Beauty In The Subjectivity Of Film

We love being fans. It doesn’t matter if it’s fans of a movie (Star Wars shall rule forever), fans of a sports team (Maple Leafs shall rule forever), fans of software (all hail Linux), fans of a music group (U2 shall also rule forever), fans of comics (Age of Apocalypse baby!), fans of a video game (StarCraft and Unreal Tournament are still my favorites of all time) or fans of a website (Three cheers for The Movie Blog!!! Anyone? Anyone?).

The interesting thing is that in all of the examples above, there is an element of debatability (yeah I know I made that word up). There is no real objective measuring stick to say yes, this one is BETTER than that one. It’s not like a who is tallest competition in which all you have to do is pull out a measuring stick and there is a clear winner where the results can’t be debated. 1 Million is more than 1 dollar. 10 feet is more than 3. 100 degrees is hotter than 30 degrees. These things can beobjectively measured and settled. Not so with film.

My motto on The Movie Blog has always been “The most beautiful thing about film is the pure subjectivity of it“. And that’s true. The value or quality of a film can’t be measured or weighed or counted to any sort of objective conclusion. It’s a subjective medium that touches us all in different ways. And therein lies it’s real magic.

Movies transcend the limits of height or weight or measurement. They can’t be chopped up and quantified. The TRUTH and VALUE of a film totally lies within the impact and impression it leaves on me… as an individual. This impact and impression willbe different for everyone the film comes across. And for me personally, no movies in history have had the impact or left the impression on me that can equal the original Star Wars trilogy. That statement can not be argued or debated or disagreed with. It is… the truth.

However, if you tell me that Star Wars did not make that impression or have that sort of impact on YOU… then I can’t debate it. Only you know the true truth of that statement. And there it is… the beauty of film. It’s pure subjectivity!

What fun would film be if it’s quality could be measured and quantified? There could be no discussion. There could be no debate. There could be no insight. 50ft. is taller than 40ft. There is no room for dialog or discussion on that. No opportunity to gain some insight from another person with a different point of view or way of looking at things. There is… no beauty.

It’s this subjectivity that makes things like a Top 10 Best… Anything list fun. If it was a Top 10 most expensive movies list… then there can’t be any discussion. It’s measured. It’s calculated. It’s objective. However, a Top 10 Best Animated Films of All Time list is subjective! That can be discussed and talked about and debated. People can offer different points of view and share different ideas and options. We can disagree and exchange ideas and thoughts and experiences. You just can’t dothat with a measuring stick.

It’s this subjectivity that makes me laugh when I see some people on this site and others write things like If you think that’s the best you’re stupid. If you like that you’re an idiot. People who say things like that only prove they’re too dim witted to understand that film is subjective. People won’t feel the same way they do… and having a positive or negative feeling or impression about a film is neither right or wrong… it’s subjective.

Say you disagree… say why you disagree… talk about your points of view and why a film struck you (good or bad) the way it did. Debate, discuss and disagree. That’s part of the beauty of subjectivity.

If I think a film is Great, then I am neither right nor wrong. Maybe many will agree with me… maybe none will… but that won’t change how a film impacted, entertained or made an impression on me. Or you. And therein my dear friends lies the true beauty of the movies.



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27 thoughts on “Beauty In The Subjectivity Of Film

  1. Awwwwwwww… {{{Crackerjack}}} Hugs to you sir. ;-) And welcome to the TMB, I am glad you are making it a regular habit to be here.

    Sorry for getting all mushy on ya, but I cant help it, I am a woman! (at least the last time I checked!) LOL

  2. It brightens my day to see intelligent bloggers such as Simone and Peter and many of the others here. I say thank you for the ray of light.

  3. I like it very much when John posts things like this that make you go, “what is the meaning of life?” kind of thing, you know like being retrospective?

    I wholeheartedly agree on this, and again I cannot reiterate enough that this is one of the reasons why this site is so successful, because its allowing each individual and unique poster to be themselves, defining our own tastes on films thereby learning to appreciate the art of cinema. Since joining TMB it has opened my eyes to many genres of film and thanks to our hardworking guys here who share with us daily a variety of movie news. Take a bow all of you.

    Seriously John, with this piece of writing, (not to include every single time you wax poetic about Star Wars) which I could say can be categorised as TMB’s movie editorial for the day, will you please finish that book of yours already and let us buy the damn thing! LOL


    Solid TMBlogger,

    Simone xxx

    FAO Peter: I also know a Peter who disliked “The Village” (who like John here and myself, LOVED Star Wars) and used to be a regular TMBlogger, hey Peter, is that you??? *smiles*

  4. What a dumb way to ruin an intelligent post: I´ll ignore the wanna-bees, and give my five cents on the topic:

    I don√Ǭ¥t think there√Ǭ¥s not so much subjectivity in cinema, if we consider it an art. Of course there is always a degree of subjectivity, in the way that you can√Ǭ¥t argue with who loves a movie telling pretentiously that the movie is “bad”.

    But time puts things in place. I remember when Blade Runner was released, so many people saying it was a bad movie. Well, now everyone says (deservedly), it´s a classic.

    Anyway, the beautifulness of cinema is that it tells things to every person. I dislike deeply The Village, but for many other people, seems, it´s a masterpiece. Could be. And part of the joy of cinema is discussing your tastes with anyone´s elses.

  5. hahahaha, relax brian.

    relax and apologize.

    unless john gets offended at my ridiculous list about him, i stand by my ridiculous list.

  6. Making jokes about movies, not personal attacks. I’m not laughing miles. You’re the only one who likes that joke. Apologize? What for?

  7. Great post John, although somewhat ironic when you have people posting on the movieblog (not just commenters) who seem to flat out state something is the best.

    There tend to be three groups of opinion, in my opinion ;-)

    1. Critical – Those who are supposed to know what they’re talking about, in that they’re educated in the field and/or well versed, or at the very least in a prominent position to talk about it. Pros: Educated people ought to know something good from bad. Cons: Often they don’t, and become jaded with or lost in the area. Personal opinion is more important than critical.

    2. General – In terms of the populace, the overall opinion on a particular topic, whether it be the latest Top 20 poll as voted for by the readers of Super Movie magazine, or a voted rating at IMDB. Pros: Getting general opinion can help give some feel as to whether the particular item has been well received. Cons: Similar to critical opinion, that of the massive may not be that of the individual. Also can be influential in governing personal opinion, which is a problem.

    3. Personal – Arguably the most important, and often the least considered. Simply the opinion of the individual when they encounter an item. Pros: As mentioned, what can be important than the individual view? Cons: Hard to see any, other than personal opinion isn’t of much use to anyone else.

    All are interesting, but I always maintain that personal is the *most* interesting.

  8. Miles you may be the strangest person to ever leave a post here. I think you are either oddly humorous and we are not getting the joke or maybe you had a motorcycle accident when you were younger without a helmet. Take a picture swinging a sword without a shirt on? Am I out of the loop on this because I live in Southwest U.S.A.?

  9. everyone know when posing for a picture while swinging a sword, you take off your shirt.

    it is not gay, it is science.

    That being said, you are probably the guy i saw John kissing.

  10. This is hilarious. You guys have gotten to the point where you are arguing about arguing! Listen, John, you know the purpose of this site is to provide a place where people can speak out about movies. Of course it’s subjective! Every one is different. That is why this site rocks! I can speak freely about why Spiderman 2 sucks. Now, if you can excuse me, i must visit the Top 10 Animated Movies blog…

  11. You think your better then me with your big college words. Like “debatability” and “the”.

    We’ll see who is subjective when my cool new site, opens up!

    now, for my top ten list.


    10. i saw you kissing a guy.

    9. he was not even good looking.

    8. there were tottally crumbs in his neckbeard.

    7. i’m miles friggin’ kinnee for god’s sake, i have never been wrong about anything in my entire life.

    6. your mother is not a slim woman.

    5. you smell terrible.

    4. you should get rid of that lame picture and use one of yourself shirtless, swinging a sword.

    3. Check out how big my muscles are. Jealous much?

    2. incredibles was a stupid movie.

    1. Is that your face, or did your neck just throw up?

    Now THAT’S a list!

  12. I’m going to disagree slightly with a finer point of John’s argument. I find it ironic that while a “top 10 list” is inherently a subjective listing, it’s also an attempt to quantify as best as possible. Lumping a few movies into a list of what one considers “top” is at its heart an objective endeavor.

    For instance, the top 10 Fortune 500 companies last year were… You see my point. An enumerated list of any kind is really an objective list, based on some quantifiable, measurable unit. So to apply the list to movies is very self-contradictory.

    Hence, Ebert hates compiling his list every year. I don’t blame him.

  13. In the spirit of “debatability”, I will argue against John’s claim that any truly objective competitions exist. As an example, while your statement that 10 feet is more than 3 is technically true, it does not define a winner of a competition. What was the compeition? Perhaps a vertical jump contest between 2 individuals: one jumped 3 feet high here on Earth and one jumped 10 feet high on the moon. Who’s the winner? Many will argue that the two cannot be compared. Is 1 million dollars more than one dollar when the contest was stock investing returns and one guy started with $999,999 in seed money and the other started with a penny? I think pretty much any competition is open for *some* type of debate due to the fact that no two separate events can occur in the exact same space at the exact same time.

    Juse some non-movie related metaphysical thoughts that John’s entry stirred in me.

    BTW- Hip, hip, horray for the movie blog!

  14. Define like Wormwood because though I know they are not good movies I will admit that when there is nothing better to watch on tv as in a couple of nights ago I will watch Fast and the Furious just to kill time. I would never say they are good movies but I still watch them from time to time, am I stupid?

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