If The Dark Knight Rises taught me anything, it’s that no matter how flagrantly and embarrassingly you litter a narrative with plot holes and genuine ‘why on earth is any of this happening’ moments, there are always people who can’t see, understand, or accept the inconsistencies presented. Yes, as it has been shoved down my throat so many times, it’s JUST SO WONDERFUL that we live in a country where we can have differing opinions and the safety to express them. Unfortunately, wherever it is in our collective heads that says ‘right to free speech,’ is regretfully unaccompanied by an asterisk with the following footnote:
*With the responsibility to know what the hell it is you’re talking about.
Over the course of my years reading and writing, it’s extremely clear that lots of us really, really don’t know what the hell we’re talking about, and it’s completely understandable. Critical thinking isn’t just something that was on your ‘outcomes of this course’ at university, it’s not something we pick up on naturally; it’s learnt through experience and study. Learning to distinguish between a logical argument and a fallacious one, how to reach valid conclusions, and most importantly, how to critique, is an art. In the gaming world of barely literate commenters and people who would rather rage against the title of an article than read its contents, here’s a few things to help you understand how to … think.
How to identify a point: Mark is fat
No matter how hurtful the phrase ‘Mark is fat’ is, or makes me want to drown myself in pork, it’s a neutral statement. The way to make it a negative or positive statement is to surround it with clauses.
Mark is fat, which is awesome, because his love rolls make him super cuddly.
Mark is fat, which is terrible, because his sweat makes my car smell like egg and bacon farts.
So you have the fact (Mark is fat), how the observer feels about it (awesome/terrible) and how the observer justifies their feelings towards it. All points come in three’s: fact, reaction to fact, reason for reaction. Try it at home by yourself now!
How not to make a point: He’s the Batman
If there was one phrase during the Batman arguments that made me want to give myself a lobotomy with a machete made to the likeness of Sarah Jessica Parkers silhouette, it was ‘He’s the Batman.’
Batman doesn’t really exist. Between the army of writers, fan interpretation and directors vision, the idea that there exists a singular, agreed notion of what Batman actually is, is nothing short of laughable. Even if there was only one Bat and one interpretation, it still doesn’t magically absolve the films failure to make a coherent and flowing narrative. Saying that ‘He’s the Batman’ doesn’t do anything, in the same way me grabbing a girls arse and saying ‘It’s ok, I’m Mark,’ doesn’t make my action less of a sexual assault.
How to spot validity: It’s just a (insert half-arsed attempt to dismiss something here)
Another thing I kept seeing scattered around the place was ‘It’s only a superhero movie’ or ‘It’s only for entertainment purposes.’ Food is only ‘for eating purposes,’ but it can still taste terrible and depending on where you are, there are certain levels of expectations that you think should be met.
‘I’ve got you now, you devilishly handsome yet just-proven-wrong man!’ I can hear already. ‘Saying you had expectations means that you held the movie up to a higher standard, and thus have criticised it more harshly!’
…and? When my McDonalds tastes like dirt (and it always does), I don’t complain because it’s sold as dirt; it’s not going to get better because it doesn’t ever try or want to be.
A restaurant, on the other hand, will normally have standards. If you had an amazing steak in one place, ordered it again and it tasted like a sweaty armpit, you would headbutt the person next to you right in the breasticles if they said ‘oh it’s just for eating purposes.’
OF COURSE IT’S FOR EATING PURPOSES, BUT THAT DOESN’T MEAN IT SHOULDN’T TASTE GOOD.
Dismissing something based on what you thought it should provide as a medium or genre is just insulting. It’s basically saying that I:
- Should just shut up and take it as it is without questioning
- Have somehow failed to recognise what the movie was trying to achieve in terms of quality; or
- Will just have to accept that the things I like aren’t capable of achieving greatness, and thus shouldn’t have their qualities or deficiencies recognised
The reason that this statement is beyond asinine is that it can be used anywhere and for any reason:
‘Well, it’s only your left nut we’ll be removing’
‘Well, it was only a dog’
‘Well, it was only money’
‘Well, it’s only stage four leukaemia’
Your level of interest, or involvement, or investment, will change on how much importance you place on something. If it’s ‘just a silly action hero movie’ to you, then why do you bother talking about it at all?
Imagine your opinions are a currency, being broke makes you a moron, and the only way to get money is carefully thinking over the merits of your argument.
Till next time!