Friday, May 22, 2015

How do I Review a Story?

   The pain of writing a weekly blog is forcing oneself to put out content week after week. There are weeks I just don't feel it. And then there are weeks that I want to write something, but I don't really know what to write. So I'm just going to write what's on my mind. Today, that is reviewing things.
    Why is that on my mind? Well, it's been on my mind because of several podcasts I listen to. One of them is The Scifi Christian. One of its main focuses is searching for utmost quality in television, books, movies, or whatever content they are reviewing. They demand top quality of their entertainment, because why should we settle for anything less?
   Another is Reel World Theology. They are convinced that entertainment is not mindless, and that we need to be aware of what themes and ideas entertainment presents. They are concerned about quality and entertainment level, but their focus is on the ideas that films present.
   The final podcast is Geek Out Loud. This podcast focuses on how fun entertainment is. The guy who runs it, Steve Glosson, is interested in quality and ideas, but he really just wants to have fun talking about books, movies, and TV.
   So as I listen to this variety of podcast, I constantly have these ideas jostling around my brain. And my problem, which is probably specific to me, is that if anyone disagrees with me I have to prove, 100%, why I'm right. Even if I don't tell anyone else, I have to put up a reasonable basis for why I think something about a certain book or movie or what-have-you. Now I have these three ways of looking at entertainment floating around in my brain and I don't know how to think.
   And it's difficult, because I watch movies and I read books and I have to decide what I think about them. I write book reviews here and over at Into the Book (I just started a month or so ago), and I am faced with the difficulty of how to review. Do I give a book five stars because it has good ideas? Do I flunk it because the writing is terrible? Do I hate it because it's boring? These are things I have to work out in my own head, and I must admit I don't know if I'll ever get it right. I've changed my way of thinking so many times you might as well call me... well, something that's confused. So as I continue on this journey of self-discovery, I've decided to write up a few ways of how I currently look at stories.

1. Quality is Not Everything
   A film can be made very well, and still not be to me. Just because the story is well written doesn't mean I have to like it. And that's okay. Even if I'm the only one that doesn't like it, it's okay for me to be different. Take, for instance, Breaking Bad. Lots of people loved it. I watched two seasons and didn't care for it. I thought the writing was good, the cinematography was good. Yet, the characters and the situations didn't interest me. And that's okay. Maybe I'll dig into that in a later post.

2. Good Ideas Aren't Everything
   I've gone on record saying I like the Star Wars Prequels. I think the story is interesting, the characters present interesting ideas, and the themes are important for people to think about. And yet, that doesn't mean they are perfect movies. The acting, the script-writing, the dialogue delivery... there's issues. That doesn't negate the good, but it must be recognized.

3. It's Okay to Enjoy a Story
   I'm not sure where I got this idea. I guess it's because classics are so boring that I thought the only good entertainment should be boring. It made me feel guilty to enjoy a movie or a book because I thought, "This isn't want I should be focused on!" Yet, in the end, it is entertainment and should, in some form or another, entertain us. That way, even if it is pointless, I got some joy out of it.

4. It's Okay to be Different
   I kind of touched on this in the first point, but I must continually remind myself of this. I think some guy summed it up pretty well in a tweet.

   What do you think? How do you think about stories? Tell me below in the comment section or tweet me @jesseorice.

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