People could die!

Do I have your attention? Good. You dinosaurs will need the whole walnut today. Listen carefully.

I am tired and sick of reading reviews of movies written by amateurs, mostly on the internet, who think it makes them look counterrevolutionary to put down real movie critics simply because they are critics and to say things like,

"Fuck off, serious film lovers."

This does not make your review more real to the little people. There are two things to offer in support of a movie review that make it stronger:

  1. Evidence
  2. That is the only thing that makes it stronger

That's it. Saying that rational thought and critical thinking are not important to you does not make your movie review somehow better, as ridiculous as that might sound to you. I know it is hard, but opinions are not opinions because you come to them randomly. Just because something happens to be on the movie screen in front of you doesn't mean you have to agree with it, like it, enjoy it, or appreciate it. You're certainly free to do so, but not when it doesn't make sense to me.

What am I talking about?

What I am talking about can best be understood by examining the statistical mechanics of movie quality. On the scale of worst to best, the class of movies that you see in theaters should fall into some approximation of a Gaussian distribution. Taking the set of all movies you've seen this year, there exists an element of that set, possible entitled Jeepers Creepers 2, that has the lowest comparable quality. If you cannot assume that the quality of movies can be compared, you shouldn't write a review. That's what a review is -- a comparison of the quality of various elements of a movie in such a way that the reader, possibly with other relative weights on various categories, can come to their own conclusion about the potential relative quality of said movie.

So out of the last dozen movies you've seen in the theater, stretching back quite a ways, you should be able to construct a Movie Quality Index, or MQI, in your head. Here is how it might look:


worst movie                                                                     best movie

There is an average, decent, normal quality of movie that you've seen the most of. There is some point in the center that is better than half and worse than half. There are movies at each extreme. Notice that I am not trying to legislate which movies are good and which are bad -- this is left to you. Naturally. That is the great thing about opinions.

This kind of movie index is a problem, but it is common among amateur movie reviewers:

some movie it's cool to hate          next worst movie                          best movie
The second worst movie you see can't be average. Look, you knew it was bad. Everyone's lines made no sense. You didn't know what was going on. That chick in the leather pants wasn't even that hot. You didn't really care. But whoop-de-do, through the magic of apathy and some kind of wacky affirmative action movie action, and because there were a few explosions, you can load up your favorite web browser, point it at a web community, preferably one that does not involve voting so you're free to say idiotic things, and post a review where you say "It was fine, movies are entertainment, I just turned my brain off."

Turn it back on, please. Flip the fucking switch.

First of all, that wasn't even correct grammar. You should have used semicolons, or better yet, rewritten the sentence so that it is less crazy. Second of all, it can't be "okay" if it was the second worst movie you've seen in a long time, and only because it was trendy to hate the worst one. That makes as much sense as a screen door on a battleship.

I realize that there are other idiotic ways to relate to movies, such as thinking all movies are either amazingly great or horribly terrible, or thinking a movie is better because it is foreign, or thinking that it is better to base a movie-viewing decision on a marketing campaign (agenda: make money) rather than a good, friendly, familiar independent critic (agenda: make movies better). I realize those are problems, but I hereby resolve not to bitch about those topics until far in the future when Everything666 has reduced the universe to dust in a cataclysmic inferno of carnal knowledge.

So lets get back to the point. If a movie could have been better, it's okay to say so. If it could have been worse, that's great too. But like black Division I college football coaches, if all of your movie reviews claim that reason and accountability are unnecessary for movies, you need to rethink your hiring practices.

Lets take some straw men from the audience, shall we?

Q: Don't you realize that I go to the theater for escape, and don't want clever words, annoying relationships, and complicated plot?

A: Yes, but don't you want your escapism to be quality? Some movies get you on the edge of your seat, and some don't. Some movies surprise and shock you, and some don't. Distinguish between them, see and recommend the best, and suddenly you will be happier and will have everlasting erections.

Q: You are an elitist discriminating asshole. Stupid movie reviews don't kill people. Calm down.

A: *ahem* Please phrase your questions in the form of questions.

Q: You are an elitist discriminating asshole, aren't you?

A: Perhaps. But it is for your own good. Look, we all want to get the most for our money, don't we? When "just barely okay" is acceptable for our multi-billion dollar industries, where will it stop? Suddenly it will be peachy keen to justify going to war because of bullshit because we can just collectively turn our brains off and watch the explosions on television. Oh wait, that already happened, and bad movie reviews are the cause.

Remember: movie reviews are a matter of life and death.

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