On “Objective” Reviews and the Importance of Being Earnest

"Let me tell you why your opinions are objectively wrong, good sir."
“Let me tell you why your opinions are objectively wrong, good sir.”

An appeal to objectivity is something that everyone has probably encountered at some stage. The word tends to get bandied around in art criticism when someone voices an unpopular opinion, usually a negative one. It’s silly, because you wouldn’t think there’s any objectivity to be found in something as nebulous as art, but it’s still a popular way of thinking (especially with the TrueAnime crowd).

Objectivity is a dangerous word.

Why? Because despite being ill-defined in most conversations, the word ‘objectivity’ still has power. It implies balanced, rational thinking. If you appeal to objectivity, it makes your position sound more credible, even if it isn’t.

You see this sort of thinking everywhere, not just with art criticism. “Objective” can be shorthand for presenting multiple sides of an issue with equal weight (often a fallacy). Other times, it’s shorthand for appealing to the majority opinion. And most of the time it implies “without emotion”, which just means erasing your more obvious biases while assuming your subconscious bias is the default way of looking at the world.

I touched on this before in my Aldnoah post about rationality, but it’s a really unempathetic worldview because it’s so self-validating. More recently, Guy wrote a post about how “objectivity” relates to fandom – you don’t want an objective review, you want your opinion parroted. I chased him up to clarify some of the points he wrote about in his article.

Ask Guy-sensei!
Ask Guy-sensei!

1) Opening Salvos:

Froggy: You’ve written posts on similar topics before. What’s the common thread?

Guy: Tribalism and fandom. Yes, if there’s one thread woven throughout all my editorials of recent years, it’s breaking down why tribalism is bad.

Why over-identification is bad.

Froggy: It’s similar to religious cults in that sense. It also reminds me of the whole “don’t bring in politics into reviewing” mode of thought.

Guy: Hm. Everything’s political. “Don’t bring politics into it” usually means “Don’t challenge the status quo”/ As if the status quo isn’t political. Also, as my post states, the problem with “appeal to objectivity” is that it’s not objectivity, it’s “What I think is right”, which is tied to the above.

Look closely at who usually champions “appeals to objectivity”; It’s young men, who think what they think is somehow not subjective. In other words, people too busy to tell everyone else how much their shit stinks to not notice they shit too ;)

2) Different Fields, Different Meanings?

Froggy: What’s the difference when these clueless young men do it and when academics and journalists do it?

Guy: Journalists aren’t in the same position as academics, in this sense. Though sometimes they are.

When journalists speak of “objectivity” there are, well, three things they might reference, all of which get conflated.

The first is when they think they present matters “as are”, but it’s through their cultural biases, so they’re using it wrong, like people who want objective game reviews.

The second is when they DO just present to you things as are, such as tallies, rain amounts, etc. But still, what you focus on, even if everything you say is objectively true, is affected by biases.

What journalists usually mean by “objectivity” is “we present both sides”. That’s not really objective, but it’s there to show it’s “cancelled subjectivity”, as it were.

"Objective" reporting is how anti-vaccine rhetoric spreads, for instance
“Objective” reporting is how anti-vaccine rhetoric gains a platform, for instance













Academics, well, again, there are a few things, some of which are tied to what journalists purportedly do, what the young people say, which is false.

The first thing is, “We present opinions other than our own,” such as when you present an article giving an “overview” of a topic. How “History papers” are “objective”. But it’s, well, not true.

That’s something discussed more since the 60s; There’s no such thing as objectivity here. There are merely attempts to control for it. As years go by, people don’t try to be objective, because they know they can’t, in academia, but rather tell you beforehand what their biases are, and try to consciously account for it.

Academia as a whole is considered “objective” in the same sense of “both sides”, that the biases of one side are accounted for by the other. But two subjective accounts do not an objective one make. And the last account is, again, when they supposedly give an account of how things are, which academia sometimes does do, such as in chemistry and physics, and that’s literally objectively true, as far as we know, in the sense it’s not subjective ;)

But, even in academia, the “myth of objectivity” is quickly being shooed away. Yes, fields such as economics keep saying how objective they are, while sociology and cultural studies keep shaking their heads and showing how they’re not.

3) Self Blindness:

Froggy: I think that’s the reason I find economic history more interesting, because those within that field realise that very fact. Historians are always in disagreement with each other; the only “objective” history I know of is the one taught in schools, which is always heavily filtered through nationalist lenses.

Guy: One of the problems with the so-called “objectivity of history” is that, as the saying goes, “The victors write history”, the truth is, “Historians create history.” Well, most fields have “Philosophy of X” and more recently, “Sociology of X”.

Art is an interesting instance in this case, look at philosophy of aesthetics.

One of the definitions they provide for art is literally, “What the art world decides is art.” People can accept it in art, but it’s true for most fields.

"Cum Painting" by Andy Warhol is definitely art. Definitely.
“Cum Painting” by Andy Warhol is art. Definitely not masturbation.

















You can appreciate something on its artistic qualities, without regard to how it emotionally affected you. I appreciate some anime shows without caring for them, or don’t appreciate them though I care for them, but it’s still filtered through biases.

But there are sometimes objective qualities. It’s not like, “If I say it’s good, it’s good.” Even if sometimes “objective qualities” means “agreed upon by most people,” which is why LNs are objectively bad, because most people, when reading an LN and reading actual fiction and asked which is better, will say the same thing.

Froggy: That’s what I think “objective” is shorthand for.

Guy: And the “Art world” will say the same thing. But sometimes people push politics into it, as an attempt to push out so-called “politics”, where they translate “most people” to “shouting harder” combined with, “moral right of way”.

4) What do People Mean – Morality?

Guy: LNs are worse than books, but you won’t say it’s immoral to read them, right?

But you should. According to Socrates, even. Because you’re wasting your time, time you could spend bettering yourself :P Likewise, if a video game is objectively good. To give it a bad score is to lead people astray. It’s immoral to denigrate something that is objectively good. And thus, the tables are flipped.

I toched on it once on my blog, about morality:

If you find something moral, you have a moral obligation to encourage it. If you find something immoral, you have a moral obligation to discourage it. You can say, “He likes ice cream, I don’t, but it’s alright.” You cannot say “He likes ice cream, which I find immoral, but it’s alright.”

And that’s how it all comes falling down, how all the pieces fit together, because people who speak of “objectivity” do two more things:

  1. 1. They think said objectivity is moral.
  2. 2. They think morality is objective.


5) Morality into Rationality:

Froggy: So… circular logic?

Guy: Circular logic is not always a fallacy, in this sense.

That’s not circular logic either. I’m explaining how it drives them to action: They can accept it’s beliefs, rather than logic.But those two beliefs, which are complementary, rather than circular, lead them on their crusades. “I believe objective truths exist” is the third belief.

“Down with those SAO-loving heathens!”


It’s not circular, you can find the root.

The point is this, they believe this is the one true morality, and they also think objectivity is moral, which means that peddling subjectivity is immoral. And it falls to them to stop it. As it falls to any of us to stop what we find immoral.

Froggy: “If only everyone thought as rationally as I did, there’d be world peace!”

Guy: Yes.

That’s the thing most of these people have the hardest time with, a tough concept, even in philosophy, called “Rational disagreement,” where both of us believe in the same facts, but disagree on the conclusion. Take abortion for instance. If we disagree on when the child develops consciousness, or whether God mandated anything on the matter, it’s not rational disagreement. But what if we both agreed when the child developed consciousness, and that God said nothing on the topic, and are still split on the issue?

You can see it in most fora discussion on anime too: “If only you saw all the issues with X, you wouldn’t think it’s a good show.” (Let’s put aside “like”, most non-terrible people can agree you can like something even if you see its flaws.) And then you can tell people, “No, I know all that is wrong with it, and I still like it.” – But it might not be true rational disagreement, because we assign different weight to different things. Such as me valuing characters more and you valuing world-building more, etc.

But yes, many people assume, even if they never think of it, that if you hold the same values as they, you will definitely agree with their conclusions. And of course, what better values to hold than the objective ones?











So Guy has established that appealing to “objectivity” is a short-sighted thing to do. How, then, are people supposed to overcome their natural biases and agree on things? Is the correct answer to every argument ever “Yeah, well, that’s just, like, your opinion, man“?

No. That’s where empathy comes in.

“Objectivity” is appealing because it’s an individualist way of thinking. While on the surface it might seem like you’re deferring to an external body of knowledge, the individual makes this judgement on the behalf of others. Improve yourself and your awareness of cognitive biases and you can claim to be more objective. This type of thinking doesn’t permit you to trust others. You can only trust your own judgement. Little wonder that this way of thinking is popular among libertarians and self-styled Objectivists.

Human knowledge isn’t an individual endeavour, though. Knowledge is accumulated through mass collaboration over many, many years. In order to absorb new ideas, you need to engage with people very different from yourself. In other words, you can’t just rely on your own judgement. This is one of the reasons why peer review is such a necessary part of academia.

Nobody can claim to speak the absolute truth. This does not matter. Empathising with a different point of view does not mean accepting it as fact. By listening to more diverse voices, you won’t erase your personal bias, but you can mitigate it somewhat.

The most important step, then, is to listen earnestly.

Reviews aren’t objective. Good reviews don’t even attempt that. But they do attempt to justify a particular subjective interpretation by pointing to evidence. It’s quite normal to understand where a critic is coming from but not to agree with their conclusion. This doesn’t mean they’ve somehow failed, though.

Also, a critic’s opinion isn’t superior to that of an ordinary fan’s. Critics are fans, for the most part. But critics do attempt to spell out their reasoning process clearly, and that’s why their opinions are more useful than unjustified assertions. Note the difference between “useful” and “objective”.

Aspire to be critical and earnest. These are better goals than objectivity.


  1. Aspire to be critical and earnest. These are better goals than objectivity.

    Yeah, well, that’s just, like, your opinion, man.

    :P (The sad thing is, that’s basically what many of the responses amount to.)

    • Also, because “Further thought” is always good, and to exemplify some of the points, and to show how alongside “Everything’s political,” the saying, “Everything’s got to do with morality” is also true.

      Is this post about morality? Is this post itself a moral act? Of course it is. Is it here to stop an immoral activity (the search for so-called objectivity), or the things it leads to (callousness), or is it there to support moral acts (empathetic behaviour)? Can it be one without being the other? (It could, but it’s not, in this case)

  2. I don’t see much point in putting down objectivity. The real problem is objectivity worship, or rather something along the lines of worshiping THE ONE TRUE OBJECTIVITY for lack of a better way to put it. Objective standards can conflict with each other. “Objectivity” that can’t be defined is worthless. This shouldn’t even be an argument about objectivity in the first place I think. It should be an argument about truth and what is and isn’t truth. Objectivity is nothing more than a tool for measuring truth. I see people using the tool wrongly all the time, but I’ve never been given a reason to think the tool itself is broken. Limited in use because of course it is, but not broken.

    All of this dialog I see you guys having only makes sense coming from a perspective were there is only one truth. If there can be only one truth of course objectivity is broken. What is and isn’t true changes with perspective. If I make a statement like “the sky is blue” and my measurement is the color a human eye is picking up then provided the color seen actually is blue the objective truth is that it’s blue. If I use the same standard and ask someone who can’t see the color blue what color the sky is their answer will be different, conflict with the first answer and still be objectively true. The tool isn’t broken, it just isn’t a god. Maybe that is your point?

    Even if we can all agree that we can’t objectively measure art that doesn’t mean we can’t measure something that is art as something else. For example provided I have access to the data I can objectively measure something as a product by how well it sells or by who buys it and who doesn’t. I can even measure it by the talent of the artist and what techniques they use. If it can be measured it’s possible to be objective about it. As a fan I can also objectively measure something based off many factors. How long it is, how many times it does x, how many times it alternates y with z. All of that can be objective.

    Personally I would like to see more objective reviews and that has nothing to with rating art. I’m ultimately going to make my own decisions about the game and don’t really care about the opinion of most reviewers. I’m interested in their experiences so that I can compare and relate, but their opinion about the quality of art? How much I care is directly related to how well they can define what their opinion is based on. I’m honestly more likely to play something I’m interested in after reading a bad review out of curiosity for what I haven’t been told than what I have been told, but that is just me.(I have a library of games I’ve only spent an hour on to prove it.) I really do want more objective reviews, not my own opinions parroted. At least when it comes to looking for something to buy or otherwise spend my time on. The moment we start talking about art I would love it if everyone else bowed to my artistic opinions! >_> (kidding… for the most part. The world would quickly become a boring place if I were it’s sole designer.)

    • So the big question I had on my mind after I read this comment is: “What’s your idea of an objective review?” Assuming it doesn’t just consist of tallies like how many times X did Y, what would an objective review actually look like? I don’t have any idea myself.

      • A review that is entirely objective would probably be pretty boring to read. It’s incredibly boring to try and write. I think the idea of an entirely objective review is something of a misnomer. Not that it can’t exist, but it’s not something anyone really wants in an absolute form. I think I agree with you and Guy on that point. That said, I don’t think it’s fair to say that genuine objectivity isn’t desired in moderation. We really need to stop thinking in absolutes, because the absolutes in reviewing look bad on both ends.

        It’s very much possible to say something objective and say something that isn’t right after. What I would really like to see is a balance of both that manages to be fun to read while also including the information I would like to know. How long the game is, how many areas it has to explore, what kind of personality the characters express, etc etc.

        Thing is I don’t need to agree with a reviewer on the objective quality of say a character, I just need the objectivity to be defined. I don’t need their objective truth to be my objective truth. We are different people, that concept is both impractical and ridiculous in many way. I can make my own decisions after I understand their view and experience. When I read an objective review I expect it to be that writers objective review, not my own. That is what I want.

        I don’t trust a reviewers sense of morality, but then I don’t really trust anyone’s sense of morality nor do I see any value in doing so. I say that just because it was brought up in this post. Objectivity is not inherently tied to morality. This is easy to illustrate I think. I can come to a conclusion that I believe is immoral and live it out if I so chose. I could chose to be a monster by my own standards and your theory has no room for that. Even if my sense of objectivity conflicts with someone else when we have the same info and come to different conclusions there are more possibilities than presented in this post.

        So what is an objective review? It’s a review where it’s standards are defined. Those standards can be stupid as fuck and the review can still be objective. Honestly at the end of the day I think I do agree on needing to lay the whole search for objectivity to rest. It’s just not very meaningful. What I really want are reviews with a meaningful standard that I can get something out of. Objectivity is an important part of that, but it’s only one part out of many.

        • So objectivity, to you, is internal consistency?

          And the issue with many reviews claiming or promoting objectivity fail that, because their standards and their examples/execution don’t line up.

          (Hrm, not sure if I agree with that definition of objectivity, but I also hate definition wars, and I agree with your comment otherwise.)

          • Sorry for the late response. I hadn’t signed into WordPress for about a week so I only just now read your comment. This is probably going to be a bit long winded, but I’ll try to explain myself as best I can at least. I’m not trying to redefine objectivity. I just don’t see any reason to blame it for the things Froggy and Guy are talking about.

            Objectivity is a tool for measuring truth. If we have decided that there is an absolute truth for everything that applies to everyone on earth then it’s our concept of truth itself that needs to be challenged, not the tool we use to measure it.(unless the tool only functions in addition to the thing that needs to be challenged, but that isn’t true in this case) If we can agree that truth is rarely(if ever) absolute for more than something in a very specific well defined context then we shouldn’t have a problem with objectivity.

            So then what is an objective review? Internal consistency is a nice start, but for a reader to find value in objectivity the truth being measured needs to be defined. “The music in this anime is good” should instead be “the music in this anime is good because of x”. X simply needs to be something absolute in a specific well defined context. If that x is because the ost sold more than a specific number and that number is defined then you have an objective truth. That doesn’t mean you can’t change perspective, come up with another standard and another objective truth. Also an objective truth can be based off an artificial construct. We believe x is true about history so y is absolute. Our standard is an assumption, but it’s still an absolute one. If it turns out that x isn’t true then it’s the assumption that failed, but then the assumption should also be the obvious point of failure. The thing is an assumption is not inherently subjective just because it might be wrong. Objectively measuring something we can’t observe for ourselves is impossible because we don’t have all the pieces. That doesn’t mean we can’t make an educated guess with the understanding that it’s a point of failure and create a standard for measurement based off that. Our understanding of history and earth science are both dependent on that.

            Part of the problem here is the concept of objectively measuring “art”. Something that is inherently subjective can’t be measured objectively. I actually agree with Froggy and Guy on that to a point. That doesn’t mean art can’t be objectively measured based off some other standard. Money, the past projects of people involved, how colorful something is, or even how well it defines a certain idea or manipulates a specific emotion. All of those things can be standards we can use to base an objective measurement on. If it can be math that comes to a single specific conclusion it can be objective. Some of those things are going to be specific to a reviewer, but it being specific to them doesn’t force it to be subjective. If for example I am watching Angel Beats and it makes me cry I can objectively say that it made me cry because it did. Objectivity is a measurement for truth. So long as the measurement doesn’t say everyone is going to cry(which hasn’t been measured by me and probably isn’t true) then there is no reason I can’t come to an objective truth about my own experience and share that experience in an objective way by defining my standards for reviewing it.

            All of this seems really simple to me. I’m honestly a bit confused why objectivity is even a point of debate. I assume it’s because the folks on true anime beat objectivity to death in an unproductive way, but I’ve no desire to spend my time there.(and no there is no objectivity involved in that choice ;) It’s not even that I really disagree with most of what I see Froggy and Guy trying to get across. It’s just that the problem isn’t objectivity I think, it’s truth.

  3. It might be just me being dumb, but I’m somewhat confused by the fact that two claims are being made interchangeably throughout the post: that the “objective” crowd is mostly not keen on actual objectivity, and that actual objectivity (or the pursuit of it) is not desirable. The first point is made clear, but I can’t understand what you’re trying to say about the second one. For instance:

    “Improve yourself and your awareness of cognitive biases and you can claim to be more objective. This type of thinking doesn’t permit you to trust others. You can only trust your own judgement.”

    This is a good point against “objectivity”, but not actual objectivity. If you do know about cognitive biases, then you should also know that your judgement can never be bias-free; that’s an actual objective stance. In that sense, your proposed solution seems to be a better way of pursuing objectivity. But you deny doing that, claiming that objectivity is not the point, and having made extensive claims against it using other fields as examples. Yet if you deny attempts at defining objective standards, then usefulness can’t be one, either.

    I understand that you are not going for a 100% relativist viewpoint, since the post mentions the existence of objective facts, just that they are interpreted subjectively. And you infer that there must be something that makes a critic’s opinion more useful than a fan’s. But how does that differ from what the very first link says? It also acknowledges that you can’t be fully objective, but makes attempts at approaching an objective evaluation while being aware of subjective evaluation. You can argue that the methodology is bad, but the idea itself doesn’t seem to be all that different from your usefulness proposal.

    • You bring up some good points. While I think this post argues effectively against appealing to “objectivity”, the argument about appealing to empathy isn’t as grounded. That’s because the original discussion wasn’t about empathy; it was an argument I tacked on at the end to suggest an alternative way of thinking. It’s definitely something I’ve been thinking about and will attempt to flesh out more.

      I think a critic’s opinion is useful, not because they attempt to approach an objective evaluation, but because their reasoning from A to B is laid out more explicitly. This makes the logic easier to follow, and that’s more useful when you’re trying to engage in someone else’s subjective point of view. The point of art criticism is to communicate a subjective interpretation in a way others can relate to. This requires understanding how others might engage with art. In this context, “objective” is really just shorthand for “generally agreed upon”. My concept of “usefulness” is different from what that Reddit thread proposes, because my end goal is embracing subjective experiences, not attempting to mitigate them in pursuit of an objective ideal.

      As for that throwaway remark I made about cognitive biases, I totally understand that rationalists understand that cognitive biases cannot be avoided. Actually, this post was going through my mind as I wrote that paragraph. Logic and critical thinking are incredibly useful, but they can’t substitute formal knowledge, and that’s the mistake many people make when they ignore political and historical context in a conversation about, say, social issues. But yes, I intended that sentence as a rebuttal against “objectivity”, not the more precise reasoning of more trained thinkers.

  4. Great read, Froggy. When it comes to things like reviews and opinions I always try my best to be open-minded and respectful. Able to listen to others and understand where they are coming from but still confident in my own views. It is something I always try to do. Because in the end we all have our own views and opinions on media, art, etc. That is a part of who we are. Our choices, views, fears, likes and dislikes.

    That comment about how fans are critics reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from Linkara of Atop the Fourth Wall. Now this only an excerpt but the moment I love most is this:
    “… Everyone who buys a comic, a movie, a game, they’re critics. The phrase ‘everyone’s a critic’ has been used to try and brush off criticism, but it’s the truth. We all hold an opinion about something. Customers are critics, because it’s our money to spend and our voice to be heard.”

    In the end everyone has their own opinion and they can be just as different as we all are as people. After all, if everyone had the exact same opinion on everything in the world then the world would not be as great as it is.

    • The distinction between fans and critics is really arbitrary. Critics are fans who apply critical thinking and maybe get paid for it. That said, I still maintain that there’s good criticism and bad criticism, which is why it’s always a good idea to develop that skill :)

  5. So the reasoning of those who think they are right because they are objective amounts to:
    “I think I am right, thefore I am.”

    • I believe the quote here is “don’t argue with idiots. they’ll drag you down to their level and win by sheer experience.”
      It’s unfortunate that idiots tend to have more kneejerk reactions to girls’ opinion. But such behaviors prove that they’re idiots nonetheless. Sadly, they’re also the loudest ones.

  6. Personally, I treat reviews as works of art in their own right. Generally speaking I don’t find reviews particularly helpful for helping me decide whether I’ll like a given work of art, and I stopped holding reviews to that kind of standard a long time ago. Reviews tell me more about the reviewer than what’s reviewed, and that’s fine by me. People are fascinating.

    I’m not sure what kind of knowledge we’re hoping to attain through empathizing with other people’s anime reviews. That kind of ‘knowledge’ is purely socially constructed. It may be that the illusion of objectivity is an important, vital component of that social construct.

    What’s True with a capital ‘T’ is what’s true, but that doesn’t make it necessarily valuable. It’s often the case that we’re better off with the lie.

    • It certainly is convenient to have generally agreed upon assumptions about the world. For example, we generally agree that the sky looks blue and that murder is wrong. If we didn’t have those base assumptions influencing our behaviour, we’d have a much more difficult time identifying commonalities between individuals. That’s not pure objectivity, but for everyday practical purposes, it suffices. It’s sort of like how the Newtonian physics principles don’t predict things accurately outside of Earth, but as long as you stay within Earth and don’t assume those principles work everywhere in the universe, you can reasonably understand how gravity works.

  7. I have written a post on whether or not objective reviews truly exist and I think you cover a lot of the points I missed. Of course, it’s very difficult if not impossible to create one for the fact that there is no right or wrong way to make a criticism and that there are always going to be personal feelings no matter how much one tries to suppress the bias. The problem is that media in general is not a black or white issue since how one views a piece of media will depend on one’s tastes and feelings towards it. Academics in general focuses more on facts from history, experiments, etc, which is probably why it’s easier to be objective there than with reviewing a type of media. Then again, if one manages to write an objective review, it kind of loses the personal touch as objectivity doesn’t allow someone to express their personal views.

    To me, having an open minded view has more value than an objective view as you might get a different angle of what others think about a piece of media even if one doesn’t necessarily agree…

  8. To me, there’s no such thing as an objective review. There is one thing that you missed, though: Letting ones personal genre preferences interfering the usefulness of review on top of making itself less on the critical side and more on mindless bashing side. This understandable if one simply does a review, but to claim being better than other reviewers or more “professional looking” while doing this is not something that a good reviewer should do.

    I’d say that the anime fandom would be a better place if reviewers take cues from respected (not idolized) reviewers from other media.

    • Yeah, good observation. I’m a bit curious about your last sentence, though. What do you think is the difference between respected and idolised reviewers? Are there any examples that spring to your mind for either category?

      • The difference between idolized reviewers and respected reviewers is that fans of idolized reviewers would believe everything they say without regards of whether the reviews they made are useful or truthful on top of ignoring, or worse, justifying the mistakes they have done in reviewing.

        Fans of respected reviewers would call them out for the mistakes that they have done in doing so and would not blindly agreeing with their assessment of the works they have reviewed. I don’t have any examples because I no longer read reviews anymore.

  9. Hmm…Beside this blog, I haven’t seen any two-or more person working together on an anime review. That’s weird.
    You still haven’t touched “Common Sense”, the basic of morality and things like that. When’ll a notion be accepted as Common Sense?
    But again, down with the SAO heathens.

  10. You need “God wills it / Deus Vult!” on that image =P

    In reviews, you might hit a block with that though. Rational writing isn’t very interesting to most readers — how many people read scholarly works for fun? Being opinionated and pompous (as most editorials are) seems to draw the crowd ^^’ Unfortunately, that also makes it harder to listen with an open mind, because that arrogant tone behind the words makes it sound like self-superiority even if that’s not your goal.

    • Tone’s an interesting thing. I mean, the tone of an argument doesn’t physically change the content, but it certainly does influence how others perceive the argument. Often, people tend to conflate the tone of an argument with its quality. I’ve seen a lot of writers argue against “tone policing” lately. But yeah, it’s like you said. I tend to find it difficult to swallow an otherwise decent argument when the writer sounds like a pompous ass.

      Clearly, the trick with writing is to balance clear logic with readability. You don’t have to pick one or the other, but it’s hard to get the words to come out juuuuuust right. If only there were objective guidelines to producing great writing, but alas :P

  11. Excellent piece! I especially like that you took time to define something that we can define “objective” in as-close-to-true a sense as possible. I can’t deny “50 shades of grey” is successful; in this sense, it must have something that it got *right*, because people enjoy it. I can see what that core is, and I can think it is morally right or wrong, or that it is outweighted by other stuff that I deem bad despite being in itself good. The only true straying from “objectivity” here would be denying that such a thing even exists, because that would mean me discussing a popular work while completely detaching myself from the basest of realities about it: that it is, indeed, popular, or I wouldn’t even be discussing it.

  12. I’m gonna admit that I’m can be guilty of this as well. I’ve been noticing myself that I praise people for noting the positives of a work, but I end up calling the negative opinions of a critic “subjective”(I tend to feel this way about the opinions of John Kricfalusi).

    I guess for me, context and standpoint are very important(For instance, what are your expectations when watching a piece of entertainment? What is your intent for watching it?) For instance, I don’t think Warner Bros cartoons being funnier than Disney cartoons mean that Disney cartoons are bad; that’s what Looney Tunes were good at, so I’ll be more likely to watch it if I want more laughs.

    One of things I respect Ebert on was the fact that even if he didn’t really think a film was good, he did take into account what purpose people would be watching it for(if the movie is simply good for a few laughs).

  13. […] The key lies in having various opinions that way you can weed out how most everyone feels about some…. If not then sometimes you are blessed with finding others, at least, who saw things the same way you believed. While this path can be hard since most of the time others wont agree with you or even understand where your coming from it is still comforting to know someone else experienced it like you even if in some different way. With regards to anime it is important to distinguish which side of the spectrum you are, so you can get most out of the anime and manga fandom. […]

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