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Forget Politics, Here Are 10 Things That Really Divide Americans

Americans aren't as divided over politics as the pundits say. But they disagree on everything else.

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3. Coen Brothers' Movies

 

You either loved “Barton Fink” or you hated it. You either cheered on “A Serious Man’s” Academy Award nomination, or you were dismayed by it. You either think “The Hudsucker Proxy” is hilarious and biting, or you thought it should have been straight-to-video schlock. These are the reactions the Coen brothers’ catalog tend to evoke, proving that in Bush terms, you’re either with the dynamic directorial duo or you are against them.

My Coen Brothers litmus test is “The Big Lebowski” – love or hate the specific story, if you didn’t think this film was a virtuoso of writing, acting and cinematography, there’s something obviously wrong with you. Then again, I’m in the “with the Coen Brothers camp” – and no doubt members of the other camp probably think I’m insane for being such a Lebowski-phile.

4. Apple

 

Flash your Apple iPhone to a PC devotee, and you may be inducing a fight. Likewise, show a Mac owner your Windows-based laptop, and you are likely to be ridiculed. Such are the skirmishes in the 21st century Technology Wars.

Thanks to its insurgent success, Apple has become a cultural Rorschach test. Followers of the Cult of Cupertino see a company that has innovated its way to success,  tearing down dinosaur oligopolies (record companies, cellphone firms, Microsoft, etc.) in the process. By contrast, sworn enemies of the company see in Apple a monster that seems to offer an easy interface, but really traps users in Steve Jobs’ inflexible operating system a la  Master Control.

For years, I was on the PC side, but after one too many Windows crashes, I’m now on the Apple side with the zeal of a convert. That said, no matter which side you are on, it’s important to set aside emotion and realize that your position is as much a reflection of your technological requirements as it is a corporate-manufactured tribal affinity in one of the most intense branding competitions in modern history. In other words, whether you are an Apple lover or Apple hater, we’ve all been programmed.

5. Dane Cook

 

Arena shows are typically reserved for bands — and not just any bands. Major generation-shaping bands such as U2 and the Rolling Stones. So when a stand-up comedian sells out arenas, it’s no small achievement. So fine, kudos to Dane Cook for  accomplishing something other, far more talented comedians have never come close to accomplishing.

However, as the  Florida Times-Union notes, just because Cook has a devoted following doesn’t mean he’s not one of the most polarizing people in the entire entertainment world. “There are a whole lot of people who really hate comedian Dane Cook,” the paper notes.”There are also a lot of people who really love him. The haters cite his sometimes insensitive routines and his general Dane Cook-ness. Supporters just think the guy’s funny.”

I’m in the hater camp – and not because of any of Cook’s  dog poop or joke-stealing controversies, and not because his grinning face should be next to the word “smug” in the dictionary. No, I don’t like Cook because the dude is just not funny. Indeed, not only do I find Cook utterly, soul-crushingly unfunny, I’m convinced people who insist he’s funny don’t actually believe that. I’m convinced they are merely pretending they think he’s funny for some other unstated reason. (A “dittohead” parroting of word-of-mouth zeitgeist? a hipster statement of taste? Something else?)

Now, I realize that’s a presumptuous assertion — after all, why the hell do Cook detractors think they have an unassailable definition of humor? We don’t — but the suspicion that nobody could really believe he’s funny speaks to just how divisive Cook has become.

 
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