I grew up with an undercover hipster Dad.
Technically, all hipsters are undercover. I know that; I've studied them for quite some time.
A hipster would never be caught dead calling himself a "hipster."
Just stick with me, here.
My Dad always likes to go against the flow. When he was a kid, he chose his favorite football team by answering two questions: 1) Who does EVERYONE I know cheer for? 2) Who is that team's biggest rival?
Then he said, "That's my team." He literally never looked back. My dad is a die hard Steelers fan, so much so that he once high-jacked my car and put a Steelers license plate on the front. He had a genuine look of betrayal when I told him Texas requires you to have plates on the back AND the front. HOW COULD YOU JUST THROW AWAY THE STEELER PLATE?
He always challenged the status quo in everything, for better or worse. If there was one pet peeve at the top of Dad's list, it would be Bandwagon Jumpers, or Fair-Weather Fans.
People who like Harry Potter are Bandwagon Jumpers. (Dear, sweet English teachers/book lovers who read my blog: Don't riot. This is an illustration.)
People who cheer for Superbowl-winning teams AFTER they win the Superbowl are Bandwagon Jumpers.
People who like sushi are Bandwagon Jumpers.
People who have Kindles are Bandwagon Jumpers.
People who drink cold brew coffee are Bandwagon Jumpers.
People who wear Beats Headphones are Bandwagon Jumpers.
People who do the Kevin Durant "shimmy-shake" when they shoot free throws are Bandwagon Jumpers.
I could go on for longer than I'd are to admit. The point is, because of this small piece of my upbringing, I've spent most of my life fighting against the status quo, as well. For some reason, I wanted people to know I was a True Fan with Sophisticated Taste.
I took this on especially with musicals and books. Someone who majored in both of these things in college would never just craft their own tastes based on what everyone else liked, right? Well, as a result, I missed out on a whole lot of trends for fear of being viewed as "mainstream" or less than a connoisseur or expert in everything.
In my old age, I've mellowed quite a bit.
Particularly, I've let down my Bandwagon Jumper walls because I KNOW my students fall into this category, more often than not. Ignoring what is popular would be a gross oversight in possible engagement in the classroom. I need to know the buzz worthy books AND musicals (especially when they are actually HIP-HOP, hallelujah). I need to know the moves the athletes make and the games they play on the sidelines (bottle-flipping, anyone?).
So as a recovering Bandwagon Avoider, here are a few of the parties I've arrived to as of late. Like, really late. (Disclaimer: This is 100% a metaphor. I am most certainly ON TIME to real-life parties. Otherwise, it's rude.)
The Girl on the Train: Okay, this book is gold in terms of page-turner status, but JET BLACK in terms of subject matter. (Spoiler Alert: There are spoilers ahead. Did I do that right?) Abuse? Cheating? A man who treats women like doormats whom he can manipulate and STOMP ALL OVER? No, thank you. However, give me an unreliable narrator or two who keeps me from guessing the end until THE VERY END, and I'll get to the end as quickly as possible. While this story line was slightly nauseating, I know my students would be intrigued. This would make a good RGD (Reading Gateway Drug).
Hamilton: HAMILTON! HAMILTON! HAMILTON!!! Ohhhhhhh, how I love youuuuuuu. Oh, Hamilton, I love youuuuuuu. I can't even rationally evaluate this right now. Just go listen, NOW. It's a great, "Yeah right, world, you can't keep me down!" soundtrack. I love those. The quality of musicians makes me want to go crawl into a hole because I'll never be that talented. The subject matter is relatable to any and all people, especially students who need to "write their way out." (More on that later. That line needs it's own series.)
All the Light We Cannot See: Go read it. Try not to cry. It's worth the hype.
I've come to the conclusion that things are usually popular for a reason. What those reasons are, I have yet to hypothesize, but that might make for a fun rhetorical analysis project. Why are bestsellers, bestsellers? What makes something go viral? What if it was released at a different point in time, etc.?
Also, I've officially become a Jeff Zentner fan. I finished his book, The Serpent King, this morning. I feel like the characters are still sitting next to me, still lingering in my mind. I wonder what their futures look like. Jump on my Bandwagon, why don't ya?
P.S. Have you been a reluctant Bandwagon Jumper? What Bandwagon are you on, right now?