Movies and Standards: Too Damn High?

jimmy mcmillan

There are a lot of movies out there, of many different qualities. Some are great, some are bad, and some simply have their ups and downs. Yet every time I log on to check out a review, comments on a site like IMDB or Rotten Tomatoes, or simply listen to friends it seems there is one common thread: the standards of vocal reviewers is too damn high.

I’m not saying we aren’t entitled to our opinions or that they can’t be shared. The problem is that, all too often, we share those opinions as if they are facts. “This movie is one of the worst films of all time!” or “Only a moron would enjoy this garbage!” are common fallacious claims that litter Facebook posts or website reviews. Sometimes these are from rabid fans upset at a movie’s interpretation of “their” fandom; other times they’re simply people who watch a lot of movies and seem to think their opinion is the absolute bar for perfection. In the end, the majority of these reviews seem to be based more on personal likes rather than cinematic analysis.

For example, Star Trek: Into Darkness received some very nasty reviews, deriding the movie as a rip-off. An entire Star Trek convention voted it the worst Star Trek movie of all time, even in the face of films like the Shatner-directed “Final Frontier”. One would think this movie must have atrocious acting, a horrible plot, and no redeeming qualities… except every other factor about the movie disagrees.

“Into Darkness” not only has a 7.9/10 (IMDB), 72/100 (Metacritic), and A grade (Cinemascore), but also is ranked 87% fresh by Critics and 90% fresh by Audiences (Rotten Tomatoes). This reboot sequel ranks 2nd for opening weekends, 4th for domestic box office, and 1st for worldwide box office among all Star Trek films (with amounts adjusted for inflation). In addition, “Into Darkness” was nominated for 26 different awards from 15 different organizations, taking home Best Film (Hollywood Film Awards), British Artist of the Year (Britannia Awards), and Best Overall Blu-Ray (Satellite Awards).

How could this movie rank so highly from reviews to box office to awards, and yet be the “worst” Star Trek movie ever? Simply, the standards of some people is too damn high. Although a great movie, there was little new about “Into Darkness” beyond flashy effects, different actors, and some changes in plot. It was even written as an homage to the original sequel, which drew derision as a “rip-off” from some viewers. Yet, these people couldn’t look past the parts they disliked, instead resorting to immature and emotional reactions, labeling the movie as garbage without ever judging the movie on its cinematic value or in the larger scheme of things. Worse, in their arrogance, many of these reviewers lauded themselves as the true experts on “Star Trek”, and that the rankings by everyone else were invalid and inaccurate.

It’s this arrogance and limited viewpoint that keeps people from enjoying many hidden gems (or simply enjoyable knock-offs). Unless a new movie ranks as highly as Star Wars (IV or V), Raiders of the Lost Ark, or Jaws, it’s immediately labeled as “crap”. You can’t just tell someone to watch a movie for some great action or silly one-liners, without them attacking the plot, acting, or cinematography. Even movies that did well at the box office and have average ratings, like I, Robot, Underworld, or Ghost Rider, are immediately thrown away as “unworthy”. And let’s not even get into movies that are definitely bad but still provide entertainment if people just let them, like Battleship or Punisher: War Zone.

What is it with people’s standards? Can they not find the enjoyment in a cliché horror, a ridiculous action film, or an over-the-top F/X sci-fi? Why must everything be looked at through tinted glasses and down one’s nose? People really need to relax and try to enjoy a movie for what it is, not what they want it to be. Standards are fine, as there are even a few movies I wanted my money back, but they’re not immovable and clear lines that can never be crossed.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll go watch my copy of Ultraviolet or 2010’s The Wolfman.

Universal Health Coverage: Not a Bad Thing


One of the biggest issues I have with the whole “socialized medicine” debate is people are getting pissed off about things like religious or personal “rights”, arguing over whether they should be forced to do something or contribute toward others. All of this ignores the bigger picture: universal health coverage works. 14 out of 15 of the healthiest countries have government-run, universal health care, from Asia to Europe to Africa. Despite this blatant fact, we seem to be opposed to socialized medicine for no reason other than our egocentric and ignorant worldview. What is wrong with a system that is proven to help everybody?

Now, don’t get me wrong, because even a good program can have problems in the wrong hands. Our government suffers from incompetence and immorality, meaning our universal system may not compare to other countries. Until we can get big money and corruption out of politics, nothing will work… capitalism, socialism, conservatism, progressivism, etc. What we don’t realize is these are all just labels to divide us, make us fight, and cover up the plutocracy we actually live in. If we would stop listening to divisive politicians and “news” sources, however, and start thinking about the bigger picture… maybe we could make things like universal healthcare work?

Also, just because the government behind everything has issues doesn’t mean we should ignore government-run programming. I’d rather have a system of common sense legislation enacted poorly than shitty legislation enacted the same. And maybe once we start getting some of these programs rolling (whether 100% or 50%), we can start concentrating on the bigger issues of cutting the red tape and trimming the fat.

It’s folly to argue over where funds need to be cut from bad policies and programs, when the policies and programs should disappear in the end anyway. Put the right approaches in place first, then evaluate what needs to be done to increase efficiency. Otherwise, we’re just arguing over whether a bush should be trimmed as a shape or an animal, when in reality we need a flower garden.

In the end, I would rather our Federal government offer a universal system than continue to deal with the deceit and exorbitant costs of the corporations currently running the show. I’ll take incompetence over greed any day. At least the incompetence can be worked on through training and regulation…. the greedy will continue to be greedy no matter what you throw at them.


Once More: Please Understand what “Political Correctness” is!


In all the discussion over the change of the Washington football team’s name, there seems to be one erroneous path of logic for those upset about a possible name change: “it’s all about political correctness!” Guess what… this has nothing to do with “Political Correctness”, and just like the terms “Liberal”, “Socialist”, and “Communist”, I suggest you understand what you’re saying before you try and use the words in a counterargument.

Politically correct is defined as “agreeing with the idea that people should be careful to not use language or behave in a way that could offend a particular group of people” and “conforming to a belief that language and practices which could offend political sensibilities (as in matters of sex or race) should be eliminated.” In layman’s terms, it means thinking about what you’re saying or doing because (regardless of intent) it might be construed offensively. Some people call it “critical thinking” or “common sense”…

Political correctness is what gave us debates over labels regarding minorities, the disabled, or the elderly. “African Americans” versus “Blacks”, “Native Americans” versus “American Indians”, “Disabled” versus “Handicapped”, etc. The reason these debates on PC are so divisive is that even the people being labeled have different opinions on what they want (if anything). Worse, these debates are often started by people who don’t even belong to the groups being labeled, bringing to question who is offended and why? Regardless, PC debates are basically about determining if a seemingly inoffensive term or action is, in fact, offensive and should be used.

The term “Redskins” is not about PC because there is no debate on whether it is offensive or not. It is offensive. It is labeled in multiple dictionaries as offensive slang, derogatory, and a racial slur. It was created as a slur, was continually used as a derogatory term, and is still found offensive by the very people it labels. There is no debate on whether this term is innocuous, as even half of the people who want to keep the name admit it is an inappropriate label. Therefore, this has nothing to do with the political correctness of the term, as the majority of ~everybody~ agrees it is not.

The debate over the use of American Indian imagery in sports is about PC. Feel free to argue over whether teams like the Indians or the Braves are being offensive or not.

The debate over the term “Redskins” is not about PC. It’s about the continued use of a racial slur, that the majority agrees is a racial slur, and that has no place in an intelligent, educated, and intercultural society.