The real thing, or substitute?
I will say something that might not sit well with everybody.
Do you think that people obsess over lens signatures and bokeh mostly because their photography in general is lacking? Basically substituting technique or lens artifacts for content.
For example, look at how a lot of over 100 year old portrait lenses are used with wet plate and large format. If you look at many old portraits, the sitter is always centered, and the background is out of focus so that the fall-off imperfections of the lens aren't apparent (or minimized) in the photograph. They tried to work around the shortcomings of the lens. But today all that funky stuff at the edge of the lens' image circle is embraced as 'cool' and 'interesting'... Why? Does it really make the photograph better?
I think about this a lot. Please note that I don't consider my own work superior to others in any way, it's just a question that I'm interested in. And I do realize it's mostly a free world, and people are free to do whatever they feel like, and the best part of photography is to have fun! So if it's fun to use these old lenses, or being fascinated with their qualities then I'm absolutely not calling it wrong or anything like that. It's all good to me. But when I look at photographs I really don't care much about those things. I have a couple of lenses that I know well, use often, and don't really wonder much what's on the other side of the fence.