Subjectivity Versus Objectivity in Ratings – How Does One Balance?

Photo by Pixabay on

Recently, my interest in anime has spawned yet another hobby:  Movies.  I used to be rather disinterested in movies, but after watching most Studio Ghibli films and all of Satoshi Kon’s work, I have fallen in love with film as a storytelling medium.  This led me to creating a Letterboxd account so I can keep track of what I’ve watched, as well as jot down some reviews along the way.  Ultimately, due to wanting a clean slate, outside of movies that I previously rated on other websites, like MyAnimeList, I am not rating any other films that I have watched in the past.

This gives me a unique opportunity to rewatch all of my favorite movies in the coming months for the purpose of giving them ratings, but it also brings up an interesting point in my head:  Are my favorite movies all inherently worthy of being five-star watches just because they are my favorites?  How much subjectivity versus objectivity should go into my media ratings?

My favorite movies are the ones I love the most.  They comfort me on a bad day and I am going to choose them whenever I can’t find something else.  That said, no matter how much I may love Bring it On, does it really deserve to have the same five-star rating that Millennium Actress has?  I certainly wouldn’t be discussing these two movies in the same sentence in any other context apart from this specific topic, and I have no doubt that there is a difference in the overall quality between the two films.

On the other hand, I like the idea of all of my favorites being clearly displayed with a five star rating.  Anyone who wants to know my exact taste in movies need only sort by highest rated to understand exactly what I like and dislike. How do I navigate this dilemma?

This is a question that has plagued me for ages across every form of media I consume.  Even back when I first started a Goodreads account, I often would agonize over whether I was “allowed” to give a book that wasn’t very good four or five stars if it made me happy on a personal level.  I believe this is also why finding critics in the media you consume is sometimes tricky, as it can be difficult to find someone who shares not just a similar overall taste, but also the same belief in the right balance between subjectivity and objectivity that you do as a consumer.

I wanted to ponder this for a bit in my post, but I also don’t want to leave anyone without an answer regarding my own personal thoughts on reviews:  I try to weigh both subjectivity and objectivity, but at the end of the day, these reviews are a reflection of me and I tend to lean more toward a subjective score.  I won’t give a piece of media that is objectively masterful a 1/5 star rating, but if I absolutely hated it, I might give it a 2 or 3.  This probably isn’t the answer everyone wants, and I completely understand that, but I want to make sure everyone is aware of the way I rate going forward.

What are your overall opinions regarding review scores?  Let me know in the comments below.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s