I had some interesting exchanges with people about musicals recently, on Facebook even (who said nothing good ever happens there?). It started when I said, after the not-quite-live TV event, that I don't really "get" Rent, and I never have. That's probably extra surprising because when it came out, shortly after I graduated from college, it dealt with some of my pet causes, including HIV/AIDS awareness and inclusion and equality for non-straight people (did we have an acronym in those days?). Back then, it was just that the music didn't grab me. Eventually the movie made me even more indifferent, and finally seeing it on stage last year confirmed that indifference. I find almost all of the characters unlikable, and the interpersonal conflicts feel silly. And don't get me started about the Mark character, who comes off as a hipster douche. Maybe it just hasn't aged well.
My feelings on the show are not universally shared, and in fact are probably the opposite of what most people think. I don't care for Les Miserables either, so that's at least two strikes against my musical street cred. I don't hate either one of them, mind you, I just don't identify with the generally high praise. The truth is that I don't hate very many musicals, and I've seen probably around 40 lifetime (about 20 in just the last four years) at various levels of ability. I mean, even the Gloria Estefan show was entertaining, if not particularly deep. I've only ever truly hated one show. Overall I think musicals are an essential art form that I wish more people could see.
When it comes to art, we like what we like. Not everyone will understand that The Big Lebowski and Lost In Translation are brilliant movies, and it's OK that those people are wrong. (Winky emoji or whatever.) Still others will never appreciate Garbage or The Naked And Famous the way I do. But it's good that art makes us feel stuff, even if it is indifference.