Archive for June 14th, 2009

Symposium: Movies and Objectivity

In response to the excellent ratings and reviews of “Saving Private Ryan”, Tim claims that “These two scores represent a reasonable enough cross-section of viewers and critics to call this film great”.

Tim then issues me a question, asking, “It’s obvious that there’s not complete objectivity in film, and that no one film will entertain and enlighten all of its audience. The question for Josh, then, is whether Up is his Saving Private Ryan, or whether the film subversively manipulates the masses’ reaction to it.”

Up is not my Saving Private Ryan. I haven’t seen Saving Private Ryan so I can’t comment on the quality of it, but, like Tim, I think I probably would not appreciate it as much as other people because of a general aversion to war movies. Nonetheless, despite my not having a taste for it, it is possible for Saving Private Ryan to be a great movie but I believe this for different reasons than Tim. I reject the notion (promoted in slightly different ways by Tim and John) that movies are great because people think they are great. John takes a more subjectivist approach claiming that “Calling a movie “great,” whether it be Saving Private Ryan or Mindhunters, is ALWAYS a subjective judgment. If you enjoy a movie, then you think it’s a good movie.” Tim takes a more collective subjectivist approach, believing that we should look to the mass view of a movie based on viewers and critics to determine a film’s greatness. I reject both of these views.
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