I recently accompanied my wife to the Oct. 11 Josh Groban concert at EnergySolutions Arena. I attended the show of my own choice. I even bought the tickets and surprised her with them on her birthday. I have no one to blame but myself.
This may seem like a bizarre way to describe a concert I enjoyed thoroughly. Groban is a remarkable musician and singer, but I was pleasantly surprised by what a great entertainer he is, too. He had an easy rapport with the audience that even included a clever question-and-answer segment. "If you had to be eaten by an animal," one fan asked, "which animal would it be, and how?" (Not why, mind you, but how.) Groban wisely decided he would rather be swallowed whole by a whale than be chewed up by something with sharp teeth.
So he was funny, he sang beautifully, and a good time was had by all. I have no regrets. Given the chance, I would do it all again in a heartbeat.
Yet I received word the next day that I need to "forfeit my man card" for being a Josh Groban fan.
I should have known. Groban himself made reference to this in the concert, pointing out that every man who attended had been forcibly dragged there by his significant other. I looked around while I was there, and all the other dudes seemed to be having just as good a time as I was. Granted, they may have been hostages trying to put on a brave face, but I didn't get a chance to speak with any of them in a secure location apart from their alleged captors, so I can't be sure.
I've seen this all my life. In my Little League days, I was told my cultural tastes were "girly." I was instead supposed to appreciate manly things like football and explosions and monster truck rallies. But none of those things ever floated my boat — except, of course, explosions. I mean, come on. Who doesn't like explosions?
Well, women don't, if the clichés hold true. Ladies are supposed to like string quartets and ballet and, yes, Josh Groban. They're supposed to be reading "Pride and Prejudice" while their husbands watch Monday Night Football. Except I'd be far more interested in spending a few hours with Mr. Darcy and Co. than I would watching a professional football game all the way through — unless, of course, it's the Super Bowl and I can watch the ads, because some of those ads have explosions in them.
My point is that linking gender to artistic preferences is a very silly thing to do. Furthermore, a significant chunk of people avoid "chick flicks "or "guy stuff" simply because they're not comfortable challenging the preconceptions that are unfortunate leftovers from their childhoods.
When I got grief for my Groban fanhood, I asked, "Have you ever actually heard any of his music?" I got a vacant stare in response. It was somewhat akin to a young child yelling, "I hate meatloaf!" while never actually having tried meatloaf or even knowing what meatloaf actually is. (To be fair, though, very few people know what meatloaf actually is. So there's that.)
Fact is, I can't imagine anybody attending that concert and not having fun, regardless of how much testosterone was in their system at the time. How many grown-ups deprive themselves of great cultural experiences because they still believe the playground taunts from decades earlier?
Fact is, adults shouldn't choose their entertainment based on tired stereotypes. Instead, they should count the number of explosions and take it from there.
Jim Bennett is a recovering actor, theater producer and politico, and he writes about pop culture and politics at his blog, stallioncornell.com.