A Question of Perspective

There are some musings on cultural norms and their “evolution” at the hands of new media that will be posted soon (thanks to reader Damon for the idea), but I had this one on deck and wanted to clear it before I got there.

Recently, I wrote my honest reviews of the Star Wars films. They were unfiltered, and since I didn’t have the time or the inclination to make them 2000 page articles, I hit the major points and gave an unvarnished opinion of what worked, what didn’t and what I thought overall.

Naturally it elicited some reaction. Some response was snarky. Some response was positive. None of it, honestly, was surprising. People have opinions, and I take pride in the fact that my friends not only have world views and experiences different from mine – sometimes substantially depending on the topic – but the fact that we’re all comfortable enough to discuss them with some degree of rationality.

And Then There’s Tony (And We All Love Tony!)

The most predictably passive-aggressive and quarrelsome comment came from frequent commenter, sometime-stalker and favorite apoplectic target, Tony, who said:

These are not objective, not by a long shot, but that’s okay.

I addressed him in the comments thus:

Think of it this way: I’m not giving it a positive review because I’m a fan, I’m a fan because I can honestly give it a positive review.

However, it did spur the thought, is it possible to be completely objective with anything?

Honesty is Such a Lonely Word

Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman
What am I supposed to do? Have the golden lasso of truth around me every time I speak? If I give you my word, then it's good enough.
I’ve gotten into arguments with dear friends before about the fact that I choose not to lie.

I used to justify little white lies, to cover my ass at work. Tiny fibs to dodge a screw up. Giant whoppers to get away with methodically going through my older brother’s comic book collection, record albums and wallet (I stopped the wallet stuff).

Well, let’s just say I’ve had an epiphany where I just realized how far away even a little white lie put me from the person I want to be. I talked it over with God and realized that a dishonest man is not just the man I want to be for myself, but my children. The example I lay out for them is the example from which they’ll learn.

So, like a Vulcan, I choose not to lie. It’s a choice, and it’s a hard one. I’m not perfect, of course. When I was looking for a new job, I suspiciously had more frequent…doctor’s visits…and issues with my car. But I’ve handled all that, and while I can’t promise I won’t fail or equivocate again, I can promise that I’m always doing my best not to tell a fib. My honesty has even cost me relationships along the way, with people that I wish on an emotional level could have stayed a part of my life.

What’s the point of saying all that? That I’m honest, buddy. To the extreme. I’ve got some people that happily will testify that I’m one of the most honest people they know; of course, you’d have to take them at their word.

And that’s my seal of authenticity when I say I dig Jar Jar Binks but the editing on Episode I was out of hand. It’s how you know I’m speaking from the heart when I say that I don’t trust a straight-up popular vote for President and frankly, think it’s what’s ruined the efficacy of the U.S. Senate.

It’s how you know I’m not kidding when I say that I could listen to the song Jive Talkin’ every day for the rest of my life and never get sick of it.

Troubling Objectivity

I bring up honesty because objectivity folds into it.

Tombstone Poster
I quoted Doc Holliday just for an excuse to put this poster on here. And I found out this only has a 7.7 on IMDB. What the Hell is wrong with everyone? This film is virtually perfect.
Was I completely objective in the reviews of the films? Yes, as objective as anyone can be. Just because I’m more reserved in the way I deliver my criticisms doesn’t mean they aren’t criticisms. I just don’t see any point in getting worked up, unless it’s for comic effect. I’ve been known to go into the ‘Denis Leary’-esque rant from time to time just because I like to make people chuckle and because I’m an attention whore.

If anything, I think that I was fair and pointed out everything that irritated me about all six.

Of course, there may be the typical accusation in the comments section that I’m just somehow unaware of my inability to be objective. All I can say is, I don’t hold any opinion unless it’s an honest one.

If you’re going to go so far as to insinuate that I’m being disingenuous somehow, simply because my opinion doesn’t agree with yours, well then good day to you. You’re arguing at an authentic Keith Olbermann level and at that point are no longer trying to debate but pick a fight, and what’s the use in that?

If we disagree, we disagree. It does not mean that I’m lying to you, nor to myself. As a wise character once said, “My hypocrisy goes only so far.”

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10 thoughts on “A Question of Perspective

  1. Since this entire post was a re-hashing of your comment to me, I won’t go into a long, drawn-out discussion (which I KNOW you are hoping for).

    Others will see the flaws that you will overlook. That’s not to say it’s a bad thing, but it limits your ability to be truly objective. Not questioning your honesty with me, others, or yourself at all. But your perspective just may be a few degrees off.

    No need for a fanboy-esque defense of your opinion. Sheesh. And you describe me as apoplectic… :o)

    1. 1. No, actually I’d be more interested in discussing the points in the blog, not having to deconstruct more of your insensate rantings. 🙂

      2. The passive aggressive comment you made was a jumping off point only.
      “However, it did spur the thought, is it possible to be completely objective with anything?”
      After that point, I’m actually done with you. I would also say that the comment from Tom, “I admire your loyalty” and all its subtextual intonation was just as much a spur for this blog as anything you said.

      3. Your overall argument is still weak and circular. To wit, that because I don’t hold your opinions, my perspective is flawed. It’s a bit supercilious, honestly, since we’re not discussing something with hard data involved. Your proof that my conclusion is flawed is that I don’t reach your conclusion. Perhaps I don’t agree that what you think are flaws, are flaws. That does not therefore mean I’m not being objective or fair, it simply means we have a different opinion about a piece of art.

  2. The Academy’s tradition notwithstanding, there is a reason that these movies did not win awards for anything except technical merit.

    But, you are correct (and no one will be able to tell you otherwise), that your deep belief about the near-perfection of Star Wars films is unassailable, if only because of the subjective nature of what constitutes “art” (a total other discussion, as you well know). Whatever gets you through the daily grind.

    Just thought that I’d mention that your objectivity in offering a review of the films is pretty well shot from the git-go.

    That, and wonder when I need to start paying rent for being in your head.

    1. 1. There are a lot of movies, some better and some worse, that got/get even less recognition from AMPAAS.

      2. I wonder if you actually read the reviews, or skimmed them. I just didn’t make your criticisms, and that rankles you.

      3. Your reasoning is flawed. Again, I remained a fan because I honestly enjoyed the films. It’s not like I would have been the only fan to ‘divorce’ the series when the prequels came out. I’m not a Trekkie, for goodness’ sake.

      4. The problem with your reasoning is that if someone does not reach the same conclusion as you, it’s because their ability to look at it objectively is not as ‘superior’ as yours. Did you regularly yell this during Siskel & Ebert episodes?

      5. You made one of several comments that spurred the blog. You could have posted anonymously and it would have been the same. I’m still trying to figure why you don’t have a problem being labeled a frequent commenter, sometime-stalker and favorite apoplectic target. That’s got me a little worried.

      🙂

      One other thing – I pick on you largely because a) you make yourself a target and b) it amuses my friend Warren to no end.

  3. In a world ruled by opinions, you are not only attempting to apply absolutes, but are seeing others as doing the same, John.

    All I’m saying, and you are refusing to acknowledge, is that your objectivity is shot. Not because I may or may not disagree with what you have said, but because it is true. It’s not a bad thing, but somewhat distressing that you don’t seem to even recognize it.

    And as for your point 5 (really, that’s getting to be a little OCD with you), I would comment, but what’s the point? Your view of reality seems to have me playing the role of X the Eliminator to your Harvey Birdman. If that keeps you level and grounded, who am I to take that away from you? There are some bubbles I just won’t burst.

    1. I agree, I’m a scamp. Fortunately for you, I’m also patient. But honestly, you’re more like the Monarch to my Dr. Venture.

      I still contend that you’ve failed to actually read and digest the reviews. To repeat, I don’t give a more positive review than you do because I’m a fan (which is your implication). I didn’t say you weren’t entitled to your opinions, nor that my conclusions were absolute.

      Extend this to political opinion. I have a friend who, on 90% of the issues, is diametrically opposed to my own. We have the same set of data. Both of us are objective in our assessment; say it’s Health Care.

      Our criteria, however, may differ. This is what makes it subjective. To extend the political analogy, if I’m an Objectivist (I’m not) and he’s a Socialist (he might be), our criteria for judging the situation is different.

      We arrive at radically different conclusions, but we both still gave an objective/honest opinion. To extend it even further, you’re Sean Hannity, running in and shouting about the semantics of our answers as we try to explain.

  4. You are reading WAY too much into this, John. My opinion don’t enter into it. You lack objectivity. That’s all I’m saying.

    You want to make this something more, when there’s nothing more there. Relax already. Sheesh.

    1. Oh, I’m calm as a Hindu cow. Your failure to address the point results in a “surrender,” meaning I win.

      So, I’m batting a thousand. I wonder when you’ll tire of being continually beaten with simple logic.

  5. Oh, and if we are going Venture Brothers, it’s at LEAST a Brock/21 kind of relationship. I’ll let you sort out who is who.

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