I hate The Beatles: The problem with smart arses and 'cool guys'/'cool girls' in the media

You don't like Help! or Eleanor Rigby? I feel like your soul is broken (Ob La Di Ob La Da is crap though)

I like The Beatles. That should be uncontroversial. Along with The Rolling Stones, who fucked more than thinking about fucking like the Beatles did (even though they were filthy little piggies in their own right), The Beatles were unquestionably the most important band of the 1960s. Subsequently, their influence has been unparalleled. And yet, you’ll regularly meet I HATE THE BEATLES people. These performative arseholes can’t just quietly be wrong. They have to make a big point of it. 

For a future issue of this newsletter, I’ve spoken to the former editor of NME, Conor McNicholas, and one of the things we talked about was music journalists who are super-fans versus those who want to impress fellow hacks. I was the first sort and quite actively disliked by the second sort. As a teenager, I bought lots of music mags with my dinner money and would dissect them assiduously. It turns out that Conor did something quite similar. I was a fan of bands, but also of music writers. 

I could use up an entire newsletter listing them: Sylvia Patterson, David Quantick, Johnny Cigarettes, Tom Doyle, Eve Barlow… there are tonnes. 

Fandom was the topic of the other newsletter edition today, written with expertise and fire by Penny CS Andrews. They make the point that columnists have fans like any other public figure and while they pretend to not like that or harness it, they do. 

For a brief period when I was a regular writer for the now-dead Telegraph Blogs opinion section, I also had a certain cohort of fans as well as a hard rump of haters. That audience has travelled with me since, rocking up at The Next Web when I worked there, hanging around on my Twitter sometimes, and certainly among the signups to this newsletter. 

If you write with personality, you will get fans. You will also get people who despise you, even though they only know you via a postage-stamp-sized avatar or byline picture (which is usually pretty old and tends to look nothing like the columnist really does now). Dealing with people who like and hate you is part of the job of a writer now. That’s life in the NFL. 

But still, there are I HATE THE BEATLES people in every part of the media. By that, I mean contrarian types who stamp their feet to highlight how different they are to everyone else. Look at how The Times’ stable of columnists stokes culture war battles, especially around trans issues, or how NYT Opinion writers have engaged in generational conflict within their own organisation. 

If you’re a big head writer, simply saying I LOVE THE BEATLES is sometimes just not enough. But I do. I love The Beatles. I love writing. And I really love it when I write something that makes the right people hate me. Fuck ‘em.

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