23 June 2009

Why I Don't Use a Ratings System

Lots of movie review sites and blogs and books and TV shows use some kind of ratings system to indicate how good they think the movie is. I have nothing against ratings per-se, in some cases I think it is a good idea, and I sometimes rely on ratings (particularly the stars on IMDB) to make decisions.

But, why don't I use a rating system?*
This is a question I have been asked since I started writing shitty reviews of shitty movies in 1996.
The simple answer is that I don't want to, no, I refuse to categorize all the fun, cool, stupid, offensive, disgusting, arousing or thought provoking stuff in any given movie into some kind of objective, sterile series of thumb or star calculations.
My goal is to write a review that conveys some of my fascination and entertainment, some of my thought process while I watch a movie. To me, films are above all descriptive and I want my account of a given film to be the same, to give some idea of the feeling a movie gives me, the grimyness, the saccharine the self-hate. Often this is something that the director or scriptwriter never intended, and by giving a rating I would be avoiding the descriptive process. Not the least because I suspect people (myself included) give a rating more weight than a descriptive synopsis.
Subsequently my goal is to encourage people to watch movies, to seek out films that sound interesting, and by rating I'm afraid I will encourage them to rely on someone else's judgment in choosing film.
In essence I want films to speak for themselves, and people to think for themselves.

*I do use a label, "terrible" which might be considered an extremely abridged rating, but I consider some films I've labeled terrible to also be "favorites", so again, this defies the definition of true ratings systems and I feel absolved.

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