On the other hand there's a lot of ways in which we're also primed to look for novelty, with a caveat that it depends on our personalities. Why do we become tired of [certain] foods and want something different? I think the theory is there's this internal regulatory thermostat there that forces us, after a while, to become tired of the same thing and look for something new because it is good to have a wide source of different nutritional sources. So it’s not quite the same thing going on with our interest in art, but you can almost imagine a metaphorical similarity there.
Beck: Can we just do a quick lightning round of what's up with certain weird kinds of liking things?
Vanderbilt: Sure, yeah.
Beck: Okay. Number one: What’s up with hate-watching?
Vanderbilt: In the good old days of aesthetic philosophy, you liked the things that were good and beautiful and brought pleasure. I think in today's more complicated consumption world, this is a thing. What are you hating? Are you hating yourself for watching or are you hating certain aspects of the production even as you enjoy other things? I'd like to see from a neurological point of view just what the pathways and processes involved there are. It’s been shown that when looking at things that one dislikes, a lot of the same brain areas are activated that are involved with liking and love even. This might be a nice analogy to our liking. It can be like a storm system sort of hovering right on the edge that really might go one way or the other, but at the moment it's quite muddled. All we know there's sort of a powerful feeling and there's a lot of crackling.
I don't think if you really truly hated something that you would subject yourself to it. I think there has to be a pleasure there, but it’s just perhaps…
Beck: Like righteous anger or something?
Vanderbilt: Yeah. You can even perhaps have a kind of a pleasure that emerges from your own sense of moral superiority.
Beck: So what's up with liking things ironically?
Vanderbilt: I think there's much more artifice there. Versus something like camp which does really involve genuine emotion.
Beck: Well that was going to be my last lightning round, if you want to compare—what's up with things that are so bad they're good?
Vanderbilt: I'm not actually sure I can delineate that. How would you think about liking something ironically?
Beck: I think it's silly to try to protect yourself from saying you like something that's not cool by saying it's just ironic.
Vanderbilt: I'm a Gen X-er so, you know? Irony was one of our hallmarks, and I guess there's an argument that it emerged in response to some kind of strong sense that we were we were being marketed to, and we needed to come up with a protective stance or something. Whereas perhaps when liking something that's so bad it's good, you’re opening up more, putting yourself on the line, allowing the possibility that you may be compromising what you think your own tastes are by being open to this potential experience. Once you open yourself to the idea that that something is so bad it’s good, perhaps it actually is just good.