Subjectivity: Its Beauty and Importance to Film Debate

Subjectivity: Its Beauty and Importance to Film Debate

Ask any film fan what is their favorite part of film culture, and you’ll probably hear one consistent answer: discussing the movie.

It’s in our nature: We see something good; we want to share it. If we see something bad; we try to warn others. That is basic psychology and why fans feel free to get up in arms about any movie.

siskel and ebert
Source: Buena Vista Television/Disney-ABC

People will go in with their own, unique experiences, wants, and biases, which leaves everyone with a variety of differing opinions.

Take Siskel and Ebert (pictured here), the masters of film debate and living examples of what it meant to share or warn others. 

Some may enjoy it, some may not. Some may think it was well-made, some may think it was a dumpster-fire. Either way, any movie is worth a good discussion because they involve our emotions. 

There is way too much controversy over whether film is actually subjective or not, as some people actually think that film can be objectively good and bad.

The question we should really ask is do their–or any other movie fan’s–arguments hold merit or are they nothing more than an impossibility to realize with common discourse?

Why Film is Subjective

Source: Disney/Lucasfilm LTD.

It all goes back to a simple lesson we all learned in English class: Everybody is right, if they can provide relevant evidence to back their point.

Film is no different.

It doesn’t matter if there are two radically opposing arguments on a film. They can both be valid and correct, if a case is positioned well and debated strongly. This is why there will never be such a thing as “an objectively bad or good film.”

By its very own nature, film simply cannot be objective.

Filmmaking, on any level, is designed to be interpreted by the audience–not put through some kind of “mathematical” equation that proves its worthiness. Plus, subjectivity is the mighty backbone of fandoms across the globe because the strength of that backbone is found in debate.

The Beauty of Debate

Source: NBC Television/Krasnoff Foster Productions

If we all agreed with movies, what’s even the point of discussing them?

Actual debate opens the door for people to see things in a different light. Keeping your mind open to reasonably discuss any kind of opinion can lead to a more rounded view of the film and provide you a much deeper understanding. Even if we still hate the film, we may leave with a newfound respect for it.

This is the beauty of film debate. Everybody speaking their minds on common ground, getting to know one another, and creating friendships in the process. People do not have to agree for that to happen; they just have to listen and understand. Debate, when done correctly, brings people together in a way nothing else can.

This is how film debate should be. We are in dire need of discussions like these.

Importance in Film Culture

Source: The Weinstein Company/Universal Pictures

Nowadays, “debate” goes more like this:

“You don’t like this movie I love? Well, your opinion is invalid and I’m not even gonna listen to you because you’re not a real fan.”

Sound familiar?

These type of interactions are all too common. It’s hard to go a day without running into these kind of polarizing comments. Owners of this thinking are ruining the fandom experience.

They try their hardest to invalidate other people’s opinions because they’re too insecure to accept the idea of someone else’s passion or purpose in film. These trolls have even gone so far recently as to claim that film is either objectively good or bad depending on (you guessed it) their own opinion on the matter.

In 2020, film debate is filled with loud, whiny, toxic “fans” who ruin the experience of how movie-going should be. They aren’t concerned about becoming the second coming of Siskel and Ebert. They probably don’t even know who they are. They aren’t interested in healthy discourse, an exchange of ideas, or even a spirited debate.

They want to fight. Why? Because they don’t agree with you not agreeing with them. 

The only way to combat this is to bring back true, civil debate. The film community is a place that people should gravitate towards to escape the hatred of the world, not avoid for the same reasons.

So please, make an effort to keep an open mind and try to have an open mouth full of more than just disagreement. You may be surprised where it takes you…and the movie experience as a whole. 


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Writer, filmmaker, gamer, and a huge film geek! I could talk about this stuff for days... try me. Follow me on Twitter at @MrDude_7
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