The Skeptical Critic

As my family and close friends will attest, I get bored a lot. It doesn’t, however, take much to remove said boredom. I’m pretty easily entertained. For example, I was bored 3 minutes ago. Now I’m not. I was bored the other day, then I went outside and sat on the porch and was bored no more.

I’m far from an avid moviegoer. The number of times I’ve heard “what? you haven’t seen ___?! how have you lived?” numbers in the hundreds. I can probably name all of the movies that I have not liked… Mission to Mars, The Brothers Grimm, some movie that was so terrible I blocked the name from my memory, High School Musical and… okay no I can’t name them all, but it’s not that many.

Okay I must confess: I’ve never actually seen High School Musical. I know I would detest it though. I heard part of it from another room and that was enough. I am not a fan of musicals. Except Newsies. Newsies is cool.

Other people do like musicals though. And that’s ok, so long as I’m not roped to a chair in front of the screen with my eyelids taped open.

Doubters do not achieve; skeptics do not contribute; cynics do not create. - Calvin Coolidge, speech, Jul. 25, 1924

From time to time a movie will come out that I am really excited about. So I go see it. And it’s amazing. And then because I’m all excited about it I read reviews to see what other people thought (if I happen to come across them in my daily browsing). And they didn’t like it. What? And I look at the box office results, and it’s going crazy. Apparently people like it, so why are most of the reviews negative? I don’t get it. Have professional movie critics seen too many movies? Is there something in a movie critics’ job description that states they must be negative? What’s more interesting is that if the movie does get super popular the reviews seem to change from negative to positive (Napoleon Dynamite anyone?). Maybe I’m wrong? I don’t actually have any data to prove this; it’s just my perception. Also, I’m not sure if that’s a correct use of a semi-colon.

Any guesses about where this all came from? If you read my last post you’ll have a pretty good chance of getting it right. Prince Caspian was really good. The 18 people I saw it with liked it too, but the reviews I’ve read have been rather negative. Why? Well obviously they didn’t like it. No big deal. Some people are bound to have differing opinions, and who am I to say they’re not just as valid, or more so, than mine?

I guess my issue here comes from the word critic in “movie critic.” I am often guilty of being critical, skeptical, and doubting. Perhaps I am just being critical here, I won’t argue with you on that one. I don’t expect every movie or book review to be glowing with praise, that’s just silly. We read reviews because we value other’s opinions. I read a few reviews this week about an episode of a TV show I saw (Doctor Who). I didn’t think the episode was super amazing, but I did enjoy it. As I read the reviews (all negative) I found myself liking the episode less and less. I started thinking of more reasons why the episode was rubbish. An enjoyable experience (watching the episode) quickly became a painful experience.

What on earth. Did you catch that? A decently positive experience was turned into a negative one by something that happened after it. History was changed. The present moment changed the past.

More on this in an upcoming post with a few C.S. Lewis quotes from Out of the Silent Planet, which I recently finished.

Edited to add: apparently I read all the wrong reviews. Prince Caspian is getting good reviews. So like I said was possible: I’m wrong. Nothing new there. Still though, it’s not the first time this has seemed to happen. Also, my main point of this post was about cynicism and what it does, but the post got long and I never reached the conclusion. So I split in two.

Movies, Quotes, CS Lewis