Occasionally I find my social media statuses growing so elaborate they become blogposts. This is one of them, from yesterday.
A question from a guy in one of the (Facebook) movie groups: “Are these films any good? They only get five out of ten stars in the ratings”….in other words, he only watches movies based on what other people think. A lady in response to my trashing of the theatrical production of The 39 Steps: “But it was so good on Broadway! I wonder what happened to it.” These two people have the same misconception — that the opinions of others have OBJECTIVE reality. Now, a critic at least has what I call “judgment”. Ideally he/ she is at least well-informed and might be able to offer guidance as to why he / she took pleasure in an experience and why you might too, or even why he/she thought an artist possessed skill.
But even that informed opinion should be taken with a grain of salt. Art is not a sports play. The runner is never “safe” or “out”. If you are basing your choices on EITHER word of mouth OR a critic’s two cents you’re really not giving yourself much credit. How about having a MIND OF YOUR OWN, being aware of your own proclivities and buying tickets based on your own tastes? And judging for yourself whether something appeals to you or not. There is no “good” or “bad”. I assure you that I love HUNDREDS of films others find bad, and I can argue, quite intellectually, why they are the greatest pieces of art since the Sistine Ceiling. And at the same time my threshold of tolerance for shows and movies that might be called popular successes is quite low. I walked out of Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson after ten minutes — the laughter of the audience was like fingernails on chalkboard to me. I can’t think of any stupider, denser question than “Will I like this?” How the hell should I know? How can anyone know? I’m not YOU.