Tuesday, July 20, 2010



The Fear of Criticism.


“Everyone’s a critic” he said with a sneer


A friend asked me why I hate every film once the face of the planet. The statement caught me off guard considering I'm a cinematic consuming nut job.

“I love tons of stuff” I yelped like a hurt five year old.

My friend saw I was about to burst into tears and wanted to avoid making a scene.

“Well, you always LOVE or HATE stuff. There’s no in between.”

Anger bubbled in me. He thought I didn’t know any better. I was just a sap that made snap judgments and stuck by them for no other reason than pride. He thought I was ruled by nothing but emotion.

I jumped on his chest, primal screamed, and ripped his throat out. WITH MY TEETH!



“That’s not true. There are tons of films I don’t LOVE but would recommend to people.”

“But then, why do you always tear everything apart?”

“I...I just... I like to talk about stuff. You know – discuss!”

“You always criticize stuff.”


No one likes that word.

It means you’re saying nothing but hurtful things, smashing the pieces to make fun of them, being a bully because you have a superiority complex.


Bad criticism is saying something is bad. Good criticism is saying what’s good, what’s bad, and how it could have been done better – unless it’s perfect.

Very, very, very, very things are perfect*

There’s GOOD and BAD in everything. I enjoy discussion, breaking things down, and analyzing why something worked or didn’t. I like to build a case. One that has its own logic (internal or external). People can disagree, that’s unavoidable, but an opinion should be solid enough that it can be appreciated, if not agreed with. I'm not going to get into what make a film work or fail miserably, because you have to make up your own mind. If I set it down on paper, I wouldn't even agree with my own criteria sometimes depending on the film. It's all subjective, but it needs to have its own logic**

I can understand how someone can say ‘Well, I liked it...because…well…I just felt it.”, but more often that’s just an excuse to avoid talking about it, not a reason. Some people don’t like discuss stuff. They just want to watch it, read it, listen to it, enjoy it and move on. I don’t like it, but I can respect their wishes, just as long as they don’t start to knock me down if I want to do it.

We live in a society that is terrified of criticism – because with criticism comes the threat that something is at fault – and in a society with school system that cherishes 100%, mistakes are unacceptable. It has to be either perfect or terrible. Instead of dismantling something from a critical perspective, and offering improvements for the next time around, most people chose not to talk about it. If we do have something to say we describe it in the broadest of terms. We cover up our actual critical opinions with “Worst thing I’ve ever seen”, ‘GREATEST THING EVER” or “It’s not a classic or anything...” because those sentences are buffers. They’re just empty buzz phrases intended deflate opinions. No one takes that hyperbole seriously. No one has to worry.

Sometimes, we don’t discuss, but state opinions as fact. THIS SUCKED. THIS ROCKED. YOU’RE WRONG. YOU’RE RIGHT. No changing our minds. We’ve decided something and we forced ourselves stick by it. I find that even worse than being quiet. Just because you’re louder than me doesn’t mean you’re right.

I once got in a fight with someone after I said I thought a film was 'TRASH'. I admitted later on it was a harsh word to use, but I still I listed all the reasons the first word came about. They remained angry, accusing me thinking I know everything, that I was DEFINING the film and saying THIS IS WHAT IT IS. Sorry to disappoint, but I’m not a god, I can’t create matter. I can only speak for myself. Opinion is my thoughts. If I say something is ‘awesome’ that’s because I perceive it as awesome – I’m not saying t will be awesome in your eyes. I don’t know everything. I’ve lived a different life than you. My opinion could be different than yours. My opinion can change, I can be convinced, I can double over and admit I was wrong. The trick is to leave the doors open***

Don’t jump to the conclusion, or to the negative, remember it all makes up a whole, but stuff can live independently. Some parts of the cake are tastier than others.

“So...You said one of the supporting characters was bad. WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU THE FILM IS A CLASSIC!”

“I thought the cinematography was amazing.

“Yea, but, there’s stuff you didn’t like, so that MUST MEAN YOU HATE IT.

“The story is filled with twists and turn. I really liked the—


It’s easy to paint things in black in white. Shades of grey make things complicated. The world so inundated with information that it’s much easier to rate everything on a number scale or make up your mind on a buzz phrase. Instead of saying “The film didn’t work on a pacing level for me, but I did enjoy the characters” we’d much rather go “IT SUCKED!” We don’t need to be afraid of discussing things. It’s not going to bite us back. It’s just going to make the experience fuller.

Next time you go see a movie – talk about it with your friends. Have a discussion. Don’t be afraid of being a critic. It’s not a bad thing.


P.S: I won’t get into things like “What did you expect? It’s not Shakespeare! All I wanted was ROBOTS FIGHTING!” orr “I enjoy things on nothing but ironic levels.” That’s a dry rant for another day.

*The list of things that are perfect at this moment are Neil Patrick Harris, Shaun of the Dead, and selected works of Terry Pratchett.

** I say this now and await the swarm of people that will say “You always jump to conclusions, like when you said that…”. Yea, none of us are infallible and sometimes we’re lazy. It’s much easier to write it then continually practice.

*** The title of this text is a play on quote from the film ARMY OF DARKNESS - a piece of cinema I LOVE but will be the first to admit is full of crippling faults. Sometimes certain elements superseeds the most basic of cinematic expectations.

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