Everyone’s a critic (myself included)

3bc44b4f9de552eed27fb35ea3069739 The internet is an abyss of opinions. Well formed opinions. Shitty half baked opinions. Opinions that are often so poorly considered that I don’t now if they even count as opinions at all. But one thing is for certain, everyone has to have an opinion on everything.

Now, it would be ridiculous for me to sit here and try and point out how the opinions of others are wrong while mine are right cause, after all, that’s just my opinion and I’m full of shitty opinions. What I wanna focus on here is more “how to have an opinion”. Especially when judging art. As I see it, critical thinking towards art has two ends of the spectrum. People who judge with their head and people who judge with their heart. The people who judge with their heart tend to be the ones who react to their own feelings. They’re visceral people. Maybe they’ll see a movie where something unsavory happens (a rape, killing of a dog, gruesome murder, a strained father/daughter relationship) and the fact that happened alone will immediately make them dislike the movie. Even though that thing happening isn’t exactly a reason to base an opinion on the art itself, they cannot remove themselves enough from it and it ruins everything for them. Sure, the film where that is happening may be a brilliantly crafted movie. Doesn’t matter. It hit some nerves and , to these types of people, can no longer be judged on it’s merit.

The people who judge from the head are more concerned with the mechanics of art. They’re the types who will see a movie and dismiss it due to poor lighting , unrealistic dialogue and tiny holes in a plot. They will often overlook the big picture just to pick apart the minutia of filmmaking. So, yeah, that movie may have been an impressive feat in film making and looked amazing but did you see how bad the transitional shots were? That movie is now tainted.

In both instances, you have someone judging something in a myopic fashion. In a way, they’re both missing the bigger picture in spite of themselves. Now, I’m not innocent of this. While I’ve never been one to dislike a movie cause of something horrific that happens in it, I certainly have watched a movie with terrible dialogue and been like “eh, I can’t do this…” but here’s the thing…As critical people, we must understand the difference between our feelings and the actual value of the art. For instance, I don’t listen to Kendrick Lamar. I don’t really enjoy his voice. That’s it. It’s very simple. That said, I’d be a total asshole if I were to sit here and tell you he was garbage. He’s not. In fact, he’s immensely talented. Dude is a fantastic rapper. I would never deny that. He’s simply not for me at this time in my life. Therefor, when it’s time to chime in on Kendrick Lamar on the internet, I simply stay out of it. It’s not my place to judge him on that level. I know how I feel but also recognize that’s just me. Talent, in most ways, isn’t something you can judge. If it’s clearly there, it’s there. In the case of Kendrick, it’s clearly there.

All this comes up cause a friend of mine made a post on Facebook the other day about not liking the new Mad max movie. Now, I loved this movie. It’s possibly the best action movie I’ve ever seen. Possibly. That said, it’s an action movie and nothing else. There is not a ton of depth to it (even though many have certainly tried to apply a whole feminist arc to it but, let’s be honest, it’s simply expertly executed and amazingly filmed balls to the wall action). But this is a movie that doesn’t need to be deep. It’s made for a specific kind of movie goer. A movie goer who likes excitement and fun. This is not a film made to make you think about life. In fact, it’s q distraction. An incredible distraction. Now, my friends take was that she was simply “Not into it”, which , to me, read as a person who doesn’t really care for action movies. Fair enough. I can’t sit through a movie where people with british accents wear powdered wigs. The best movie of that genre ever will not be enjoyable to me. So, I get it. More power to my friend. She 100% has the right to feel that way. It was when I delved into the comment section that I began to feel a brewing of injustice and shitty critical thought (yes, this is me criticizing critics).While a few people disagreed with her (I was one of them), there were just as many people who echoed her feelings but with an added heavy hand and pretentiousness. I saw people complaining about the dialogue, the gender roles, the lack of a real plot…Dude…it’s a mad max movie. What are you expecting? This is where I think people need to remove their head out of their asses when it comes to critical thinking. Know what you’re being critical of.

You can’t judge everything under the same merit. “City of god” and “Macgruber” do not live on the same critical plane. They just can’t. Now, granted, I’m assuming a few of the people in the comment section of this post were film students. So, it’s their job to pick apart everything and remove fun from watching films. I get it. Everything has to be serious. But, to me, there is a time and place for those things. “Mad Max:Fury Road” and “Precious” cannot be approached in the same way, critically.  It also kinda made me sad. I mean, these people are depriving themselves the most basic level of enjoyment cause they simply can’t sit back in a movie theater and go along for a ride.

It’s times like this that I feel a kinship to the simpletons of the world. The people who will see “Transformers 5:The rise of lowering of the standards” and can leave the theater totally satisfied. After all, movies are entertainment. If they entertain you, then they did their job. But, they are also art. So that’s where the balance must be found. To be entertaining and artistically fulfilling. If you’re leaving a movie like “Mad Max: Fury road” and complaining about gender roles or dialogue, you watched that movie wrong. The same way if I were to listen to a kendrick lamar album and complain about the kind of hi hats he used and “how come he didn’t rap about what it’s like being a white male!”. It’s just being critical for the sake of being critical and missing the point completely. Save those type of criticisms for things that are asking for them. Like an indie movie about a wacky sister and her slow brother who find a kinship when their dad dies. It’s sad and funny! That’s the movie to pick apart like it was your classmates final project. Not “Mad Max”. Not “The Naked Gun”. Not a sports documentary. I’m by no means saying these films are above judgement. I’m just saying, you must judge them for what they are and what they strived to be. I feel bad for both people who judge with just their heads or just their hearts cause they are really missing out. It’s a nice feeling to just let yourself go and enjoy something for what it is. Allow the low brow yokel inside all of us to peak it’s head out every now and then. But also, keep the snobbish film nerd on call as well cause, let’s be honest, there needs to be a filter of what we do and do not allow to seep into our eyes and ears. As always, striking a happy medium is crucial. Take it from me. I’m a libra and my life is totally medium.

12 thoughts on “Everyone’s a critic (myself included)

    • *post
      (how annoying is that? Pretty annoying, right?)

      As far as formatting goes though, I don’t even know what that is. This is just a blog of bullshit. I sit down write, do minor edits and press send. If the grammar , format or spelling is off, so be it. I’m not writing a novel here.

      • I usually do. I mean, I try to separate them but, often, once it’s published, it doesn’t set it right. I swear I don’t write just one huge brick of words.
        EDIT:Ah, I set it up right. Now we’re in format business.

  1. I agree, Mad Max is the probably one of the best movies that wasn’t complicated to understand and didn’t have a ton of cgi effects in it. Its everything the trailer promised, Cars, Guns and a shit ton of explosions! How can you not enjoy that?!

    • Usually on remakes like this, ppl forget the originals were cheeseball too and expect some kind of Dark Knight masterpiece. Bitches get entitled.

  2. Been a huge fan since Music By Cavelight’s release, you had a Myspace, all that shit, and I’ve read your insights on this topic over the years.

    I think it really comes down to the art vs entertainment debate. To some people this shit is simply entertainment and will never be anything more. To some people they will never know music or film CAN BE anything more than entertainment so they will continue their pattern seeking behavior and will never venture outside their comfort zone. They will never understand that music or film can stimulate your mind and allow you to view the world in creatives new ways.

    From reading your writing for literally years I’ve garnered you really resent the arrogance and presumptuousness of the “artsy” types, not so much the pursuit of art, or the emphasis of art over entertainment, or intellectualism vs. escapism.

    So much of this depends on your perspective, obviously musicians are going to be so much more invested in these arguments and are 99.999999% more likely to be that self-righteous preacher who everyone was tired of listening to by 2002.

    My main sadness is it seems no one really gives a fuck about simple musicianship anymore. No one cares about playing instruments, no one values simple music ability, like just playing the piano or the violin or the classical guitar. I’ve had people tell me everything is cyclical and there will be a movement back to more traditional bands and musicianship but I’m skeptical there is the interest or the landscape for it to occur.

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