Review scores


So in light of the non-content yesterday, I decided to update with some actual thought-provoking discussions for once, inspired by being high and watching “Dude where’s my car?” last night. It got me thinking, crazy I know, when I started searching for the movie on the internet. I have nothing but fond memories of that title, and so did the friends who spent the evening eating brownies with me. Inevitably the ratings of the movies came up, and I was rather shocked. It is no surprise that the core audience of such a movie is 90’s American youth, but I never expected such a disparity in ratings between critics and viewers.

I have made my opinions on professional critics long ago. It’s rather simple really: you just need to be paid to be called professional, and honestly I cannot be bothered to give a toss. Unlike something with a combination of science, like say video games, it’s much harder to be objective with an art form, and even with video games it is still widely relative. Thus, aside from the occasional terrible movie that applies to no one, is filmed terribly and made without any effort, your mileage will always vary. A critic, at least one that’s paid, will always hold her or his taste in higher regards when it comes to their field of expertise. I understand that, as I am very much the same. It might sound like the pot calling the kettle black, but you have to be very careful when it comes to these kinds of things. Art isn’t science. The experts of production will always be better than you are at it, but the experts of the product itself may never apply to you, because you’re not coming from the same perspective as her/him.

“Dude, Where’s my car?” – henceforth referred to as Dude – is obviously a dumb movie for stoners, but so what? It makes about as much sense as “The Hangover”, and that one received critical acclaim. Opinion is truly a fickle thing, because no one can truly tell another person how to enjoy art. People see things differently. That’s why I think Avatar was a dumb movie. That’s why I think Gone Home was terrible. That’s why I found Dude to be so unbelievably funny. If I were to take the scores into account, it would have been accounted as a terrible movie. It probably is, but in the context I watched it in, it was extremely enjoyable. That’s also why I liked the Lego Movie, not because it makes me think about family values or heroism or any such nonsense. No, it was extremely dumb, and funny because of its simplicity and being full of references. That brings me next to my point: I obviously don’t agree with what the critics say most of the time. A lot of people don’t as well, but then a lot of people also agree with them blindly so that they can feel like they have more refined taste. It is quite funny to see the things people are willing to do just to feel superior, especially when it comes at the cost of their own individuality.

While I would love to go on about the hivemind mentality, that would be missing the point. I would, however, like to talk about the liberal usage of scores within the reviews on places like IMDB and Metacritic.

Thus, at the end of the day for most kinds of art, the only thing you can really objectively judge is the science behind it all. The problem is, the masses care not for those, and people can’t usually see the full impact of technology applied to art. The only exception to this is video game, which I will get to later. As far as post-modern art goes, no one really cares if you drew your painting on a computer or on a physical canvas, as long as they think it looks good it will be hailed. Those who hate it will hate it, plain and simple. What exactly are you going to convey to people by using scores? I would understand a positive/negative or recommended/not, but what does a score do? Is a 6 worse than a 7? Is a scale of 5 or 10 or 20 or whatever you use capable of putting movies in perspective? What does a 10 mean? A perfect movie? There’s no such thing. The best movie made so far? Well what’ll happen when something else better comes along? You give it a 10 plus? None of you ever even bothered to justify the score? Are you rating it on enjoyment, technology, music, what? Scores make zero sense, and you should stop doing it entirely. This is already bad when it comes to extremely one-dimensional art, and it’s going to get worse.

So here’s where the video game aspects come in. Video games, unlike paintings, movies or music, are mutli-dimensional. They have many aspects contributing to the player’s enjoyment of the experience, as well as an unique aspect in immersion. If you give it a ratings in scores or stars or cookie jars or whatever, how do you quantify that? What are you judging on? The story, the cutscenes, the gunplay, the controls, the animation, the art, the design, the music, the challenge, the length, the technology, what? Whatever it is, it cannot be accurately portrayed with a score, especially not in your catch-all definition of ratings. I am sick, and bloody tired, of people claiming they need a score. What is wrong with you? You don’t always share the perspective of other people, so what does a combined score even mean to you? If you happen to find a good critic that shares the same background of a game as you, why not just listen to him? If you did, then a yes or a no does the job just fine, not some arbitrary scale that will never come into play the next time a game rolls along. It’s as if there are those with low enough self-esteem that they’d much rather subdue to the collective and hail their responses as gospels, rather than forming their own opinions, even though the appreciation of art is supposed to be a personal experience.

I should probably end this now before I go off the rails.

Image found here


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