Objective Lesson

 Pages PREV 1 2
 

DemBones:
If Bob wasn't a competent, well informed critic he wouldn't have his own show and column and we wouldn't be talking about him.

Armond White and Harry Knowles are well known, employed critics. Many people who are ill-informed, biased and barely competent are hired and put on display these days. Just because you're on the front page doesn't mean you don't suck.

It seems a lot of people misunderstand how a critic writes reviews. It looks to me as though people are asking for recommendations contrary to Bob's point of view because other people might enjoy the movie. Of course other people might enjoy the movie, but that gives no excuse for a recommendation of a bad (to him) movie. That's not what the critic's job is. It's to tell you what HE thought about the movie, and why HE thought that way. No critic I have ever read (I read newspapers, so they number in the dozens of critics, writing about hundreds of movies) has ever said "for people who like this kind of movie, they should see it." No, they give THEIR thoughts, often less well explained than Bob, and a general recommendation. Not two recommendations, like one for dunces and one for geniuses, or one for sports fans and one for gamers. The most I've seen from say, Ebert, was "if you X, this might mean more to you..." But that's as far as it goes, and I've hear Bob say that before. This seems to have devolved into I liked X, and Bob didn't review it nicely, so to be a better critic he should change his review to make it nicer about X, or at least recommend it to me. A.) He doesn't know you, or your movie tastes, and by that logic EVERY movie deserves a recommendation to it's fans because they "might like it better." B.) You miss what critics are for, see earlier part. For Bob to even include a cop-out phrase like, "well, I didn't like it, but you might!" would be unprofessional, because that's giving a recommendation for a movie that he views as bad. Most of the criticisms lobbied against Bob have the same flavour, and if lobbied at nearly any other movie critic, wouldn't even be considered. I think it's astonishing for him to address the vitriol on his bias like this, and if anything, Bob's explanations lend more credence to his professionalism, not less.

SpiderJerusalem:

DemBones:
If Bob wasn't a competent, well informed critic he wouldn't have his own show and column and we wouldn't be talking about him.

Armond White and Harry Knowles are well known, employed critics. Many people who are ill-informed, biased and barely competent are hired and put on display these days. Just because you're on the front page doesn't mean you don't suck.

Quit nitpicking. Do you think Bob sucks then? Because that's what you lead on... Disagreeing with an argument is fine, just say something. All I saw you do was disagree to post your disagreement. For the record, I don't think Bob sucks, and I disagree with you, or at least what I think you were trying to say. Which could have been nothing.

Is objectivity really inevitable or this just an excuse for people who can't view things from a fresh perspective?

God of Path:

SpiderJerusalem:

DemBones:
If Bob wasn't a competent, well informed critic he wouldn't have his own show and column and we wouldn't be talking about him.

Armond White and Harry Knowles are well known, employed critics. Many people who are ill-informed, biased and barely competent are hired and put on display these days. Just because you're on the front page doesn't mean you don't suck.

Quit nitpicking. Do you think Bob sucks then? Because that's what you lead on... Disagreeing with an argument is fine, just say something. All I saw you do was disagree to post your disagreement. For the record, I don't think Bob sucks, and I disagree with you, or at least what I think you were trying to say. Which could have been nothing.

It's nitpicking pointing out the obvious logical failure in one persons argument? Oh how times have changed.

For the record, yes, I think Bob is a pretty terrible critic, who far too often falls into that Harry Knowles school of writing where he constitutes hyperbole, audience insulting and poorly researched puff pieces as journalism. He takes minor grudges and holds them for months (like with Scott Pilgrim and Expendables), outright calls people with different views retards and rednecks and never misses a chance to attempt at putting himself in the spotlight as "one of the pros", which started out as funny and now is just sad.

SpiderJerusalem:

For the record, yes, I think Bob is a pretty terrible critic, who far too often falls into that Harry Knowles school of writing where he constitutes hyperbole, audience insulting and poorly researched puff pieces as journalism. He takes minor grudges and holds them for months (like with Scott Pilgrim and Expendables), outright calls people with different views retards and rednecks and never misses a chance to attempt at putting himself in the spotlight as "one of the pros", which started out as funny and now is just sad.

You're probably not going to hear this a lot, since there seems too much to be an element of fanboy-ism revolving around the issue, but thanks for your opinion.

I don't really see him insulting the audience a lot, and disagree that hyperbole makes for poor critique. Also I saw your "grudges" as a way to string a bit of cohesion to an otherwise episodic show. And as for calling people retards and rednecks, it's crass, but there's not much wrong with that. Political correctness is bullshit, and I honestly see Bob calling a spade a spade.

DemBones:
If Bob wasn't a competent, well informed critic he wouldn't have his own show and column and we wouldn't be talking about him. That being said, there has always been one aspect of Bob's critiquing style that has bugged me. Bob tends to preframe his experience going into a movie too much.

...

Bob said months ago (probably even over a year ago) that he was greatly anticipating The Avengers but not TDKR. While I think both films are great and have their own merits and faults, is it not even possible that Bob's feelings for the final products weren't influenced by months of preframing an opinion?

A competent, well informed critic would realize this and take this into account. We pretty much all knew the tone of what Bob was going to say about both movies months in advance, it was just the details that we were waiting for. He was a fan in those reviews, not a critic, and while it may suck that he has to put on the critic hat when viewing a movie, that's the job he has chosen to take. When he so obviously doesn't put on the critic hat when reviewing a movie, it needs to be pointed out.

That was a hell of a long article just to point out "if you don't want a review of a game to be coloured by the reviewer's opinion, why do you read the review?"

medv4380:

Then their are uneducated critics. When I read a review of TDKR that says "Nolan is just trying to capitalize on the Occupy movement" they aren't just wrong but are uneducated. Nolan was pretty open about the movie being based on "A Tale of Two Cities", and an educated critic would know this, and the script was done before occupy, and filming was well underway when "occupy" started. Educated ,in this context, is being informed about the film, or Educated as in being well read enough to have read "A Tale of Two Cities" and spotting it themselves.

I don't expect random Self Proclaimed YouTube Internet Critics to all be well read and writers, but the ones who actually make a living off of it I do.

Plus, what's worse is that Gordon reads a passage from the actual "A Tale of Two Cities" at the funeral!

My take from all this, take Bob's opinion on geek movies with a huge grain of salt.

"Mostly, it's because 'objectivity' is one of those concepts that's impossible to define because the pure version of it doesn't exist."

This is like arguing that air is one of those concepts that's impossible to define "because the pure version of it doesn't exist".

Anyone who's ever taken a non-vocational college semester knows there are plenty of well-defined concepts of which there is no "pure version" --- what's "justice", for example? Where's the pure version of it?

There's a common phrase that tends to get thrown out there whenever a commentator gets tired of people calling them out for being over-the-top biased: "Objectivity is a Myth".

I once ran into a commentator who claimed that a particular group was "homophobic" --- said group's membership being openly, and mostly, homosexual and bisexual. Nor had the group ever made any anti-gay statements. When I pointed this out to him, he retorted that there had been such things as gay Nazis, and therefore my statement was invalid.

He, too, claimed "Objectivity is a Myth" as an excuse for not just having a difference of opinion or viewpoint, but deliberately playing fast and loose with the truth "because there isn't any".

In the end, he sicced his lawyer on me with a cease-and-desist for pointing out the obvious: that if he wanted to equate this particular group's openly-gay membership with the existence of gays in the Nazi Party, then obviously he was saying the Nazis tolerated openly-gay members.

His lawyer ended up going back to him and telling him to retract his "homophobic" claim.

So yes, Virginia, there is indeed such a thing as "objectivity". The fact that you can't be perfect at it doesn't give you license to throw it out the window entirely.

SpiderJerusalem:
So, we're not going against you for not being objective, we're going against you for being a poor critic with such clear biases that it undermines even the rare few times that you actually might try and say something worthwhile.

Tsk, tsk, c'mon, be a little objective here. Bob has done quite a few reviews where he says plenty that's worthwhile. They are, almost every time, the ones where he doesn't try to shoehorn his political or social views in.

But you're entirely correct that when he does do that, it undermines credibility in his better work. Seriously, if I were to watch someone doing a review on "Superman", and they were to start making snarky quips about Obama's policy on African blood diamonds at the point where Superman crushes a piece of coal into a diamond? I'd be annoyed at best. Unfortunately, that kind of thing tends to crop up annoyingly often in Bob's snarkier reviews.

irishda:
Critics write what they know, clearly coloring what movies they like and dislike. Bob has accepted that, apparently believing we should find critics that share our tastes, that we might better discover which stuff we would and wouldn't like.

You know what though? I think that system's bullshit. You know what I'd like to see? How about a system where critics actively try to view products from different angles? How 'bout a system where we get reasons why people who are into that sort of genre/style/narrative might enjoy it?

Instead of:

Fast and Furious is a terrible movie. The story's bland and the characters are flat because the only thing the director gave a shit about was the cars and the explosions. Go see this only if you want to hurt your brain.

how about:

I don't like Fast and Furious, but the story isn't overly complicated and the character stories don't demand the focus too much to distract people from the action or the cars. Fans of the series will probably enjoy this one too, but people who don't care about loud cars won't find much to like.

Instead of:

Avengers is the greatest movie of the year, maybe of all time. There's nothing wrong with this movie. This is everything I'd hoped it'd be and more.

why not:

There's a lot to like about Avengers: cool heroes, awesome fights, Samuel L. Jackson on a plane (sort of). It's a saturday morning cartoon movie, which means there's some drawbacks too. The plot's ridiculously predictable, superpowers are pretty loosely defined, and the characters don't have a lot of dimension to them.

Perspective. Empathy. Try and understand what someone else might not like about, or what they would like about it.

I've always liked that idea. A multifaceted, cautious, and civil approach to...well, anything, really, not just media. Maybe we'd all get along better if we tried to see things from the other standpoints? >.> <.<

OT: Lovely thoughts, MovieBob. Y'know, one of the reasons I adore many of the New York Times' media critics has to do with that issue of subjectivity: lots of their reviews are written in a very non-formulaic way that documents more of their personal thoughts and observations about the piece than it describes the "objective" creative value. I mean, yeah, they praise or criticize it, but in the broader context of the review, which often has a sort of theme, a specific vein that they've chosen to write in. Each review is like its own little journal entry, almost. :) Someday I hope to write reviews like those.

So is Bob still trying to justify his occasional outbreaks of fanboy nerd-rage over certain films?

It might be easier to say "Yeah, I wasn't going to review the film fairly to begin with, and you knew that I wasn't, so if you want a reasonably objective analysis of the film's merits, see [insert critic here]'s review, and then stick around to watch me vent my spleen!"

DemBones:
If Bob wasn't a competent, well informed critic he wouldn't have his own show and column and we wouldn't be talking about him. That being said, there has always been one aspect of Bob's critiquing style that has bugged me. Bob tends to preframe his experience going into a movie too much.

Preframing is basically giving someone else (or yourself in this case) an opinion before having actually experienced the final product. Everyone does it to a certain extent (hype yourself up or try to let yourself down easy) but it will always affect the final judgment.

If someone is immersed in movies and trailers, as a reviewer would be, how are they supposed to avoid doing this? To see months of buildup without forming any opinion is kind of like not thinking about pink elephants, especially when thinking about movies is your job.

OT: This is not the first time that Bob has written an article in defense of his right to be a critic. I don't really see that it's necessary. Clearly his opinion is valued by the editors and readers of the Escapist, or else he wouldn't have a job here. Valuable opinions justify themselves.

Bro?

BRO????????

Are you joking? so this is how you see all the people that are against Anita? just a bunch of douches, lovers of CoD and Bayformers? Because logically, no real complains exist about that person, no sir, nor against that particular female writer on Bioware "Whose-Name-Must-Not-Be-Spoken"

Nop, they are ALL just douchebags that feel TERRIFIED of a women having power and opinions.

Our hero, ladies and gentlemen.

beefpelican:

DemBones:
If Bob wasn't a competent, well informed critic he wouldn't have his own show and column and we wouldn't be talking about him. That being said, there has always been one aspect of Bob's critiquing style that has bugged me. Bob tends to preframe his experience going into a movie too much.

Preframing is basically giving someone else (or yourself in this case) an opinion before having actually experienced the final product. Everyone does it to a certain extent (hype yourself up or try to let yourself down easy) but it will always affect the final judgment.

If someone is immersed in movies and trailers, as a reviewer would be, how are they supposed to avoid doing this? To see months of buildup without forming any opinion is kind of like not thinking about pink elephants, especially when thinking about movies is your job.

OT: This is not the first time that Bob has written an article in defense of his right to be a critic. I don't really see that it's necessary. Clearly his opinion is valued by the editors and readers of the Escapist, or else he wouldn't have a job here. Valuable opinions justify themselves.

The best way to avoid it is to be aware of it and try to avoid it. You shouldn't react negatively to a film because it didn't play out exactly as you pictured it based on your anticipation (within reason). It seemed to me that a lot of the criticisms for TDKR came from critics who had an itemized checklist of what to expect from the film, than reacted negatively when those items weren't checked off by the end. They can add items due to pre-release marketing (The way this costume looks probably won't work well) and then feel vindicated with the final product (This costume doesn't work with this lighting). You probably noticed the plethora of links to articles with the title "Top 5/10/15/20 things about The Dark Knight Rises that did/didn't work". Those type of lists all read like critics complaining that the film wasn't perfect (i.e. the film they pictured in their head before seeing it) so it must be disappointing. No form of criticism can be succinctly summarized as a list.

Realizing that you already formed a small opinion requires a self-awareness that not everyone has. Bob seems like a reasonably self-aware guy, since his tendency to explain his decisions (even if I disagree with some of them) in further detail show that his head isn't completely up his ass. Many people still respect his opinion (I still do, despite disagreeing with him), and he's earned that respect. I was just providing constructive criticism of his recent reviews, so that he doesn't become like Harry Knowles. Now we can see how self-aware he really is.

Anybody who tries to use "objectivity" in their argument is really just trying to weasel out an excuse to justify saying what THEY like is good.

DemBones:

beefpelican:

DemBones:
If Bob wasn't a competent, well informed critic he wouldn't have his own show and column and we wouldn't be talking about him. That being said, there has always been one aspect of Bob's critiquing style that has bugged me. Bob tends to preframe his experience going into a movie too much.

Preframing is basically giving someone else (or yourself in this case) an opinion before having actually experienced the final product. Everyone does it to a certain extent (hype yourself up or try to let yourself down easy) but it will always affect the final judgment.

If someone is immersed in movies and trailers, as a reviewer would be, how are they supposed to avoid doing this? To see months of buildup without forming any opinion is kind of like not thinking about pink elephants, especially when thinking about movies is your job.

OT: This is not the first time that Bob has written an article in defense of his right to be a critic. I don't really see that it's necessary. Clearly his opinion is valued by the editors and readers of the Escapist, or else he wouldn't have a job here. Valuable opinions justify themselves.

The best way to avoid it is to be aware of it and try to avoid it. You shouldn't react negatively to a film because it didn't play out exactly as you pictured it based on your anticipation (within reason). It seemed to me that a lot of the criticisms for TDKR came from critics who had an itemized checklist of what to expect from the film, than reacted negatively when those items weren't checked off by the end. They can add items due to pre-release marketing (The way this costume looks probably won't work well) and then feel vindicated with the final product (This costume doesn't work with this lighting). You probably noticed the plethora of links to articles with the title "Top 5/10/15/20 things about The Dark Knight Rises that did/didn't work". Those type of lists all read like critics complaining that the film wasn't perfect (i.e. the film they pictured in their head before seeing it) so it must be disappointing. No form of criticism can be succinctly summarized as a list.

Realizing that you already formed a small opinion requires a self-awareness that not everyone has. Bob seems like a reasonably self-aware guy, since his tendency to explain his decisions (even if I disagree with some of them) in further detail show that his head isn't completely up his ass. Many people still respect his opinion (I still do, despite disagreeing with him), and he's earned that respect. I was just providing constructive criticism of his recent reviews, so that he doesn't become like Harry Knowles. Now we can see how self-aware he really is.

Okay, yeah, I can see that. Nobody can go into a film completely uninfluenced, and it would be silly to try. But awareness of that influence improves how well thought out and justified an opinion is. I don't really think Bob is especially guilty of unjustified bias, but I understand that it's something a reviewer would have to be careful about.

 Pages PREV 1 2

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Register for a free account here