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On Subjectivity

On Subjectivity published on 1 Comment on On Subjectivity

For about three years now, Greg, Billy, and I have had a protracted debate about whether or not Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze is a watchable movie. On the one hand, Greg and Billy believe it’s great, and on the other hand are the people who have taste.

I’m not immune to this either. In my top ten movies—of all time, mind you—is an absolutely terrible movie from 2002 called The New Guy about a young, still-hopeful DJ Qualls trying to bang Eliza Dushku. The movie is best known for having a shitload of cameos in it and perhaps being the most “early 2000s” thing you’ve ever seen. It currently holds a respectable 7% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

What I’m trying to say is that opinions are subjective. Given the nature of Low Five’s content, it’s sort of ironic to turn around and say that our reviews should be disregarded in favor of individual taste, but it’s true. Everyone’s priorities are different, and just because we’ve said something is good or bad doesn’t make it true.

For something like The New Guy, there’s a soft spot in my heart for high school/college movies. The film is so relentlessly cheesy and optimistic that I can’t help but be entertained by every stupid line. It’s also self-aware in a way that makes me feel less lame for laughing at it. It hits every bad high school movie trope: Everyone in the movie is like, thirty; they manage to work in an underdog football team subplot; it’s a beautiful thing. These are things that I value in certain subgenres of movie. Greg and Billy really like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the fact that (Jesus Christ guys) Vanilla Ice is in it is fun to them rather than infuriating.

Nostalgia is almost entirely built on this concept. That thing that you love from your childhood? I promise it’s not as good as you remember it being. Dragon Ball Z has aged like shit, Sailor Moon was poorly animated, almost every children’s program from the 80s and early 90s was terrible; trust me, I promise. But it’s not about quality at that point, it’s about the value it holds to you as an audience member.

I get so mind-numbingly frustrated by things that are clearly written by consensus to sell tickets. Suicide Squad was like that. Why was The Joker in it? Because some studio executive didn’t have enough faith in B-list Batman villains to make a whole movie out of it, so they threw The Joker in for like seven minutes. And they based the entire marketing campaign around The Joker. I hate that! But you know what? I’ll bet you that a lot of people only went to see that movie to see how Jared Leto stacked up against Heath Ledger. And I’ll bet that some people thought that movie was better because The Joker was in it. And that’s okay! In fact it’s great. Everyone should disagree with me, because it broadens the media spectrum when people yell at each other.

This is why Greg hates scoring things as part of the review process. A 7 to him might be a 3 to me, or a 10 to Billy. Earlier tonight I went and saw the Beauty and the Beast live action remake, and it was okay. But you know what? I thought the original was okay as well. It’s never been my favorite Disney princess movie (Mulan is the best and if you disagree I will fight you.) But the people in the theater with me were, I’m not kidding, crying tears of joy when Emma Watson broke into “Belle.” Based on everyone’s reaction, my own included, I’d say the film is living up to expectations.

I think this kind of subjectivity is great, to be honest. I’d go so far as to encourage you all not to listen to me. As a creator, a world where people are encouraged to make the weird, esoteric things that they like rather than what’s decided by consensus sounds ideal. It’s how we end up with The Nightmare Before Christmas, or The Matrix, or even less successful stuff like 9. Unique aesthetics foster healthy creative environments, and unique aesthetics only exist when people get to do what they like rather than what will sell.

So yes, bring on the bad movies, the niche genre flicks, the whatever-the-fuck-Quentin-Tarantino-is-doing-right-now. The status quo is maintained by imitators, but it’s set by innovators, and innovators are the ones that are making all the ambitious films that only 10% of people on Rotten Tomatoes like.

Also they made The New Guy. And Secret of the Ooze. But I digress.

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