Stop Gatekeeping Home Theater
Why do people get involved with a hobby? It is because they read about it and think, “Yep, I’m going to spend most of my free time and disposable income on that now!” Of course not. They have some sort of experience that turns them on to the hobby and they fall in love. Home theater is the same. You walk into a showroom or a home and hear a movie or music in a way that you never thought possible in that environment. And you got hooked. But you know what doesn’t ever get people into a hobby? People trying to keep them out. That’s why we have to stop gatekeeping home theater.
What Is Gatekeeping
I probably don’t have to define this for you but, in the interest of making sure we are all on the same page, gatekeeping is when someone that is knowledgeable about a thing tries to exclude others for not being as knowledgeable. We see this all the time in hobbies. Oh, you are wearing a Nirvana t-shirt? Name three of their songs that aren’t Smells Like Teen Spirit. You want to ride a motorcycle? You’re not a “biker” if you wear a suit to a job. Pick a hobby. There are these unwritten rules that people use to exclude others. If you’ve been on the other side of this gatekeeping, you know why we need to stop doing it in home theater.
There are thousands of ways people use to gatekeep home theater that need to stop. Mostly they are off comments that serve to make the gatekeeper feel superior while putting down the other. Here are a few:
You Don’t have a Home Theater if You have a Soundbar
If home theater had a gateway drug, it would look and sound exactly like a soundbar. Yes, a full system would sound better. Yes, they are usually overpriced, overhyped pieces of junk. But everyone starts somewhere. Going from your TV’s speakers to a soundbar is (usually) a huge improvement. But any discerning listener will eventually recognize that a soundbar isn’t good enough. That’s when they start looking into real home theater equipment.
With the size of flat panels expanding so quickly, this one has become less common. People have stopped gatekeeping home theaters as only rooms with projectors. That’s a good thing. But it isn’t completely gone. There are still people out there that believe that a projector is the defining characteristic of a home theater. This is just no longer the case. We’d argue that it was never true.
We’ve delineated between “home theaters” and “cinema spaces” on this website. But if you consider your great room to be your home theater, more power to you. There are those, however, that believe that if you use your room for anything other than watching movies, then it can’t be a home theater. Can you hear us rolling our eyes? Because we are.
One thing home theater gatekeepers need to stop harping on is “real” subwoofers. Yes, many of the boxes that are marketed as “subwoofers,” aren’t. We admit that having a subwoofer is important. But to say that someone can’t call their room a home theater without one is gatekeeping of the highest order.
TV Too High and Other Nitpicks
One quick gatekeeping method that has to stop in home theater is criticizing the placement of someone’s gear. Most commonly this is the height of someone’s TV but it can often be how they label their surround speakers (don’t call them backs or rears or you will be called out) or where they place and orient their speakers. This gatekeeping is dismissive and pointless. So what if someone’s TV isn’t in the “best” place? Who cares if their center channel speaker is above or below their TV? Or the design of their center for that matter!
In most cases, those that are pointing out these nitpicky “flaws” in someone’s home theater are gatekeeping in proxy. By that I mean that they are only parroting what others have said. How does that help anyone? Stop gatekeeping home theater and go out and actually get some experience!
Take Away: Don’t be a D!ck
All it takes is one mean word to turn someone off a hobby. When people come to a forum or Internet group looking for help, they are at their most vulnerable. No one likes to admit they need help (especially your stereotypical male). All it takes is one off-comment for them to decide that “everyone” in the hobby is a jerk.
Insulting someone (or gatekeeping them calling their room a home theater) because of one or more minor errors only serves to alienate them and push them away from the hobby. Rather, we should be encouraging people to get interested in our hobby. How? That’s for our next article!