Not Wrong, Just Different

Chances are you have had a conversation at some point similar to the following: “Have you seen ____?  I loved it so much.”  “You liked that?!  That movie was garbage.  Only an idiot would like something like that.”  Yes?  I know I have.  Many times I’d be the one saying those words.  I was what you could affectionately refer to as a pretentious film jerk.  Sure, I was polite so I wouldn’t call someone out to their face, but I certainly thought it.  I had my taste in movies and if you didn’t like the movies I liked, or if you loved something I didn’t care for you were wrong.  No two ways about it, you just had poor taste in movies.  Then, slowly but surely, I began to notice something.  Film critics online that I greatly respect would time to time have differing opinions than me.  Every year there are many movies that I love that bomb at the box office while some I despise rake in the big bucks.  Suddenly I had an epiphany.  No, not the “it’s not all about me” realization.  I was born a middle child and came out of the womb knowing that wasn’t true.  The epiphany was that perhaps individuals with a different point of view about motion pictures are not wrong, just different.  For those out there that are hyper-opinionated, I’ll give you a moment to allow that to sink in.  Not wrong, just different.  My mind was blown.  How could this be?  If the movie is good shouldn’t all people perceive it that way?

At closer inspection a couple of things become abundantly clear to me.  Firstly, movies have a target audience.  The next Nicholas Sparks film will be a tear-jerker romance intended to tug at a woman’s heartstrings.  If you walk into a theater showing the movie, you will no doubt see the seats filled with women and a few guys trying to earn brownie points on that date.  Likewise, without looking up the numbers I would venture to guess that the largest demographic of movie-goers at a Fast and the Furious movie is men age teens-20s and that a movie like the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel attracts individuals more advanced in years.  I like to believe that i have an eclectic taste in movies but it’s true that I, as a 30-year-old male, would be more inclined to purchase a ticket to an action-adventure movie than a chick flick.  Why does any of this matter?  It’s because a chick flick in not inherently an inferior genre to an action-adventure feature.  I just might not be the target audience.  The larger film studios and distributors, in a crazy ploy to pull larger profits, have churned out films in every genre to make things any demographic will pay to see.  There’s good and bad movies in each genre, so to make a blanket statement that “horror movies suck” is an ignorant comment.  They just might not be your cup of tea.  Not wrong, just different.

Epiphany 2.0 (or is it 1.2 since it’s part of the same epiphany?)- a motion picture can impact you differently on an emotional level due to your varying life experiences or your current state.  Let me dive right in with an example:  My wife and I watched Marley & Me while we were dating.  I’m very much a dog person and my wife can’t stand pets (I’m holding out hope that our future child can soften her up with a big, sad-eyed plea of “please mommy, can we get a puppy”, but I digress).  She feels animals are gross and doesn’t understand the attachment or how people can view a pet as part of the family.  I had a dog at the time who was getting up there in years, so by the end of the movie I’m fighting to hold back the tears.  This is an Owen Wilson comedy and I’m a few seconds away from the waterworks.  My wife, on the other hand, just laughs at me and says :it’s just a dog.:  If you were involved in a breakup that you might react differently to a RomCom than someone engaged to marry their high school sweetheart.  If you’re struggling with your identity you’ll be hit harder by those coming of age features.  If you have been lucky enough to have had a modicum of success and notoriety in your life and no longer feel relevant, than Birdman will play for you completely different from for most.   Most movies address real experiences or real emotions and based on your unique life the prism through which you view that movie will be different that anybody else’s experience.  I can’t fault you for that,  Not wrong, just different.

Epiphany 2.3B – we tend to hold great sentimentality for movies we grew up with or watched a million times, due to familiarity.  No matter how old you get the Disney movies that came out when you were a child will always be the best in your eyes.  They are the ones you watched when you were the target audience and the ones that played on loop at your house, to your mother’s dismay.  You know every line and sing along to the songs.  “They just don’t make animated features like they used to,” right?  Once again I’m making the argument that the movies are not necessarily better, you just hold them in higher esteem due to the personal attachment.  This is another discussion I’ve often had with my wife.  I grew up with modern classics like Princess Bride and Christmas Story, which I can quote beginning to end and have to watch as least once a year.  She first saw both those pictures while in high school and didn’t care for them.  On the flipside, her family grew up with Danny Kaye films and would go to war with anyone who says anything negative against him of one of this movies.  Would we like these movies as much if we saw them for the first time today?  I honestly have no idea.  A movie we grew up with is like a close friend from our childhood.  We see past the flaws and get defensive if anyone criticizes them.  These films bring us back to a time of comfort and hold a special place in our hearts even if our taste refines as we get older.  Again, not wrong just different.

This isn’t a all-inclusive list of the reasons why people like various movies, but they are just a couple of points I came to realize recently.  I’m not saying here that there’s no bad movies or even that each movie has its own merit.  There are tons of movies that are unfocused, poorly conceived, badly written, shot, acted, etc.  My argument is that possessing different taste does not automatically equate to bad taste.  There’s the chance our varying opinions on film are not wrong, just different.  Now that I’ve put acceptance of other’s movie preference in writing, I guess I’ll be held to it.  Thanks for reading; “I’ll be right here.”

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