“I know something you don’t know.” This is a taunt often heard on an elementary school playground. However, we mentally superior and emotionally mature college students believe we are all far beyond this childish mentality. And while we may not go around punching members of the opposite sex in the arm and running away chanting those age-old words, we do have our more subtle ways of maintaining this playground tease.

Rather than standing on the playground armed with cootie shots, we establish our superiority of knowledge with everything from being able to quote a passage from Virgil’s Aeneid – in the original Latin of course – to being able to name every enzyme in existence.

For those not inclined to academic elitism, I find musical snobbery to be a popular choice. There seems to be a competition on college campuses between students as they fight over whose favorite band is more obscure – the more obscure being the better, of course.

One might argue that this is due to the fact that these almost unknown bands maintain the integrity of the music. To a certain extent this is true. But who hasn’t had some inner flash of superiority when someone admits they’ve never heard of “your” band? Thus it is a bittersweet – though for the fan it’s mostly bitter – feeling when your band starts to really make a name for themselves.

The Shins are a good example – before their inclusion on the “Garden State” soundtrack, they were unknown enough that you could still get that warm, fuzzy feeling from dropping their name in conversation. Now everyone has heard of them, and you feel torn and betrayed. Your superego says you have to feel happy for them – they’re good and deserve this flood of support.

But the music elitist within argues that they’ve let you down. They have officially “sold out.” You worry that now because they’re popular, you won’t be cool if you admit you listen to them. There seems to be a social stigma against listening to “pop” music, and if you like a band that appears on MTV, you have to consider it a guilty pleasure. You worry that the band – no longer “yours” but everyone’s -will change their music to suit the masses.

You find yourself torn. Do you reject these “sell outs” and find a new favorite band who values musical integrity? After all, you need that name-dropping power, or you’ll lose your cool music guru-like image.

The simple answer – like the music you like. If people can openly admit that they enjoy country music, you can still like a band now that more than five people have heard of them.

And while you may no longer feel like an elitist when talking about this band, you may find among the masses a cute somebody with whom you now have something in common. Just try to resist the urge to punch him/her in the arm and run away shouting about cooties.

Phillips can be reached at bphillips@campustimes.org.

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