« Le snobisme consiste à pouvoir se placer toujours dans les endroits où les autres n’ont pas accès. »
- Salvador Dali, Journal d’un génie.
Pardon my French, but I had no choice. Truth be told, one cannot simply introduce the subject of snobbery without using an obscure quote in French – or Latin. I didn’t go too far to find this one, though. I mean, everyone knows Salvador Dali. What? You don’t know Dali? What an unsophisticated little being you are. Quite amusing! Ugh… for realz though, if you don’t know who Dali is, Google image the guy. He has some sick paintings with melting clocks. Pretty cool stuff. Kinda trippy though. (I can’t do the snob or the hip youngster, let me go back to my normal self from now on).
I think snob is a pretty common word. You might have an idea of what it means, but you might not use it that much. We usually relate it to being pretentious or pompous. Just in case, here’s a definition :
1. A person with an exaggerated respect for high social position who dislikes people or activities regarded as lower-class.
2. A person who believes that their tastes in a particular area are superior to those of other people: “a wine snob”.
I am not writing these lines to defend snobs. I am writing them to defend those who are mislabeled as so, just because they have an appreciation of culture that goes beyond mass-media or the mainstream. People who like classical music, jazz, foreign cinema or contemporary art. They’re posers, right?
I remember growing up, liking some filmmakers that aren’t very well known by everyone. For example, I was obsessed by François Truffaut when I was 16. Les 400 coups (The 400 blows) blew my mind at the time when I first saw it and I couldn’t wait to share it with my friends, and so I did. They thought this french “thing” - they didn’t think it deserved to be called a movie – was the most boring film they’ve ever seen. Not only that, they accused me of making up my appreciation of this movie just to make myself seem “distinguished”. What they did not understand, is that the film touched me profoundly, and while I didn’t quite understand the aesthetically value of it back in the day, I was interested by the story, the subject and I felt like the main character was just like me. Obviously, this wasn’t true, because I, for one, wasn’t a rebel, and I never had any problems with my parents. Maybe, there was something more profound, common in all teenagers, that Truffaut managed to make me feel in his telling of Antoine’s Doinel adventures.
What I’m trying to get at is that, it is quite easy to disregard a cultural object – a work of art of any kind – just because we do not appreciate it. This does not make it bad and, in most cases, we do not appreciate what we see simply because we do not understand it. And this lack of understanding comes from the fact that we’re always being exposed to the same stories and the same approaches.
I am glad I stumbled upon this movie while I was still a teenager. It opened me to a world of not only movies, but culture and art that has made my life better. Each work of art is just like an encounter with a new friend. With it comes joy, questions, answers and even more abstract experiences that I cannot quite describe. Re-watching Les 400 coups, almost 10 years later, is just like revisiting an old friend. There was no snobbery in any of our encounters, just pure curiosity.
Life Lesson : French New Wave films can make you a snob to the point where you won’t even realize it anymore. BEWARE.
Actual Advice : Honestly, I would rather be a snob than fall into mediocrity and ignorance. Taking a static, inactive stand while showing a complete lack of curiosity is simply a behavior that I cannot quite grasp. Liking exclusively what we’re constantly exposed to mass-media narrows our appreciation of culture just because we don’t know better.
PROTIP : Go out of your comfort zone, just once. Go somewhere you don’t know, rent some movie with a weird title, listen to some music genre you’ve never heard of before. You might not like what you get at first, try again, until you make that special encounter.