Lately, I’ve been running into a lot of problems with the Movie Prejudice Dilemma. The MPD is an ideological conflict of an artistic nature; one which locks the cold hand of pragmatism in a battle to the death with the forces of creative integrity, complicated by a number of conflicting goals in both categories.
Now, ideologically, nothing, least of all a piece of artwork, should be judged without first experiencing it. I think we can all agree that making a decision on the whole of an entity based solely on limited information about one or a few of its parts is both logically unsound and a violation of one’s own integrity. Indeed, to do so is to engage in the very definition of prejudice. When it comes to art, a bit of discrimination can occasionally be prudent; prejudice, never so. Ergo, ideologically, if you wish to judge a movie, you should see the movie first. Agreed?
The thing is, some movies are probably going to suck. You know them when you see them. They’re the ones you see the previews for in the theaters, grimace, hang your head in your hands, and reflect for a moment on what must be the sad state of the human condition for such tripe to be allowed to exist. A few relatively recent examples where I’ve experienced this have been “Resident Evil: Apocalype”, “Stuck On You”, “2 Fast 2 Furious”, “The Spongebob Squarepants Movie”, “The Seed of Chucky”, etc. YM, of course, MV as to your specific tastes.
This is where we begin to get into trouble. Let’s start on the most basic level: money. Seeing a movie costs money; anywhere from $5-$10 for a first-run ticket. For most of us, paying that much to see a movie that ends up sucking feels just like throwing that same amount of cash down the drain, with the exception that the drain option wastes far less time. Therefore, most of us would prefer to avoid going to see movies that suck. The problem is, according to the above, we cannot rightfully make a judgement on relative suckiness level without first seeing the movie. Can’t judge movie without seeing it, don’t want to see movie without first having judged it to be worth the time and money. That’s our first catch-22 right there.
Having explored that, let’s move up the scale a bit, and consider marketing. Hollywood studios, by and large, produce movies in order to make money. If a movie makes money, they take note of that, and proceed to make more movies in a similar vein. Ideally, we, the moviegoing public, would like Hollywood to make movies that do not suck, while limiting the number of movies that do suck. The way to do this would be to avoid going to see movies that suck, thus ensuring that they don’t make any money. The problem, yet again, is that we cannot make an honest judgement on the suckiness of the movie until we’ve already seen it. If we go to see movies that suck in addition to the good ones, Hollywood will take note that both types of movies can make money. And, as Hollywood producers well know, it is more difficult to make a good movie than a movie that sucks. Therefore, Hollywood will begin to make movies that suck their primary output. To Hollywood, this seems like a win-win situation. To us, it seems like all we ever get from that point out is a bunch of movies that suck. I’m sure you can draw the line here from the hypothetical to the case-in-point…it’s really not that much of a stretch.
So, the question becomes: do we prejudge movies based on the limited information given in previews, advertisements, and critical reviews – thereby accomplishing our pragmatic goals, but standing on shaky ideological ground, and perhaps missing a hidden gem or two by discarding them with the riffraff – or do we instead give every movie a fair shake, seeing it for ourselves that we may judge it on the fullness of its merit, while simultaneously wasting our money and encouraging Hollywood to heap upon us vast quantities of odious shit?
How do you resolve the Movie Prejudice Dilemma? Discuss, discuss!