One of the most common and irritating internet debating tactics–right up there with comparing someone to Hitler–is when someone responds to an attack on a favorite movie or musician by presuming the worst about the attacker's taste. Current case-in-point: in the comment thread on our recent Ryan Adams interview, one well-meaning Adams fan takes on an Adams detractor by writing, "People bitching about RA probably own the whole Nickelback catalog." Something similar happened in a recent White Stripes thread, where someone responded to a jab at Meg White's limited drumming skills by telling the jabber to "go listen to Rush."

On the flip side, in another White Stripes thread, one White Stripes hater told me to "shave off that faux-hawk and go buy a Kate Bush album," apparently unaware that: (a.)I'm a middle-aged dork with a receding hairline, and (b.) I actually reviewed the most recent Kate Bush album in The A.V. Club…and favorably, I might add. And in the latest "Ask The A.V. Club" comment thread, my passing defense of Steven Spielberg met with a curt command that I should "watch 3 Robert Aldrich DVDs." (I wonder if it's okay if I watch the two I already own…one of which, again, I reviewed for The A.V. Club? And I wonder if it's okay that I've seen about a half-dozen other Aldrich films, but not on DVD?)

Even stranger to me is the fannish nitpicking over musicians that aren't that different–like the pissy sniping between Jay Farrar fans and Jeff Tweedy fans. Is it inconceivable that one could like both? For that matter, is it inconceivable that one could like The White Stripes and Rush? (I'm afraid I can't go to bat for Nickelback, though I'm willing to bet that more than one person in the world has a Nickelback CD and a Ryan Adams CD in their collection.)

I'm not sure which part of this method of arguing bothers me more: the automatic assumption that if one doesn't like one particular great thing, they must like only awful things, or the insistence that people's taste should be necessarily narrow. I understand the impulse to rank things, and I understand some people's need to define themselves as much by what they dislike as what they like. But when people get didactic about it, it's hard to take them seriously. Do they have no CDs in their collection that they find hard to explain to their friends? No dopey movies or TV shows that they like? No junk food they crave?

I'm not even talking "guilty pleasures" here, per se. Depending upon the crowd you run with, you can get slagged for liking art-films as much as for liking blockbusters. But aren't most people reasonable enough–that is, if they're not trying to score points in an on-line argument–to admit that sometimes they're into each?

One of the things I like about this job is that–within reason–I've got a license to write about what interests me in popular culture, from super-hero comics to experimental cinema to reality TV to musical theater to old comedians to NFL Films to modernist design to regional snack cakes to stuff I haven't even begun to tackle yet. (Filmography of Bruce Brown? Hold tight, old friend, I'll get to you someday.) And I'm not the only one. Nathan, our resident hip-hop expert, has a love of classic Hollywood cinema that rivals my own. Scott, our world cinema guy, is way into poker and basketball. Tasha's a sci-fi/fantasy fanatic and an excellent baker.

Our fearless leader Keith always likes to remind us that even if a particular article on the site only draws a couple hundred readers, those readers might be unique visitors, only here to read about, say, the films of Kenneth Anger, or the music of Prefab Sprout. With that in mind, I feel like I can follow the trails of my varied interests wherever they lead, even if it means writing about American Idol for an often-hostile readership, or reviewing non-canonical verité documentaries from the early '70s. Someday I may find the connection between the two. Or maybe I won't. But along the way, if a commenter tries to insult me by saying something like, "I bet you like Journey too," all I can do is shrug and say, "Yeah, and…?"