Your Opinion is Wrong! Revelations on the opinion column.
Hi there! My name is Owen Connolly, but my online alias goes by ‘Zanzibar’. I’m one of the new writers for Kitsuga, and this is an article which, while it may appear a little strange for the site, should introduce you to myself and my writing style somewhat. It’s a little long, but it’s hard to write about this topic in such a small amount of words. I really hope you enjoy it and look forward to writing much more for the site in the near future! <3
Your Opinion is Wrong. No, really.
About a week ago now, I fell in love with a film. One Sunday afternoon, I was bored. And I was bored because Sunday’s are shit. So the obvious answer is to throw something on on Netflix, read twitter, and wait for the lethargy to pass. However, the film I selected was Kingsman: The Secret Service, and I can safely say that this isn’t just one of the best action movies I’ve ever seen, but a film that genuinely felt like it was made for me in terms of it’s action, it’s style, and so on.
But, what I just said about Kingsman is first and foremost, an opinion. To have to be overly simple for a second, an opinion is defined as: ‘a view or judgement formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge’. I loved this movie, many didn’t, and that’s great. Preferences, niche’s, and fandoms are the lifeblood of many media cultures these days, and people disagreeing with what you love, as irritating as it can be, is ultimately healthy. However, gone are the days of just blindly arguing over what game/movie/book does suck or doesn’t suck and being genuine nerds about it, now we need to say ‘everyone’s entitled to their opinion lads, calm down’. So here’s my thesis of sorts:
“Everyone is entitled to an opinion. But you aren’t entitled to be right.”
Now, at first glance that can seem to be a pretty egotistical statement, and it doesn’t even align with what I just said, about how preference is very real and people are different. However, there is a growing trend which made me think about this a lot, and it’s trend that has most recently pissed me right off after reading audience/critical reaction to Kingsman.
1. ‘Phrasing’ (Archer – 2009)
You may not realise it every time you make a throwaway tweet, Youtube comment, or text, but there’s a very important distinction between two kinds of comment you see about media online:
‘What did you think of that?’ > ‘I really didn’t like it..’
‘What did you think of that?’ > ‘That was absolutely awful’
Now the wording may change, but the distinction is the same. The first opinion dictates that the person who did not enjoy the film in question is internalising their opinion onto themselves, saying how ‘I didn’t like it’. This could be for a number of reasons, for example if you went into Kingsman expecting a romantic comedy and couldn’t appreciate the joy of Colin Firth killing 58 hate spouters to the tune of Free Bird, then that’s pretty unfortunate on your part, but the feeling is pretty well founded.
This could be expected from anyone, who expected something that they just never got out of a movie or game, even if the thing in question is considered well executed by most. A good example is Tomb Raider 2013 which I despised for personal reasons, but many people said it was an enjoyable third person shooter (god writing that makes me shudder just let me jump around and raid tombs for fuck-), so that’s a good example of internalised opinion and you reflecting that in a way which is inoffensive to everyone involved.
However, then we have the second statement: ‘That was absolutely awful’. This person hasn’t simply internalised their thoughts about something, and has stated like some mad prophet that it ‘IS’ shit. Not that they found it shit, but that it ‘IS’ shit. But, I think everyone has done this. More than a few times actually. It’s just a simple matter of phrasing you don’t think about, but in a world where developers/actors/directors etc are closer to their audiences than ever before, what with opinions and gossip being fed all over social media like a live wire.
A true artist should be able to listen to why people don’t like their work, and should be prepared to hear criticism. What they shouldn’t be prepared to hear, is people telling them that their work simply ‘sucks’ without any ‘internalisation context’ such as ‘I thought’, ‘IMO’, ‘Not for me’, and such. The mind of an artist can be fickle, and when your art is your life, no matter how many great things you hear about your work, one person saying that your work ‘IS shit’, can knock you through a loop, or demotivate you somewhat. It’s just throwaway phrasing, but it makes a big difference! Even Tim Minchin, a comedian I admire greatly has done pieces about how this one little review of him in one paper had an absolutely vitriolic assessment of his work, and it affected him for a long time, and I can guarantee that reviewer used phrasing such as ‘the show WAS poor’.
Phrasing is an important part of opinion writing, and I’d encourage everyone, both casual observer or full on critic, to be careful about how you use it. But you might be thinking, ‘oh, is this simply an assessment on people being dicks with how they PRESENT their opinions but in reality everyone’s opinion is equally valid? Oh, I get it now, it’s a wanky Buzzfeed article.’ Nope. Let me tell you why your personal assessment of a film can be incorrect.
2. ‘I think he got the point’ – (Thunderball, 1965)
As I mentioned before, it’s possible to enter a movie and miss what it’s trying to do. Let me use two specific, recent movies that I feel demonstrate this point perfectly, with audiences having this weird void where half walk out with massive grins on their faces and the other half walk out saying ‘what a load of wank’. These two movies are Mad Max: Fury Road, and Pacific Rim. Both of these films set out to be one thing and one thing only, fun. The overall cheesiness and silliness almost to the level of Power Rangers in Pacific Rim is intended, to make you feel like you’re 12 again. The absurd action and choreography of Mad Max’s action scenes are pure insanity and a joy to behold, but the sweeping bleak shots of the desert along with the visceral war drum soundtrack evoke this feeling of doom and raw petrol fueled madness.
The link between these two movies is that they first and foremost have fun and seek to entertain the audience, but also create deeper emotional resonances with the audience in interesting ways. I literally went ‘EEEEEEEEEE’ when they pressed ‘The Sword’ button in Pacific Rim, I was almost in tears of joy during Mad Max’s glorious final act simply out of giddiness, and the Church scene in Kingsman? Well, I couldn’t stop shaking after it.
What’s relevant here is something that I think is very important. I feel like a lot of audience goers, that have a decent interest in film of course, can quickly write off a movie if it’s lacking what they believe is necessary for the full package. Coherent, deep story, well written characters, great dialogue, great original soundtrack, interesting premise, great realistic performances, and ultimately a movie that is well rounded. Now don’t get me wrong, that’s in no way the wrong thing to ask for! Many of the greatest movies of all time could probably tick those boxes 10 times over. The problem here, is that a film lacking such things are seen by certain viewers as just that, things that are intrinsically lacking from the movie and thus their opinion of it is lessened. I have friends who said they didn’t like Mad Max because it had ‘little to no plot’, or that the characters ‘barely spoke’, as if the absence of this is by definition a ‘bad’ thing. Similarly, I saw many people saying that Pacific Rim was ‘bad’ due to the acting being ‘far too cheesy’ or certain things in the movie making ‘no sense’. I can separate those kinds of people and those who I personally admire as an audience member as such:
3. ‘’If it genuinely bothers you why Power Rangers don’t just go full Megazord from the beginning, you have MISSED THE POINT” (Me, Thursday)
And that’s what this is about, the point. And the point is why, to me, an opinion can be wrong. If for example you write a review about Pacific Rim, and trust me go look for these reviews yourself because they’re hilarious, which says for a simple example ‘This movie was highly unrealistic, filled with cheesy acting and action scenes that made no logical sense’. I define that sentence, as an incorrect opinion. The point has been missed from that reviewers head, it’s in some unspeakable part of spacetime where cthulhu chills out, that’s how far it’s been missed. These people, aren’t judging a piece of media based solely on what ‘it IS’, but judging it based on what ‘it ISN’T’. If, for example, that same reviewer was aware of the movie’s attempt to be tongue cheek. If they were aware that the film was attempting to evoke a long tradition of old Asian ‘Kaiju’ movies while nodding to many anime’s from where the movie drew its inspirations and references. If they were aware that the movie is trying to evoke the fun Saturday morning show of something like Power Rangers to an all new generation of audiences, and they said they hated it? Then they have every right to do so.
But, when I get some tit, who has absolutely no idea of the POINT of the media, which in some cases can be a grey area yes, and not only forms their opinions based on something they don’t understand, but could take it a step further to say that a movie ‘Just sucks’ while having this ignorance surrounding it, then nothing could be more infuriating to me. These movies that I’ve mentioned, deserve love. And if they don’t get love, they deserve respect for existing as movies, and delighting audiences everywhere. So it’s not some people’s thing? Fine, go have a kit kat, go watch the Emoji Movie and cry yourself to sleep. But I will not tolerate the geeks, critics, and general audiences of the film world, spreading negativity about simply because they don’t have the capacity to understand what the movie/game/book was trying to do in the first place.
Love or hate something for what it is, not what you want it to be.
Oh and btw, I’m a Catholic whore, currently enjoying congress out of wedlock with my black Jewish boyfriend who works at a military abortion clinic. So, hail Satan, and have a lovely afternoon.