The Beauty Of 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 be objectively 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 do that 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 they don’t 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.

Cheers!

~John

(This post was originally written back in 2005. I came across it today and just felt like reposting it)

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