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The Reviewer’s Fallacy - When critics aren’t critical enough.

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Re: The Reviewer’s Fallacy - When critics aren’t critical enough.

#41

Post by St. Gloede » January 20th, 2020, 9:40 pm

I don't understand how you come to that impression, and of course the sentiment should be doubled down on. You ignored his point completely, namely that if you want to appreciate cultures for the specific sake of understanding and being engulfed in the experiences of other cultures you should watch culturally significant films, not culturally insignificant films - even though they may be far superior and far more rewarding.
But would you have said "festival films that the Europeans themselves don't watch"?
Obviously... That's his point...

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#42

Post by St. Gloede » January 20th, 2020, 9:42 pm

fakeusername2 wrote:
January 20th, 2020, 8:56 pm
Who actually reads movie reviews? Seriously, who is the target demographic? Exactly zero people who stumble into the theater to watch the latest Hollywood movies reads reviews, so it's not exactly surprising that reviewers don't cater to this audience. My guess is that most reviewers work for rags like 'The New Yorker' that need something to fill up their culture sections other than bad poetry. And since nobody reads The New Yorker straight through like a novel, most people who thumb to the culture section for reviews want something to make conversation with other people who pretend to read The New Yorker: "did you hear about this new arthouse film from Africa" -- I know Africa's not a country, please excuse my malignant racism k thx -- "it's really [insert paraphrase of vacuous TNY quote.]" People who actually watch a lot of movies know how to pick what to watch using their own heuristics, and for everyone else algorithms are the future.

I don't know -- in my fifteen years of watching movies I never once read a review. Actually, that's not true; I read a bunch of reviews of 'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood' a couple weeks back because I had some spare time and was looking for some suckers to pay me ninety bucks for my thoughts. All of them were terrible. Without exception, they were vapid, poorly written, and lacking any insight beyond the caliber of social commentary you'd get from the journalism department's monthly periodical. I think this makes sense if nobody is actually reading the reviews. Rags need the culture section, MFAs need to eat, and New Yorkers (the people, not the magazine) need something superficial to talk about in the checkout line: a nice equilibrium.

And that's why this article, "The Reviewer's Fallacy," also turned into a waste of time. Yagoda tells us that reviewers and the general movie-going public have different priorities. My God, you don't say, did anyone tell The New Yorker?! (NB: It's surprising -- sorry, I mean not surprising at all and completely and utterly predictable -- that Yagoda wrote a book fawning over The New Yorker.) The whole function of this article is to get people to remember the clever little "reviewer's fallacy" until it's part of the culture. I imagine that this article is making bigger rounds on Twitter than the usual piece from the Slate culture section. Slate wins, Yagoda wins, wannabe aristocrats win, and everyone else still has nothing interesting to read about movies.
Can I just drop in and say that Sight and Sound is pretty damn great.

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#43

Post by fori » January 20th, 2020, 9:52 pm

St. Gloede wrote:
January 20th, 2020, 9:40 pm
I don't understand how you come to that impression, and of course the sentiment should be doubled down on. You ignored his point completely, namely that if you want to appreciate cultures for the specific sake of understanding and being engulfed in the experiences of other cultures you should watch culturally significant films, not culturally insignificant films - even though they may be far superior and far more rewarding.
But would you have said "festival films that the Europeans themselves don't watch"?
Obviously... That's his point...
Then how come I never hear anybody say that, but I hear plenty of people say that about Africa or poorer Asian countries? I don’t believe matthewscott8 would have posted that on this forum.
As for culturally significant films I agree! Many people across the world are engaged in mainstream American culture. But even the most obscure films can have far more to say about the country they cake from than American blockbusters that are popular there do. For example, just yesterday I saw “One Recluse”, a documentary relating to the Yang Jia case. Sure, probably very few in China have seen it, but a lot of people remember that story, and watching it would likely help build more empathy than any amount of superhero films.

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#44

Post by fakeusername2 » January 20th, 2020, 9:54 pm

Can I just drop in and say that Sight and Sound is pretty damn great.
BFI is one of the few places that produces quality material (although I find their books pretty boring.) Places like Cineaste are also okay if you're into political readings of film, but here we should definitely expect a divergence between reviewers and audiences because they're clearly not targeting the general public. Once you get to academic film journals the material becomes mostly pedantic and unreadable, so anyone looking for insightful and actually interesting film analysis must simply run across the right blog or writer because there's no financial incentive to produce the material. (Example: one of the best academic writers on cinema to me is Steven Jay Schneider, and he left the academic world behind to produce the Insidious films.)

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#45

Post by St. Gloede » January 20th, 2020, 10:07 pm

fori wrote:
January 20th, 2020, 9:52 pm
St. Gloede wrote:
January 20th, 2020, 9:40 pm
I don't understand how you come to that impression, and of course the sentiment should be doubled down on. You ignored his point completely, namely that if you want to appreciate cultures for the specific sake of understanding and being engulfed in the experiences of other cultures you should watch culturally significant films, not culturally insignificant films - even though they may be far superior and far more rewarding.
But would you have said "festival films that the Europeans themselves don't watch"?
Obviously... That's his point...
Then how come I never hear anybody say that, but I hear plenty of people say that about Africa or poorer Asian countries? I don’t believe matthewscott8 would have posted that on this forum.
As for culturally significant films I agree! Many people across the world are engaged in mainstream American culture. But even the most obscure films can have far more to say about the country they cake from than American blockbusters that are popular there do. For example, just yesterday I saw “One Recluse”, a documentary relating to the Yang Jia case. Sure, probably very few in China have seen it, but a lot of people remember that story, and watching it would likely help build more empathy than any amount of superhero films.
I think you need to reread the conversation. Matthew only brought this up based on a very specific comment you made.

I have never seen this said about African films (because they are not in the spotlight), though I do occasionally see it said about certain larger industries (usually by people from X country, or with a more "popular" mindset"). The reason it is not too common is because on film forums like this no few care about popular consensus/the zeitgeist of the average jane/joe, and we quite like watching French films the French will never care to see, etc. This is NOT a negative, and was never brought up as a negative - it was only brought up to one particular point you made, which may have been misunderstood/misread, as you don't seem to catch the context.

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#46

Post by fori » January 20th, 2020, 10:17 pm

I know what was said. I said I was uncomfortable about how few films from Africa I had seen. Hardly provoking of a response of that sort...
I don’t really get what you’re saying here either. If you think this comment is legitimate, here’s my challenge: find one instance of people saying the equivalent for Europe in the nearly decade long history of this forum.
And I assume you have conceded the point on “One Recluse”?

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#47

Post by fakeusername2 » January 20th, 2020, 10:47 pm

Perhaps it's too late, but I would be happy to say it: I used to watch a lot of 'art house' movies from Europe, but I don't anymore because not even Europeans watch that crap! Seriously, who wants to sit through hours of long, stationary shots with some Ray-Ban wearing poseur pontificating about communism? Most Europeans are probably watching Batman like the rest of non-anhedonic humanity. And man, African cinema? I'd love to fly to Senegal and try to strike up conversations about 'Touki Bouki' so some university student could tell me, "dude, my dad was an extra in that movie when he was seven. Uh yeah, we're going to watch Avengers XIX now." Me: "Oldboy is one of my favorite movies." My Korean coworkers: "Seriously, what's wrong with you?" I know for damn sure they're not watching garbage like 'Motel Cactus.' It's safe to say that only North Koreans have the punishment of being afflicted with their own cinema. Someone should contact the UN about that actually, total crime against humanity.

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#48

Post by St. Gloede » January 20th, 2020, 11:38 pm

fori wrote:
January 20th, 2020, 10:17 pm
I know what was said. I said I was uncomfortable about how few films from Africa I had seen. Hardly provoking of a response of that sort...
I don’t really get what you’re saying here either. If you think this comment is legitimate, here’s my challenge: find one instance of people saying the equivalent for Europe in the nearly decade long history of this forum.
And I assume you have conceded the point on “One Recluse”?
No, the response was obviously to your previous sentence:

"If you’re interested in supporting those who don’t get representation, it’s good to always be vigilant."

At least as far as I can interpret this comment you are saying African communities should get representation, hence why the response is legitimate. This may not have been what you intended to say, but that is how it read.

Your question doesn't make sense as you seem to have placed Matt's response into a different context I don't follow.

His response is a logical objection to how he read your statement. If you want to represent Americans you should watch Adam Sandler, American Pie, the Medusa films, Marvel, etc. What individual communities like is never really a concern - unless you have a wish to inflict mental harm by going through the Box Office list.

-

That said there are countless quotes from Onderhond about us ignoring popular Chinese cinema in favour of crap that the Chinese do not care about, and similarly from Samlion regarding French cinema.

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#49

Post by St. Gloede » January 20th, 2020, 11:49 pm

In case it is still not clear: Matt never said anything of the kind - you misunderstood his logical objection of what he perceived to be your claim.

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#50

Post by fori » January 20th, 2020, 11:57 pm

That isn't what I meant, I think my further responses demonstrate that adequately enough. If I was arguing what you suggest, I would just be making the case for watching the highest grossing movies, which I am obviously not. This also doesn't invalidate my objections to what he said. It's a massive generalisation that implies that the entirety of a diverse billion people are uncultured, particularly troubling when put into the context of colonial history, which was part of the discussion right before he said it!
Also: Onderhond has said before Chinese people are collectively wrong in what they think about their own cinema. Not that this is relevant though.

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#51

Post by St. Gloede » January 21st, 2020, 12:25 am

I am afraid your further responses did not clear it up, especially given this:

"It's a massive generalisation that implies that the entirety of a diverse billion people are uncultured, particularly troubling when put into the context of colonial history, which was part of the discussion right before he said it"

I'm confused as well here. The way I read this, the only way this reply makes logical sense to me is if you believe these billions of people love obscure art films that very few people are seeing. Obviously, this is such a strange contradiction that I know this can not be what you mean - which leaves me quite confused.

As Matthew pointed out above this is a 100% correct generalization of EVERY CULTURE in the world.

I really do not understand what you are arguing for/against, or what you actually believe you read, but to cut through the confusion:

Matt made a pointed objection to how one of your sentences/paragraphs read, poking fun at its apparent logic. That's it, and as you say, it was not your intent (which means everyone are just talking past each other).

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#52

Post by fori » January 21st, 2020, 12:44 am

No, I'm not saying that every person in Africa watches endless art films. Let's have some nuance here. I'm saying that in my experience I have heard people say this about Africa or Asian nations. I have never heard anyone say this about Europe, aside from Mr Contrarian right after I pointed out this dynamic. This statement from matthewscott8 verges on (but isn't necessarily in and of itself) racism, because it implies that the entirety of the people of Africa are uncultured. I agree that watching art films is rare. Indeed, I think most people in any country have only passing interest in movies, and only as an amusing way to spend two hours once a month. When I call for "explore different voices around the world", "represent(ing) the vast non-white majority in the world" and so on, it's obvious that I am talking about film that reflects the perspectives and experiences of people around the world, not trying to draw attention to the same films that already dominate because they have been successful cultural exports to many places. I have gone on to further clarify that point as well.

I don't understand what your continued objections are meant to signify either. I won't reply to this thread further, this has just been a ridiculous time sink.

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#53

Post by St. Gloede » January 21st, 2020, 5:50 am

Nuance about what? What do you believe people say about Africa and Asia? What do you believe was said? And how on earth does it imply anything of the kind? The only implication above was that people from Africa are like everybody else, and the comment is specifically about that.

I'm very, very confused as to how you are reaching any of these conclusions or where they are coming from.

You presented the topic in a very specific way, which as you say, was not your intention, and Matt poked fun at the apparent logic, that is it.

There was no implication or statement that we should not explore these films because the majority of people in their countries have not cared to see them - or whatever you read into this. The objection was to the way you presented the topic, and that alone.

If someone had misread you to believe you were saying there was a moral dimension to representing Belgian films (on the basis of representation) similar statements would likely have been made. Noting how little most people care about art films is a common staple in film communities.

I replied/objected to try to explain this, but it seems fairly pointless. If you don't understand it now it is best to just drop it, it is not going anywhere.

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