True Detective Season 2 just finished. I loved it. Nobody else seemed to, to the point where it took until mid afternoon on the Tuesday after the last episode before I found a positive review, a review that felt the same as I did. Everyone else just got negative and complained.
Here’s the thing though: it’s very difficult to be extremely good and extremely popular at the same time. If you want something genuinely good, something completely out there, you have to accept that not many people are going to like it. On the other hand, it is entirely possible to put together TV programming that is not at all good, but that lots of people will watch. I’m particularly thinking of X-Factors of the world, but there are hundreds of examples. My sense is that True Detective Season Two just went for it (it being oblivion). It was astonishing TV, prepared to throw out existing conventions in the name of its art, in the name of random, brutal and unfair destruction. And yes, maybe the Vince Vaughan and wife discussion scenes went on a bit, but didn’t Herman Melville dwell that bit too long on the art of whaling sometimes, too? Do the Grateful Dead need to take Dark Star up to 30 minutes? Exactly.
So yeah, it works in music as well. Compare Nirvana’s In Utero and Nevermind albums. The former is, I think, considerably better; the latter, I think, has sold many more copies. Cobain’s trick was to make alternative music very accessible. This at once cheapened his art and opened it up to more people (me included, of course) who wouldn’t have listened to Mudhoney or Tad or whoever. Again: there is a relationship between the number of people who like things and what these things are or do.
This of course applies to football. Take two midfielders. Let’s call one Jimmy, and the other Dickson. Jimmy does lots of things on a pitch. He’s everywhere. He passes here, he passes there, he’s the man! Dickson… not so much. What does he even do?! Except… they have an amazing manager, and he chooses Dickson and sells Jimmy. Oh! Well. What’s that all about then? Bullard is Nevermind, Etuhu is In Utero. One is obvious, but ultimately overrated; the other is hard to appreciate, but ultimately a better option.
And so we find ourselves with Jamie O’Hara getting three man of the match awards in three games. Now, I like Jamie O’Hara. If ever a team needed a veteran midfielder to take the pressure off team-mates, to be the focal point, to run the team, it’s this Fulham team. In this sense O’Hara’s a godsend. And he’s played quite well. But three straight man of the match awards?! Wow.
To have written this much implies that I care much more than I really do. But still – show some imagination, people, eh? I know that praising anyone in defence is a no-no, and that McCormack and Pringle haven’t woken up yet this season, but there’s still Matt Smith! Will nobody think of Matt Smith?! Matt Smith retrieved O’Hara’s Putney End bound hollywood ball for our goal. He headed one chance over and another against the post – could easily have been two goals there. If Fulham were going to score there was a good chance it would be Smith’s doing. He was the most consistent threat for sure. And if you’re stuck for answers, what about the man who walloped in our equalising goal? More or less out of nothing? Cairney. Him. He could have the award. He’s playing well. Bettinelli did okay, too. In a devious move presumably directly aimed at Lonergan’s self-esteem, he actually passed to his teammates when he got the ball. And he made some good saves.
I’m not saying O’Hara wasn’t deserving, but it feels like there’s an element of moths crashing into lightbulbs here.