OVERRATE/UNDERRATE really big and important things. If you try to compare gods and countries and Elvis and stuff like that, you're going to piss people off. Also, certain elements are too large and powerful to be brought into any kind of conflict with one another and should be left alone. Let discretion be the better part of valor there.
  • Also, try to stay away from things that aren't all that awesome. Sure, you could do an OVERRATED/UNDERRATED for cole slaw and potato salad. But why bother?

So there you have your guidelines. Go forth and make your own comparisons. OVERRATED: Me, overrating and underrating stuff all the time UNDERRATED: You doing it.

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