This is a blog that springs forth from a recent disagreement I had with a friend about a movie. As I continued to hang onto what didn’t work for me about a specific part of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, he challenged me by asking what I would have done differently.
It kind of got my dander up this time. I’m no stranger to movie conversations, even spirited ones where we discuss what works and what doesn’t. (Please accept the usual disclaimer,”for me,” that is obligated to be inserted.)
My response was, I wasn’t obligated to have an answer for that. As I thought about it, one of my trademark clumsy analogies formed and so I wanted to share it with you.
Like Hamburgers for Movies
When I go someplace to get a hamburger, I’m not thinking much about the cooking process. Heck, I’m trying not to think of the kitchen in some cases. I’m not even thinking of the environmental impact of eating beef.
This doesn’t mean I’m ignorant of how to make a hamburger. I know the process on a fundamental level, and have opinions about how well the meat should be cooked, and even can offer opinions on what I think works best for complementary flavoring if you’re going to be putting novel toppings on it.
I’ve been proven wrong about my presumptions on that front, but we can come back to that as a point at another time. Keeping with this clumsy narrative, sometimes trying a new recipe you don’t think will work can surprise you.
When the hamburger is served, I eat it. Unless it’s terrible beyond words, I finish it.
As an important qualifier, I don’t know that I’ve ever encountered a hamburger that was so terrible I didn’t finish it, and I ate at a place one time that was shut down by the health department a month later. (I’m fine, thanks for asking.)
(I don’t mention the chain’s vaguely Scottish-sounding name because it was a single franchise store, it was many years ago, and nothing bad happened to me. My friend lifted his cheeseburger and saw a bite taken out of the cheese, thought. Not the burger, mind you. Someone had taken a bite out of the cheese, sometime prior to the cooking, and then placed it on the burger. The cheese was actually a little stale and stiff, too, so the cheese was old on top of having had bite taken out of it. I didn’t see it until after I’d finished my signature burger that had “Thousand Island dressing” on it passed off as a secret sauce. Had I seen it prior, that is a hamburger I’d have not finished. But, again, I was fine and am fine.)
I mean, it’s possible that I’ve left a hamburger unfinished somewhere along the way. This is where this whole “Hamburger Analogy” could wear a little thing, since even bad hamburgers are more palatable than some of the bad movies I’ve seen.
Where I Am Going with This
In the times when I’ve encountered hamburgers displeasing to my palate, I’ve been known to express that opinion. I’ve been known to use a whole range of words both proper and foul.
Never have I been encountered with the reflexive response of, “Well then how would you make it?”
Most of the time, when I offer opinions about what doesn’t work on a hamburger, it’s taken at face value. Others do the same, and I agree or disagree. Sometimes discussions can spring forward from there. Like anyone else, I’ve had specific complaints about anything from the number of pickle slices, the quality of the tomato or lettuce, the balance of mayonnaise, how thoroughly cooked the meat was, ranging through any number of variables. I’ve even been known simply to dislike it but not name any specific culprit in the experience outside of, “I don’t know, it just didn’t come together right.”
But sometimes, it’s just that the recipe doesn’t work. Even though the hamburger isn’t great, there’s nothing that could really have made it so without going back to the first stages of its making and start over.
The point is, no one ever says to me, “Well how would you cook it?”
The Spark of Conflict
It’s good they never ask that, because it’s not my job to be the cook. As a consumer, I have every right to be a critic, regardless if I have specific suggestions. I might just think that no matter what they did, the hamburger wouldn’t measure up.
Someone else might love a recipe that I hate. There are people who like listening to people chew food. Heck, some people, whom I suspect of being lizard people sent to conquer Earth and enslave us all to make substandard electronics for their war efforts, like olives on their ice cream.
While that seems well and good for hamburgers, it doesn’t seem to translate to certain other things, like movies. The spark of conflict happens when the other person is emotionally invested in defending their stance. It moves out of the realm of intellectual exercise and into the realm of emotional reflex.
That’s fine! I’m not dragging anyone so long as they admit that sometimes, emotion outweighs logic. Love lets you overlook flaws. As gauche as it might be to admit, we’re not Vulcans. I know that the social media crowd wants us to live like THX-1138, but emotions are in the mix and should be recognized.
I like to think I’m honest about flaws in movies, even when I love them. And I know I’m honest about hamburgers.
And if you don’t like one of those things that I do, that’s fine, too. We’re still good.
Just don’t ask me to cook for you.