Perfect Forever Dept.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2013-04-09 14:00:00 No comments

[This post was originally written as a comment in another forum. It appears here with some rewriting and expansion.]

I think one of the reasons we want to think what makes a movie (or book, or anything) good or bad is universal -- something unchanging and fixed, apart from any one of us -- is because it would be enormously convenient to do so.

If that were true, then we would not need to debate anything ever; we would just need to figure out what those universals are and then we could all quit arguing.

There's three problems with this, though.

One, we can't agree what those universals are, so we argue -- and why we can't agree is because we're different people, and we bring with each of us the baggage of a life which cannot be shrugged off just like that.

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Two, no movie exists in a vacuum. It's a product of its time and its circumstances, and also its audience. The Blade Runner of 1982 is not the Blade Runner of 2013, not just because Ridley Scott recut it but because we are a different audience overall (for one, we have a history of the film existing, which also changes everything).

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Third, people have the tastes first and the justifications second. Meaning if they like something, they tend to like it on a gut level first and then come up with reasons afterwards for why they liked it -- usually by whichever prejudices of theirs it confirms. If they dislike something, they will find a reason to push it away, even if that requires more work on their part than should be required. No one will ever be able to argue me out of my love for Hard-Boiled, because I was never argued into it to begin with.

Likewise, it's unlikely I could be argued into liking Game of Thrones for the same reasons. My fundamental, gut-level distaste for Thrones outstrips everything else about it. I tried to read the first book in the series a few years back, barely made it to the end, and had absolutely no desire to go back to that well for seconds, thirds, fourths, fifths, sixths, or sevenths.

Now, here's the thing: there's nothing wrong with all this. Tastes, opinions, and prejudices are where all of us begin, without exception. If we had no opinions about anything, life would get boring very fast, and it would be very difficult to understand how anything could be different.

The freedom to embody how things are different -- to have an opinion that someone else thinks is misinformed or foolish -- is also the freedom to discover an insight into something you never realize existed before. The door either swings both ways, or it doesn't swing at all.

It is a great thing to admire the work talented people put into movies to make them good. I like when people want to find the good things that are out there and not drown in the junk. I get fed up myself at how brainless things can be.

But there is just as much to be learned about why someone loves something you can't stand (or hates something you love), or why someone's inexplicable love for something might be totally sincere, as there is in simply seeking the comfort of a like mind.

Tags: Blade Runner Game of Thrones Hard-Boiled aesthetics books movies