Not long ago, not every movie that was released into theaters faced some kind of backlash for everything it did, but that is not the case under the current film “criticism” landscape. The only two options of how you are able to feel about any given movie is love it or hate it. It seems like forming nuanced arguments that go beyond something being perfect or dangerous to the senses are an outdated technique.
The release of a new “Star Wars” film feels like the right time to approach the general lack of critical thinking that goes into a lot of film discussions on social media and in comment sections across the internet. Granted, these were never really hubs for great intellectual debate in the first place, but I would argue that things have never been so divisive on the topic of movies. “The Rise of Skywalker,” like “The Last Jedi” before that and the prequels before that, has caused mass hysteria.
To be clear, I’m not a big fan of some things that happened in “The Rise of Skywalker,” but you won’t soon be hearing me call it one of the worst movies of the year or completely devoid of anything good or something that marked my childhood worthless. This is the same hyperbolic nonsense we hear about every “Star Wars” movie that gets released.
On the other end, you’ll hear “The Rise of Skywalker” get praised at the expense of the series’ other entries. Comparing and contrasting is fine by me and a pastime I think is helpful, but we shouldn’t instantly know where a movie ranks on a list the second we leave the theater. Instead of thinking of what worked and what didn’t, many people seem to rush right to judgment in this regard. It’s almost as if they made their mind up before they even saw the movie. What’s more, it is very often used as a tactic to shame another work, in this case “The Last Jedi.”
Unfortunately, this is not a phenomenon that is limited to “Star Wars.” While all art is subjective and anyone can love or hate whatever they want, I think film discussions would be a lot more productive if we took some time to remember the numbers that fall between 1 and 10. Sometimes a movie is a 5/10, just okay and completely average. And you know what? You aren’t lazy if you take some time and come to a middle-ground conclusion. In fact, you probably put more effort and thought into your opinion than the loudest voice with the most clear-cut takeaway.
Sam Zavada is a copy editor with The Standard-Speaker in Hazleton. He previously served as the news clerk at The Standard-Speaker, working with the obituaries and the community and lifestyle pages. Sam’s work in print dates back to his time at King’s College, where he spent two years as the editor in chief of the school’s newspaper, The Crown. Earlier in his time with The Crown, he worked as a staff writer and the entertainment manager. Contact him at email@example.com.