A common claim on numerous film forums, podcasts, news comment-sections, and especially YouTube videos, is the assertion that evaluations of film quality are subjective, and that those of us who rightly point out that, for example, The Last Jedi is an objectively terrible film are wrong by default. I think this philosophy is bullshit. Advocating that art and art criticism are based purely on individual knee-jerk reactions of creativity and interpretations of such creativity, respectively, devalues the art and all who work to understand it. Claiming that film content and cinematic quality are subjective is the lamest, laziest, most cop-out answer one can make in film criticism. Similar to how people of faith propose to explain away the existence of a higher power by saying, "God works in mysterious ways," allegations of film's subjectivity are worse than a bad or nonsensical argument against or for a particular film. It is not even an argument. It is a non-answer, a half-hearted, throw-your-hands-up-in-the-air straw-man defense for people too lazy or ignorant to defend their position.
While no filmmaker or film academic is entirely free from biased perception of the world around them, some are clearly "more free" than others and are better able to dissociate their personal views and experiences from limiting their understanding of other people and their artistic expression. For that is what a true review is: An assessment of a film that is as free as possible from personal biases, which is backed by rational arguments, concrete examples (i.e. evidence of quality), and detailed explanation. A good reviewer does not only tell you whether a movie sucks or not, they explain why, and in detail.
There are oceans of difference in splitting hairs and disparate quality. It may be futile to determine whether a cinematic landmark like Citizen Kane is really "better" or "worse" than an American classic like The Godfather, but much, much larger contrasts in cinematic craft exist in excess and speak to the very real nature of objective cinematic quality. For instance, compare either of the former to anything Adam Sandler has ever done, or any blockbuster from Transformers: Age of Extinction My assertion that Fight Club is a better piece of cinematic art than Transformers isn't my opinion, it's a fucking fact.
In other words, while it may be impossible to prove with 100% certainty the precise cinematic quality of all films relative to each another, that doesn't mean cinematic quality doesn't exist, or that isn't objectively measurable in some way based on the craftsmanship in the art of film-making, independent of our own personal positive or negative evaluations of a film like, "I liked it," or, "I hated it." Alleging that cinematic quality and craftsmanship are subjective is akin to giving everyone gold stars for trying in little league soccer or an A for effort in academia. This bullshit philosophy only devalues the entire craft of not only film itself but film criticism as well, because it argues that there is actually no craft in either of them!
Fiction » Essay Rated: T, English, Words: 9k+, Published: 4/26
Chapter 1: Film Is Objective