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rockfan's avatar

Do you think all of film criticism is subjective? Are there any aspects of film that are objective?

Asked by rockfan (12724points) 2 weeks ago from iPhone

I was having a heated debate with a movie critic on YouTube and she claimed that she is 100% correct that The Exorcist doesn’t hold up to “modern filmmaking standards”. I asked what those standards were, and she mentioned that the acting was horrible, the special effects were terrible, the pacing was poor, and some scenes in the beginning of the film were pointless.

I think her perspective is completely ridiculous, because I think her viewpoint is subjective opinion. She then proceeded to tell me that I was willfully avoiding the issue, and that I wasn’t separating my enjoyment of the film and the technical aspects of the film. Personally I think that’s also ridiculous because my enjoyment from the film stems directly from the technical aspects of filmmaking. She then proceeded to brag about her Bachelors degree in film.

What do you think? Is there are any ounce of truth in what she’s saying? Personally I think her entire perspective is ludicrous.

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17 Answers

elbanditoroso's avatar

It’s easy for a critic to put down a film that was made 48 years ago. Technology and film making was totally different back then. It’s rather snobbish and unrealistic of her to compare that green puke of 1973 to the CGI that is done today.

I don’t know what critic you’re talking about, but she seems to be showing arrogance rather tha appreciation for film

AK's avatar

You can’t be objective with films. The basis of objective analysis is logic and the moment we start applying logic to movies, we’re done. 99% of movies require us to suspend disbelief before watching them. The other one percent of realistic films…..are, let’s be honest, boring as hell. So, objectivity is never the way to go about while critiquing films.

mazingerz88's avatar

The excellent, the intelligent and most cinematic aspects of The Exorcist were its slowly paced build-up, the acting and sound. As a work of cinema it’s brilliant. I think that “critic” is possessed with idiocy.

elbanditoroso's avatar

@mazingerz88 and a good friend of mine was an extra in the Exorcist – he was paid $300 (which was a lot of money in 1972 for a college student) and was on screen for two seconds.

mazingerz88's avatar

^^Point me to her. I’m about to revisit the film soon. I happen to live not too far away from those iconic steps too.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Him. On the steps coming down from the library to the street. About 20 minutes into the movie. (long set of steps with several landings). Sort of a nerdy guy with a square face, light hair, and glasses. His name was Con (short for Cornelius).

Sadly he died a couple years ago.

mazingerz88's avatar

^^Sorry didn’t have my glasses. He should be easy to spot with the glasses. Sorry to hear he passed.

hello321's avatar

Of course it’s completely subjective. A movie is “good” if you like it. It’s “bad” if you don’t.

All art is this way.

Zaku's avatar

That position about The Exorcist is ridiculous. It’s what happens when someone is used to one style of media, and can’t shift to appreciate media in another style. Like people who aren’t used to a genre of music or literature, and just think all genres dissimilar to what they are conditioned to, are bad.

It’s very common for currently younger people to not have the attention span to appreciate movies from 30+ years ago which had slower pacing and expected attention to detail, used actors more reflective of the general (older, less thin, less beautiful) population, and yes, did have less special effects technology, and sometimes were not very tightly directed or acted, and often required different types of suspension of disbelief than current films tend to.

I tend to have the reverse issue. I’ve seen and enjoyed many older films (including some of the earliest films), and I’ve very intolerant of newer films’ fast pacing, shuffling or narrative order, and what seem to me like intolerable levels of stupid writing, illogic, unbelievable characters and situations, and general lack of depth, quality and originality. (And also how so many actors are all ridiculously groomed and have million-dollar homes and wardrobes…)

As for the general question of whether “all of film criticism is subjective? Are there any aspects of film that are objective?”, I would say NOT all are subjective. What’s subjective is what one likes or finds interesting. But there are objective observations too.

There seems to be a really disturbing number of people who don’t get that distinction, and will argue with/about other people based on that. The version I’ve been appalled by most (which is different from your case) are the people who think that illogical lazy writing and plots that don’t make sense, can’t/shouldn’t be criticized for that, because they’re stuck on thinking that all criticism is subjective opinion, or that any fiction with any fantastic element doesn’t have any reason to have any of the rest of it make sense or even be self-consistent.

Whether you like the Disney Star Wars sequels or not is perhaps a matter of taste and opinion. Whether they make sense or not, or are consistent with the previous Star Wars films, seems to me objectively a case of no, they don’t/aren’t. Whether you find that as awful as I do is subjective. But they are extremely illogical, and I’d say it’s objectively true that the people who paid attention to details and continuity in the original Star Wars films were taking things much more seriously, where the sequels don’t really even try to care much at all about continuity or making sense. The people who like those films don’t care, don’t get it, don’t think about it, don’t really know or appreciate the original films, and/or short-circuit to arguing that all opinions about films are subjective, or that all fantasy doesn’t have any reason to make sense about anything.

Ltryptophan's avatar

It’s totally subjective. I think the use of a film critique is simply to alert us when something unusually good to a lot of people shows up. Or, to alert us that many people did not like something.

More like billboards than official highway signs. Know what I mean?

mazingerz88's avatar

@Zaku Excellent post. Thanks.

rockfan's avatar


I actually have to push back on your answer a bit. My criticism of this movie critic is not that she hates Exorcist, it’s that she thinks her opinion is objective. If she hated The Exorcist but admitted that it was her own subjective opinion, then I would have no problem with that viewpoint.

filmfann's avatar

Since I have not read what she said, I won’t say whether she is right or wrong.
Certainly we all have different tastes, and one critic will hate a film another loves. I would often enjoy a film panned by a specific critic, and hate the ones he recommended.
I think the best film ever made is Cirizen Kane, but I enjoy watching Casablanca more.
The term Modern Filmmaking Standards made me laugh. The way a movie is filmed and edited is how the story is told. Any argument about Standards breaks down when you see Blair Witch Project or Cloverfield. That said, the use of jittercams drives me nuts.

mazingerz88's avatar

@rockfan Now I’m interested in knowing the critic’s objective analysis of the film.

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