This may be an old subject with some of you, but I think it’s one of those that has to be revisited again and again.
And that is the subject of positivism vs negativity.
Since studies have shown that the former is clearly better for health and happiness than the latter, most of us have no excuse to be negative. But you’ve probably noticed that that hasn’t stopped the vast majority of people from being negative.
The problem is that it is and always has been a habit to be negative. I know people who will admit that they shouldn’t be that way, but will not put in the effort to actually change their attitude.
I started thinking about this last night, when I was watching a YouTube video (way later than I should have been, but sometimes it happens.) This video was criticizing this other YouTube channel that those of you who are big movie watchers have probably heard of. Cinema Sins.
I happen to have watched a few of their videos myself (what person hasn’t who looks up internet reviews?) I didn’t like them. Not for any of the reasons this guy was listing, but because the channel was hugely inappropriate in its humor. (And I mean gross levels of it. Not just that tongue in cheek kind of stuff.)
Anyway, so I wasn’t super defensive about hearing it criticized. And I thought the video made some legitimate points, but I won’t list them all here.
What I really was thinking about was the point that questioned if these wholly negative reviews were actually good reviews or good comedy.
I want to unpack that idea more than the actual video did, because I think it’s a whole missed discussion opportunity.
Judging both from the comment sections of YouTube, and actual people I’ve heard talk about this, many just don’t see the point of even caring about movie reviews or reviewers, and whether they are serious or not, because, in these people’s minds, movies should not be taken that seriously.
To those people I would say that when kids are kissing frogs and maniacs are planning crimes because of something they saw in a movie, we had better take it seriously.
Even if what we take out of that is that people are morons.
Well, to be fair, many of them are.
But stupidity, in my experience, is almost always taught. It’s not an innate trait of the average person to be an idiot. There’s always a few who just seem to be born without a clue, but usually it’s choices made between childhood and adulthood that shape someone’s intelligence.
Even so, intelligence is not a permanent thing. People can become stupider, they can also become smarter. We used to understand that before IQ tests cam along to tell us those things are set in stone.
So, the charge that movies are playing to the stupidest parts of human nature, and society, should be taken seriously. Because it reflects on us, what we find funny, and what we support.
People like Cinema Sins are right to be disgusted with cinema that is only there to be stupid and “funny.”
I think the dumbest thing anyone can say about movies is that they don’t matter and should not be taken seriously.
That eliminates about a third of the voices on this subject.
So, turning to the other two main opinions on reviews, I want to explain where I am on this.
At first when I started watching negative reviews, I liked it. I was frustrated with plenty of the entertainment out there, and I thought a lot of it was dumb. It was nice to be agreed with by a public source. Plus, it was funny; and I also learned some terms that people use and how movies and shows are typically rated. All helpful and interesting stuff to know for the movie goer who really wants to be careful about their time.
But the problem was, these reviews picked apart movies I did like as well as movies I didn’t. Sometimes I acknowledged they had a point. But other times, like with my favorite movie of all, it was really painful to hear it mocked to dust.
More recently I started seeking out more positive reviews. Cinema Wins, a spin off of the other, makes good review that are all focused on finding the bright side. Another good channel was How It Should Have Ended; which does poke a lot of fun at films, but ultimately they are positive, and just freaking genius some of the time. (If you like that type of humor. I won’t say everyone would like it.)
Now, Cinema Wins is sometimes naively positive about movies. But the guy knows he is, and admits it. Which is why I prefer it to these negative Nancy reviews I’m so sick of. A reviewer of movies should actually want to like movies. Otherwise how can they admit anything is of merit in any franchise?
See, at first it didn’t occur to me that watching movies expressly to find fault was a problem. But once I noticed that I couldn’t enjoy even movies I liked as much anymore now that I had all this negativity going through my mind, I got upset.
I’m not even a big fan of the entertainment industry as a whole. But when I find a gem, I don’t like it being picked apart.
Now everyone will have different standards for what constitutes a good movie. Often I think people go by the wrong things, but that’s because reviews have shifted to focusing on stuff that is minor.
How well a scene is shot, how colorful it is, or how melodic the soundtrack is are not really major things. And nitpicking every line of dialogue, or every element that doesn’t make perfect sense can completely miss the point both of the movie, and of storytelling itself.
When people used to gather around storytellers (like we do around TVs now) it didn’t matter how realistic the story was. The point was in what it meant. Was it a warning? Did it explain something about life? Did it give hope?
What’s ironic is that now, many movies and books actually use this older reason for storytelling telling as a plot point within their story.
Take that briefly popular The Giver book. The whole story turns on the past, the stories as it were, that the Giver shares with the Receiver.
The same thing with Ayn Rand’s little Anthem story. The books and tales of the past end up opening Prometheus’ eyes to the present.
It’s sad that even though this element of storytelling is used, it has to be done undercover, because people will pick the actual book to pieces over little things.
No one would fault the Receiver for accepting what the Giver tells him. (Or gives him. I haven’t actually read the book.) But in the real world, stories aren’t often received so well.
I think I’ll have to make a part two to finish this properly, so until next post–Natasha.