Yet somehow I can’t hate on Juno as much as my comedy-writing peers. I largely ascribe that to something I call the Collective Anger Quota. It works like this: every offending cultural object—movie, TV show, ice-cream flavor, what have you—demands that a certain amount of anger be generated in response to it. If tons of people despise something—like, say, the comedy of Carlos Mencia—the Anger Quota has already been filled, and I don’t have to feel strongly about it one way or another. But if I dislike something that pretty much everyone loves—Some Like It Hot, or OK Computer—then I really have my hating cut out for me. In the case of Juno, so many people I know dislike it that I’m off the hook. I didn’t even flinch at the worst line in the movie—when Juno’s friend reacts to news of the pregnancy by exclaiming “Honest to blog?!”—because I knew that at that moment, mushroom clouds were exploding all over Silver Lake and Los Feliz. In effect, my peers were doing the hating for me. Thanks, peers!
I pretty much agree regarding Juno: There are some annoying, too-precious things in there, but they don't spoil what I considered a generally likable movie (and it helped that I was forewarned, which prevented me from becoming part of the first-wave backlash). So what if the soundtrack panders to indie tastes? Is a pandering soundtrack all that bad if I actually enjoy it?
But never mind Juno. What I really love here is how Long has done a great job of encapsulating when bad things are worth hating, and how the actual badness of the thing must be weighed against the tide of existing hate. When enough other people hate something, it hardly seems worth the trouble to pile on, even when the thing is really bad. But if something is only mediocre but most people seem to accept it, I feel the need to dial up the hate to compensate. This, for example, was how I once felt about Empire Records, a dumb, thoroughly mediocre, thankfully forgotten movie that for some reason everyone seemed to love when I was in high school.
The CAQ also explains the subtle workings that, on a macro level, motivate backlash and anti-backlash. Saying that you subscribe to it is sort of just a way of saying that you are leading the march in whatever backlash or anti-backlash tide you may unconsciously be a part of. You're not only the first one to turn against that band you liked before everyone else, you're also the first one to be reasonable and forgive them. You're out-hipstering the hipster. But you're still playing their game.