When I was a kid, my brother and I inherited the comic book collection of one of my mother’s friends’ sons (the French would doubtless have a more economical term for that degree of relatedness).  From having zero comic books, we suddenly had about 1500: Batman, Superman, World’s Finest, Adventure, Challengers of the Unknown, The Brave and the Bold, Showcase… All of them DC comics.  Because of this, when we started buying comic books, they were mostly DC.  Me, I was willing to read Marvel, I was actually interested in reading Marvel, but my brother was not.  Archie was okay, the odd Gold Key, but he would not permit Marvel comics in the house (if I sneaked one in and he found it, he did away with it…no, I’m not kidding).

I never quite got the binary switch thing: if DC, why not Marvel? If Coke, why not Pepsi?

One of my friends still believes, in her heart of hearts, that it’s either The Beatles or The Monkees, and you could only plight your loyalty to one.  This baffles me, because (as an acolyte of The Monkees) she lost out on a lot of the music that I still love best in the world.  It’s four decades since this was an issue, and yet–she knows all the words to “Daydream Believer.” I do too (to my kids’ bemusement) but I also know an awful lot of Beatles lyrics.  If The Monkees, why not The Beatles, or the Rolling Stones.  If Lerner and Loewe, why not Rogers and Hammerstein or Sondheim?

Team Edward or Team Jacob. Star Trek or Star Wars. Narnia or The Hobbit.  Why not all of the above (or in the case of Edward and Jacob: neither)?  Vanilla or chocolate?

I’m not saying it’s a bad thing to have likes and dislikes.  But I’d be careful about those binaries: Xing out a whole range of options impoverishes no one but yourself.  Vanilla fudge–or even better, coffee fudge.  With sprinkles.


About Madeleine E. Robins

Madeleine Robins is the author of The Stone War, Point of Honour, Petty Treason, and The Sleeping Partner (the third Sarah Tolerance mystery, available from Plus One Press). Her Regency romances, Althea, My Dear Jenny, The Heiress Companion, Lady John, and The Spanish Marriage are now available from Book View Café. Sold for Endless Rue , an historical novel set in medieval Italy, was published in May 2013 by Forge Books


Binary — 6 Comments

  1. Oh, my. The Monkees versus the Beatles. I recall that on in elementary school. The general opinion was that the Beatles were nice, but they were on the way out and The Monkees were the new thing. After all, they were adorable on their TV show. I didn’t think anyone stuck to that view.

  2. It wasn’t till I came to America that I even realised that Beatles/Monkees was a possible split. In the UK, it was Beatles or Stones. The Monkees were just something that happened on TV; they weren’t real music…

    • I think there was an element of age in the Beatles/Monkees split, Chaz. You might be concerned to choose one side or the other if you were in elementary or middle school. But if you were in high school and were much more sophisticated, it was more likely to be the Beatles versus the Stones.

      And I was the weird kid who was listening to Fairport Convention as well as all of the above. I don’t know that my friends had a clue what to do with me.

      • The Monkees were a pleasant TV diversion (even my mother liked them), but no one who was older than say, 12, in 1965 took them seriously as musicians. The debate I recall was Beatles v. Stones v. Dave Clark Five, which complicates the binary discussion. (Whatever happened to the Dave Clark Five?)

        I was into Peter, Paul and Mary myself. It wasn’t until “Revolver” came out that I began to appreciate the Beatles, probably because for the first year or so every time one of my friends would play a Beatles album she’d scream all the way through it so I couldn’t actually hear the music.

        And though I hate myself for it, I still love the Stones despite their misogyny. Mad’s right: why do we have to choose? Except for Coke and Pepsi. Can’t stand Pepsi.

  3. I never understood that, either. Partly because they seemed like apples and oranges, not different apples. I liked Monkees and Beatles for different reasons, all soda pop tastes the same to me (disgusting), and Mac vs. PC arguments make my eyes glaze. (I have both.)

  4. I prefer Mac because it’s what I’m used to, but I refuse to get into religious arguments about it. Likewise Marvel and DC, and chocolate and vanilla. And anyway, making it all about The One or The Other rules out the third, fourth, and 17th things (butterscotch, for God’s sake. Peach. Blueberry ripple).