Why I Gave Denzel Washington the Benefit of the Doubt

Denzel Washington used to really piss me off.

It wasn’t anything he did. It wasn’t anything he said. And it wasn’t the quality of his acting. I know this because I hadn’t actually seen him in a film until my mid 20s.

No, the reason Denzel Washington used to really piss me off has to do with a weird little quirk I’ve found in myself.

Basically, whenever I hear about something over and over again – an actor, say – and I for one reason or another stay ignorant about it, I find that I hate it more and more and more as time goes by.

And I wouldn’t mind too much, if not for the fact that I’ve been caught out by this hundreds of times now. I’ve gone years avoiding a band because they were popular, only to realise they’re pretty good when I actually give them a listen. I’ll assume a film isn’t my kind of thing because I heard about it too much when it first came out, only to love it when I finally get round to watching it.

So now I have a rule for myself. I don’t let myself have an opinion on anything or anyone without direct experience. I’m allowed to assume and predict what I will and won’t enjoy. But I’m not allowed to claim as fact that I dislike something if I don’t have first-hand experience of it.

You might not be so irrational as me. But if you are, and you find yourself getting annoyed when you think about something you’ve never actually spent any time with, carve out half an hour and spend some time with it.

You can’t lose. Either you do hate it, and you’ve proved yourself right (which is always delicious) or you like it, and now you’ve found something new to enjoy in the future.

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