Rest assured, I’m by no means making light of obsessive compulsive disorder. I refer to another form of O.C.D., a process comprised of three stages:
In a world where we’re all too quick to “like” or “not like” something without giving matters much thought, knee jerk responses seem to be getting us into a lot of trouble—or at least a lot of fights. Yet they could all be so easily avoided. The antidote is three-fold: sufficient time to reflect, contextualize and engage in thoughtful discourse.
As a case study, let’s revisit Roger Ebert’s first impression of Clint Eastwood’s THE UNFORGIVEN, which he originally allotted a measly 2 stars, claiming it “does not build up much momentum or have a strong sweep that carries us from beginning to end.” Yet by 2006, he had not only swapped out his knee-jerk pan for a highly favorable (4 star) review, but went so far as to add it to his list of all-time greatest films. Why? The first time around, Ebert confesses, he was distracted by planning his forthcoming wedding. He had not given the film sufficient consideration.
It was only after rewatching the film in a brand new context—with time to reflect combined with the input of other viewers—that he embraced it, now seeing what he failed to before. Now, don’t get me wrong. I am by no means suggesting one should kowtow to the opinions of others against her own judgment. And Ebert did not, evidenced by his steadfast slam against Kubrick’s much acclaimed A CLOCKWORK ORANGE among others. Rather, I’m imploring that we resist making premature judgment calls, remaining as objective as possible and gathering sufficient data to arrive more gradually at our own genuine opinions. Marshall Mcluhan wisely said, “I wouldn’t have seen it if I hadn’t believed it,” exemplifying how humans’ pre-conceived notions unduly shape their often immovable perspectives. Why limit ourselves? What good has ever come of that?
So my 7th and final, for now, call to action is a plea to engage in genuine cinematic O.C.D. In short, let’s not simply fly off the handle in declaring a film “good” or “bad.” Let’s instead try to find its strengths and weaknesses whilst comparing how our perspectives compare and contrast with those of other viewers and trying to understand from whence each comes. Otherwise, we limit ourselves to only the comfortable and familiar, and to expand on the sage words of THE SHINING’s Jack Torrance: all same and no change makes Jack a very dull (and socially unenlightened) boy.
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