This is ultimately the problem people have in accepting this position, no matter how much they try and dress it up. They just don’t like accepting that they might be wrong about something…
My sense is that some don’t like the implication—namely, that it give license to judge and condemn others. I don’t like a judgmental attitude, or judging people in this way, but that doesn’t mean some opinions have more weight or validity than others.
Jazz, you ponder everything so deeply you must have to leave week long gaps between your film viewings.
Down to once a week, if not less. :(
Sure, but i think with people now, the tendency is to reject all forms of external authority. They don’t like accepting that the possibility that their understanding of the world could be wrong, so rather than accept that, they continue living in a bubble.
A classic example of this is how people like to act as if morality is a load of B.S and get mad when you tell them that it isn’t as subjective as they think. Why would they get so upset if they weren’t trying to reject any form of external authority that may get in the way of their ‘freedom’ and happiness? It’s all about ego.
Art and morality are two different things edit- JOKS :). Of course I am not going to question that killing someone is wrong. But wtf do I care if someone says that I’m looking at a painting wrong? I don’t care. Period.
You cannot put art and morality in the same sphere at all.
And to judge someone as having a problem with authority just because they don’t give a fig about critics and academics and their theories about movies is totally off base. It has nothing to do with someone’s personality. It DOES show an ability to differentiate about what matters a lot – not believing in murder – versus what does NOT matter a lot – thinking that film noir sucks (I’m not in that camp, love noir, but I’m throwing it out as an example).
“You cannot put art and morality in the same sphere at all”
I agree, but i think the rejection of the idea of right and wrong comes from the same source, irrespective of the subject and degrees of intensity. It’s ego driven behaviour and we are all guilty of it. some of us are worse than others though.
I agree, but i think the rejection of the idea of right and wrong comes from the same source. It’s ego driven behaviour.
No I think believing that you have a grasp on something that you think that no one else does and you are RIGHT is ego driven.
This is about ART Joks, not things that matter in life. Like liberty. Like the right to not to be molested. The right to live in peace with your neighbors.
Let’s draw that line right now.
“No I think believing that you have a grasp on something that no one else does and you are RIGHT is ego driven”
Sure, but someone can believe they are right about some things and wrong about others. I’d say you are more likely to meet people that reject most forms of external authority—particularly intellectual authority—based on ego than you would people that can rationally weight up and balance the elements.
“This is about ART Joks, not things that matter in life. Like liberty. Like the right to not to be molested. The right to live in peace with your neighbors.”
I agree, but people are children when it comes to arguing about things like freedom and politics anyway. Where is the separation? I honestly don’t see it, not in this society where a lot of people act as if breaking a nail is a seismic event ;-)
I wish more people were able to point out the difference between significant events and trivial things. the world would be a much better place.
But how does one judge whether someone else has the necessary knowledge or experience to be able to interpret a film so that others assign more weight to their opinion? If I offer an interpretation or pass judgment on a particular film, how is anyone to know how much weight to assign to my opinion? They don’t know me or have any idea how ‘qualified’ I am to make these assessments. It seems to me that in this case a lot of people either embrace or dismiss my views based on how closely it mirrors their own opinion, so we’re really no further forward.
Yep. I could not agree with you more there.
It seems to me that in this case a lot of people either embrace or dismiss my views based on how closely it mirrors their own opinion, so they’re really no further forward.
Yep. Again, agree. This seems to form the basis of alliances in general. If you agree, you’re “cool” and “in.” If you don’t, you suck and are out.
Ironically, this sort of thing happens with people who stridently claim to be the most egalitarian and morally correct. That’s when it nauseates me the most.
So are all opinions about art and artists of equal value to you? You don’t take some opinions more seriously than others? I’m referring to interpretation of an artwork; evaluation and comparison between artists or art—opinions about greatness, etc. I’m also certain that you do. If that’s true, doesn’t the knowledge and the way it’s used to support these opinions often play a decisive role?
Art and morality are two different things Jazz.
I’m not making that point. (I think the quote you posted came from Joks, not me.)
“If you agree, you’re “cool” and “in.” If you don’t, you suck and are out.”
Yeah, this has happened to me before. Sometimes, just for the hell of it, I try and buck against the majority of people’s feelings on a film, good or bad, just to see how I hold up in a serious film arguement. But it soon turns into a heated debate on how much I suck. People can be WAY to passionate about the cinema.
Yes Jazz, pardon, that was Joks.
Jazz — I don’t go by the greatness scale. I go by truth. That is, what rings true to me. That is subjective. And I’m aware of that.
Also, what is of interest to me about what people say about art isn’t just whether it rings true to me and I agree with it, it’s also the depth of perception and insight that reveals things I hadn’t thought of before — i.e. the education factor (my education by them). That I like very much. But it has nothing to do with validity, so much as an expansion of my awareness of something.
But it soon turns into a heated debate on how much I suck. People can be WAY to passionate about the cinema.
I think people associate their tastes with defining their personality too much, actually. That’s why they get mortally offended when you disagree with them – then they attack you personally for being an idiot.
A realization that your tastes are not what define you but just your tastes can help one get out of that “bubble,” to use Joks’ word.
To drive the point home, WHY do people not go off the deep end when you say you like bananas and they don’t, but they go off the deep end when you say you like Spielberg and they don’t? Weird.
“A realization that your tastes are not what define you but just your tastes can help one get out of that “bubble,” to use Joks’ word.”
Second. My feelings on a film never really define who I am as a person and what I am morally. A film I love is just a film that fit my tastes, I suppose.
WHY do people not go off the deep end when you say you like bananas and they don’t
Because who can hate a Woody Allen film, really?
If I offer an interpretation or pass judgment on a particular film, how is anyone to know how much weight to assign to my opinion?
By examining the way the person uses the knowledge and insight to support that opinion. The status or authority of the individual isn’t important, imo. As Odi mentioned, intelligent and experienced individuals can be wrong. (But again, I must point out that if their opinions can be wrong then not all opinions are equal.) Forget about the person giving his/her opinion and look at the opinion itself. Valid opinions tend to be based on some insight and good information that is used in a sensible and compelling way. Invalid opinions tend not to be. If someone interprets a film, but they don’t seem to understand it, then they’re opinion will be suspect. If I evaluate Robocop as a conventional action film—oblivious to the satire—that opinion will probably not be a valid one.
Shouldn’t there be more to film discussion than just critical interpretations of the work itself?
What about fact-based technical aspects of a film, often overlooked in academic settings and unfairly considered a layman’s territory (read: nerd), but actually worthy of value to those interested in the subject. There are online forums and sites dedicated to those type of discussions.
LOL Scampi :D
If someone interprets a film, but they don’t seem to understand it
But, Jazz, how can you judge whether someone understands a film other than by your own understanding of the film and how it aligns with that, which may itself be ‘faulty’ (to run with your thinking on this)?
Yes and really good critics will be able to talk about the technical aspects at least a little too, because it does bring another facet to interpretation which can lead to very interesting insights. There are a few people on this site, Apu and Wu Yong, for example, who actually go there.
“But, Jazz, how can you judge whether someone understands a film other than by your own understanding of the film and how it aligns with that, which may itself be ‘faulty’ (to run with your thinking on this)?”
Because most films are not dots on a white piece of paper. There are always going to be a limited number of valid ways to read into a film by its very structure and design.
Also, what is of interest to me about what people say about art isn’t just whether it rings true to me and I agree with it, it’s also the depth of perception and insight that reveals things I hadn’t thought of before — i.e. the education factor (my education by them). That I like very much.
Depth of perception and insight are kinds of knowledge, are they not? So opinions backed up by insight are more compelling or more valuable to you (i.e., valid). Or think of the opposite: you don’t put much stock in opinions that go against some insight or knowledge, right (i.e., you value you them less)?
There are always going to be a limited number of valid ways to read into a film by its very structure and design.
But again you’re assuming there are only certain ‘right’ ways to interpret a film. This is what we’re disagreeing with.
One’s understanding of a film could be faulty, but that’s the nature of the beast. We get around this by scrutinizing one’s understanding and see if it matches up with the film. Do you think that it’s impossible to misunderstand and misread a film?
There are a limited ways to interpret a film. Think about the implications if this isn’t true—a film could mean anything. Do you really believe that?
Interpreting Bambi as a commentary on the Great Depression is valid if it can be explained to a satisfactory degree within what’s presented in the film, (absent the filmmaker actually going on record to state that this was never the intention) ie that parallels can be pointed out between the two.
Bambi could be read as a commentary on the Kennedy assassination retrospectively if the same conditions are met. I’m reminded of Greg X’s interpretation of Independence Day as the rise of the feminine in American society. I would be hesitant to acknowledge this as being the filmmaker’s intention and wouldn’t assume Greg’s reading to be accurate at all in an absolute sense (even though I personally find him to be an intelligent and knowledgable person with regard to films). Nevertheless it was tremendous fun to read his take on the film and added an extra dimension to the film to ponder over, which made sitting through Independance Day less of a chore, so is laudable.
I agree. But doesn’t your comment also imply that the commentary won’t be legitimate if it CAN’T be explained to a satisfactory degree? Ergo, some comments are valid, while others are not.
On a side note, I think people might be having a problem with terms like “right” and “wrong” and “valid” and “invalid”—mostly because these terms connote several things: a) judgmental attitude; b) absoluteness—i.e., one and only one right or correct way; c) denying the right to an opinion. FWIW, I’m NOT using the terms in those ways.
Well, yes of course. I was taking that as read. What I was getting at was that within all the possible readings of a film, none is more valid than any other if the same conditions are met. And that it makes no difference who’s doing the interpreting.
What I was getting at was that within all the possible readings of a film, none is more valid than any other if the same conditions are met.
You mean, “within all possible valid readings of a film?” If so I agree. I think more than one valid reading of a film is possible. (I do think that number is quite limited, though.)
Now if you agree that some opinions are more valid than others, then we’re no longer in pure subjective territory. The thought experiment in this thread posits a world where all opinions are equally valid—would there be a value in talking about films in that case?
And that it makes no difference who’s doing the interpreting.
I agree 100%. Look at the argument, not the person giving the argument.
Jazz, lol. Depth of perception and insight has to do with a person’s abilities to communicate to me, therefore I restrict my respect to that person — say, I find what a certain critic says is interesting. Another critic, who might be equally “educated” I may not find as interesting. I might back the first critic up, but merely because I find what they say resonates with me more, and they “speak my language” well. But another person might have the opposite reaction. Am I going to call the second critic wrong? No. I just disagree. It’s opinion.
Look in academia it is the practice to come up with some with some very zany and creative interpretations of things. Like, the whole Bambi thing in this and the other discussion you started — in academia, that would be valid. Why? Because it’s about the freedom of thinking about things, being creative, not being right or wrong or valid or invalid. I might personally think an interpretation is off the wall, but would I point my finger in the person’s face and say “YOU ARE WRONG” in a thundering voice? No! I would say, vive la difference and laugh and say “Well I still like X’s interpretation better but let’s agree to disagree.” There is no valid or invalid, right or wrong, there is only opinion. And that is subjective. And that is the fun of it. And that is why it is great to have debates, for the reasons that others have stated above far better than I can.
Hmm…I feel the goalposts have shifted somewhat…lol. I’m beginning to think this thread isn’t about what I thought it was about.
Anyway, to run with what I think the thread seems to be about now, if all opinions are equally valid then I think we’d live in a very strange world indeed. I think there’d still definitely be value in exchanging ideas about films for the reason I stated above. I like to know what other people think about stuff, how they see the world. If they don’t agree with me or if what they say seems outlandish to me then a discussion as to why they think what they do is an interesting thing to me. There doesn’t need to be a winner and a loser at the end of the discussion, just a clear indication that you both know where the other is coming from. It’s fun.
@ODI “Yes and really good critics will be able to talk about the technical aspects at least a little too, because it does bring another facet to interpretation which can lead to very interesting insights.”
I agree. The problem is that those aspects are considered trivial or ‘nitpicking’ when discussing with others whose interpretations may differ to the factual circumstances surrounding certain films.
DPs would consider the use of a color scheme or a particular lightfilter not for anything symbolic, but simply based on technical or practical reasons alone.
A good example is Night Of The Living Dead. It’s considered a landmark in independent filmmaking, however the walking dead were often interpreted as an allegorical symbol (soldiers walking in rice paddies blah-blah) to the Vietnam war raging at that time. The fact is Romero and co. initially planned a sci-fi flick about flesh-eating aliens (destined for the drive-in theatre crowd). Lack of funding and budget for special effects resulted in the use of reanimated corpses as substitute for alien invaders. The interpretation remained, but didn’t hurt the film.