Can you honestly tell me that the Rolling Stones were not influenced at all by the early Beatles songs which mixed R&B into rock and roll? Way at the start of their career the Beatles even wrote songs for them. Not to mention the invention of the whole modern paradigm of the ‘rock group’.
You mean wrote a song which the Rolling Stones recorded. From that flimsy bit of trivia you say the Stones were influenced by the Beatles? If this is the case, Miles Davis was influenced by Cyndi Lauper because he recorded Time After Time.
The “modern paradigm” of a “rock group” goes back long before the Beatles. As you say, they took much of their music, not to mention their format, from Blues and early R&B. Did Chuck Berry or Little Richard play alone?
I suppose in this sense I would agree with Jazz there is a certain objectiveness one can bring to criticism.
The relationship between the Beatles and the Stones was one of rivalry combined with mutual respect. The Beatles did not invent the rock band, but they did revolutionize what it meant to be one. The Stones were one of the earliest band to follow in their wake. The Stone’s first single, “I Wanna Be Your Man” was a Lennon McCartney song. Listen to between the Buttons and think how impossible that would have been without the Beatles expanding what a rock album could accomplish (along with Dylan, to be fair.) As Matt mentioned, Her Satanic Majesties Request was very inspired by Sgt. Pepper. The list of rock bands not influenced by the Beatles is a short one and, even then, it’s likely that their influences (say, Black Sabbath) were influenced by the Beatles. Other British Invasion bands of the sixties even more so.
“The Stone’s first single, “I Wanna Be Your Man” was a Lennon McCartney song”
SECOND single. Their first was “Come On”, a Chuck Berry song.
“what would be the value in talking about movies if opinions were completely subjective/relative to the individual?”
What is the value in talking about movies if opinions aren’t completely subjective/relative?
If there’s no strictly objective interpretation of a work, then there can’t very well be an objective value to an interpretation. So the value of strictly subjective opinions would itself have to be subjective, right?
The more I think about this thought experiment the more I’ve come to realise that this is actually describing real life (outside of the mubi forums). Any casual movie goer I’ve ever met believes their opinion on a film is as valid as anyone else’s, and it certainly seems that these people don’t believe there is much point in talking about films because most of them don’t, beyond offering a simple ‘it sucked’ or ‘that was great’.
^ yup. :)
If the validity and value of an opinion isn’t strictly subjective, then debating seems to be more meaningful. A person can be misinformed or not thinking clearly; maybe their personal biases are clouding their judgment. I’m not sure we could speak this way if opinions were strictly subjective.
Right (I think)—although I don’t think we need strict objectivity in order to have something more than subjectivity (if that makes sense).
I think most people behave as if opinions are purely subjective, but I don’t that means that’s actually the case. I think part of the reason this seems to be the case is that most people don’t care much about evaluating art—they just care about what they like or don’t like.
Perhaps we should say it is not merely a dichotomy of subjectivism and objectivism. There’s a bit of both.
If we have everyone in the same theater, or watching the film on the same TV, then there is basically zero difference between the viewers’ subjective perception of the film, no? The celluloid doesn’t change for you or me.
Since we’ve all experienced the same thing we can talk about it in an objective manner, giving reasons for our aesthetic judgements, or how we thought the film delivered its themes, etc. The key is to begin asking WHY you thought the film wasn’t convincing/the performances weak/the ending disappointing/etc.
There are of course subjective responses. An insightful example for me is The Tree of Life which conjured many personal memories as I watched it. The films may not evoke such memories in someone else, and they may not have been moved as much as I was.
Valid is such a vague word. Yes, certain people through reason and experience, will be able to offer more interesting and valuable analyses of a film. But not one is excluded from this process.
Perhaps the only invalid opinions are those that are unsupported by reason:
“I really loved this film!”
“I don’t know!”
Right, we should stop thinking about subjectivity and objectivity as binary terms—i.e., either/or. (Indeed, at this point, I think we should come up with new terms to talk about this.) Instead of a subjective-objective dichotomy, maybe we can speak about a subjective-objective continuum. Some opinions about films are really subjective, some are less so, and some even feel close to being objective.
Yes, certain people through reason and experience, will be able to offer more interesting and valuable analyses of a film. But not one is excluded from this process.
Absolutely. The people making the case for the argument (i.e., their credentials, social status, etc.) are unimportant. What is important is the quality of the argument being made—i.e., is it reasonable? does it jibe with the film? etc.
I’d also include opinions that really can’t be backed up by the film.
Movies themselves are subjective, so it is hard to distance yourself from this and view a film with a cool, detached eye, although some reviewers do this. I suppose if you are trying to a film into the perspective of cinema in general, or compare a film like The Artist to earlier silent flims, it becomes less subjective.
Back to the Beatles, they had a huge influence on pop music and marketing of music. I’m not sure what you mean by expansion of the rock album, Brad, but I think Cream was the real innovator in this regard. Their albums really opened up the idea of the rock album to be much more than a collection of pop songs. Of course, there was nothing new about this. They were very much influenced by modern jazz, as was The Who, Pink Floyd, Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Jimi Hendrix Experience and Band of Gypsies and other rock bands at the time. These were all deeply influential bands and set an entirely new direction for rock music, which the Beatles only touched upon in the late 60s before breaking apart. Harrison would go on to collaborate with Clapton, Ravi Shankar and many others on Concert for Bangladesh. Ringo joined him in this fabulous venture. You have to wonder who was influencing who here?
BTW, Dylan’s double LP Blonde and Blonde came out the same year as Sgt. Pepper, 1966. He had previously worked with Al Kooper on Highway 61 Revisited, a very expansive rock album. He had been working on the BonB album since ‘65, trying to find the right sound to carry the lyrics. As a lyricist, no one is better than Dylan, but he relied heavily on others to score his music, when he decided to go electric. Here’s a great article on the Making of Blonde on Blonde,
Of course, we can credit the Beatles for their memorable movies and animated features, which helped to promote their music on a larger scale.
Perhaps the only invalid opinions are those that are unsupported by reason
No. Just because someone is having trouble articulating an opinion does not make it invalid. It just makes it “to be continued” — i.e., postponed until articulated.
Ugh. “Reason” is not the be all and end all of “validity,” for God’s sake.
This idea that one can scientifically break down judgements (relating back to a “clean” idea) is ridiculous. People are emotional creatures too, and emotions are conveyed through expression and are therefore important to include in a justification of why a work of art works for someone (or not).
Honestly this line of thinking smacks of a false separation of faculties. Reason and emotion are both important to the success of a work of art, and cannot be separated in a response from a human being to a work of art.
@Odi: I agree, that’s why before stating that I recognized that certain opinions will in fact be subjective—just like with the highly impressionistic film I referenced, The Tree of Life.
I think when you respond to “reason” you’re taking me too literally. I don’t necessarily mean science or anything similar. I simply mean that in saying, for instance, that a film is manipulative of our emotions, can you support that with an argument?
Multiple arguments with varying conclusions can be valid and coexist. but it’s stupid to say something like Boondock Saints is a better work of art than Taxi Driver for absolutely no reason. That would be an invalid evaluation because it has no reasonable foundation, and thus is essentially arbitrary.
I understand that some people have a hard to examining why it was that they enjoyed a film, but know that they enjoyed it nonetheless. There’s nothing wrong with that but I’m not going to be interested in reading their reviews which would consist of statements such as “I liked this movie a lot.”
@Jazz: I’d also include opinions that really can’t be backed up by the film.
Exactly, that’s in the same strand of thought, I’d say.
There’s nothing wrong with that but I’m not going to be interested in reading their reviews which would consist of statements such as “I liked this movie a lot.”
Well yes, Jupiter, ha ha! For the purposes of enlightenment and knowledge, which a review should guide the reader to, that kind of review isn’t very helpful. :)
“Right (I think)—although I don’t think we need strict objectivity in order to have something more than subjectivity (if that makes sense).”
Well, as far as I can tell, I think it would be fair to say that the world is out there (objective), but descriptions of it, feelings about it, etc. are not (which makes them at least partly subjective), so, yeah, we’re more or less in agreement on this part of it .
“Dylan’s double LP Blonde and Blonde came out the same year as Sgt. Pepper, 1966. "
Revolver came out in ‘66, actually; *Sgt. Pepper’s* came out in June of ‘67. But, right, and of course Dylan was a contemporary influence on the Beatles as well. The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds (itself influenced by the Beatles’ Rubber Soul)—which was a big influence on McCartney, particular Brian Wilson’s bass playing—came out that same year as Revolver and Blonde on Blonde, and Pet Sounds was certainly influential for both the Beatles and the Stones.
Jupiter said, I think when you respond to “reason” you’re taking me too literally. I don’t necessarily mean science or anything similar. I simply mean that in saying, for instance, that a film is manipulative of our emotions, can you support that with an argument?
FWIW, I agree with this. When I talk about reasonable arguments, I don’t necessarily mean that the argument is based on formal logic or science. But a good argument uses examples from a film in a reasonable and compelling way; the commentary of the examples are sensible and even insightful. So when I say “reason” I don’t mean logic or science. I hope that’s a bit clearer.
My sense is that when people say, “opinions are subjective,” what they mean is that all opinions are equal—i.e., one isn’t “better”, “more valid,” etc. than another—it’s completely relative to the individual. The premise of this thought-experiment is to assume that this is true. The “world out there” (in this case, a film) is can mean anything to the individual. This is what I meant by “purely subjective.” If this is true, would there be value in talking about movies?
So . . . are you meaning let’s assume that everyone’s interpretation is completely self-generated and non-referential? It would pass the time while we’re waiting for Godot, I guess.
Matt, it is interesting how the Beach Boys have been overlooked. I guess most see them as a surfer band but their harmonies are fantastic, and Pet Sounds is a great, great album.
I think so. I’m not quite sure what “self-generated” and “non-referential” entail, though.
All opinions are equal, but some opinions are more equal than others.
I am assuming that if opinions were purely subjective, then they would be immune to influence—or at least the influence of opinions from other people. The number and type of films a person watched would certainly influence that person’s tastes in films, but—in a purely subjective world—I’m not sure the opinions of others would have that effect. Think back to my ice cream example. If I hate strawberry ice cream and love chocolate, what can someone say that will influence or change this preference? In a purely subjective world, I’m thinking that the opinions about movies would be like one’s taste for ice cream. Perhaps, that analogy is wrong or inappropriate in some way.
I’m also not suggesting that in a purely subjective world cinephiles have a superior experience to art (if that’s what you’re getting at; actually, I haven’t really thought of that question, but I don’t think it’s relevant to what I’m proposing).
I want to comment on your cyrillic poem example, but I’m not sure if I’m able to at this time. I will say that I think the issues you touch on are different from the premise of the thread—they seem more closely related to our ongoing discussion about intersubjectivity and judging art. From what I gather the example illustrates the subjective nature of evaluating and understanding art, but I don’t think I disagree with anything you’ve written, and I’m not sure what point you’re trying to make—or what idea of mine you’re opposing.
I assume you think my approach is something entirely impersonal—that the method I’ve tried to develop denies personal response. I’ve repeatedly tried to explain that this is not the case. My judgment of a film is personal—but not wholly personal—that is, some of personal preferences, tastes, interests—and the degree to which I feel them—may not be entirely appropriate when evaluating a specific film. The approach I’ve developed actually helps me determine this, but to characterize the final judgment using this approach as something impersonal would be inaccurate, imo. Furthermore, it is a judgment made by me—via my experience of the film.
This all seems very simple to me: good opinions are founded on intelligence, facts, and research. There is no either/or choice between “subjectivity” and “objectivity”. Opinions employ both. Tag Gallagher has an opinion of a film based on his brain and his facts. And they are better than mine because his brain is better and his facts are better.
Yeah, I basically agree with that.
But the premise of the thread is that this isn’t true. There’s no such thing as “good” or “bad” opinions. One’s opinion is as good as another—whether the person intelligently uses facts or not. Would there be value in talking about films in such a situation?
Yes. People could rejoice in discussing the film and how good/bad it was. I have just as fun a time talking about how, say, Star Wars is awesome as I do conversing with someone who disagrees. Yes, agreeing over everything would make it dull eventually, but it’s not unimaginable.
“Matt, it is interesting how the Beach Boys have been overlooked. I guess most see them as a surfer band but their harmonies are fantastic”
Right . . . they basically started out as ripping off Four Freshman harmonies and Chuck Berry riffs, but gradually developed into complex Phil Spector-inspired mono productions that incorporated numerous studio musicians and elaborately layered arrangments.
Pretty hard to form an opinion out of a vacuum, and yes a lot of folks tend to seek support to back up their opinions, otherwise their opinion is often dismissed. A lot of blogs today seem to be nothing more than support groups and woe be it to anyone who injects a counter-opinion or view, especially when it comes to politics. But, certain films have also garner fanatics over the years, that choose to live in their own parallel universe). Star Wars comes to mind. Ardent fans have formed an elaborate world of their own, based on repeated viewings of the films and identification with the characters. This to me is “subjectivity” taken to the extreme, as persons sublimate their emotions through screen characters.
But, when it comes to parsing out a film or a rock group, you can only challenge someone’s opinion on stated factual content . It doesn’t necessarily make that opinion wrong.
^“But, when it comes to parsing out a film or a rock group, you can only challenge someone’s opinion on stated factual content . It doesn’t necessarily make that opinion wrong.”
SPIN’s recent trollish 100 Greatest Guitarists Of All Time list come close as an example. Placing someone who doesn’t even play the guitar on that list may not be wrong, but definitely ridiculous.
Well, yea, these lists are compiled by god knows who, just as record sales charts today seem to be driven by 13-year olds.
Well, it isn’t hard to see where the problem lies given you’ve defined “pure subjectivity” in a way which not only renders art impossible, given the domain of art is perceptual influence, but language as impossible as well. So, if those are your constraints, rendering man as something akin to some simple animal or a protozoa, relying totally on instinct and physiological response, then, no, there would be no point or even possibility of discussing art.
Of course at that point one would question whether perception is “pure subjectivity” anymore as that sort of response system would be potentially measurable, were there someone around to could undertake the task, in which case it would be an objective response.