“This show sucks.” I read about my favorite show, and my fingers already began typing a response as I keep reading. “It doesn’t respect its own female characters, and the plot has bad pacing!”
I have to force myself to stop and breathe for a second, to calm down. On one hand, I could finish typing up the in-depth essay defending the honor of my favorite show. On the other hand, if I really dig deep inside myself, I can see these complaints are totally valid. Derailing the conversation to the broader point of the mediocrity of the show would be a disservice to everyone involved. So, I stop and remind myself again, not every piece of media I consume is perfect, and that’s okay.
I’m not the only one with this problem. Many of us just want others to like the same things we do — after all, if it makes us happy, it’s sure to make others happy. But that innocence is easily twisted, and we begin to ignore very valid complaints about our favorite media. Instead, it becomes a battle of honor and willful ignorance.
Sure, “Metal Gear Solid V’s” character Quiet is arbitrarily wearing the skimpiest clothing possible, but she’s part plant, so she needs sunlight. We could compare her to Superman, who is also sunlight-powered but doesn’t show much skin, but we’ll ignore that for now because he’s from a different franchise. This is just one example of how people can ignore logic to blindly defend a media text and its creator.
This is an argument I have seen and, sometimes, been a part of — though not on the defense of the media. But bring up “One Piece” or “Sonic the Hedgehog,” and I’ve already reverted to the debate skills of a middle schooler. Logically speaking, no show can have a flawless narrative with equal and fair treatment of its characters but that doesn’t mean you can’t enoy the show.
Being able to like something but still be critical of it is an important part of the media consumption process — which isn’t to say you have to analyze everything you watch. After all, some shows are just for entertainment, and while we can still hold them to certain standards, you’re allowed to simply enjoy it. When media consumers criticize media producers, it’s usually to point out what is wrong with the media and how to fix it — things that are necessary to enact change and improvement in media.
Now, I’m not saying that critical discussion of media isn’t important. Discussing what is and isn’t bad about certain genre conventions and how they are used can lead to great insight about the work. But when your only addition to the argument is “You’re wrong, it’s perfect,” this isn’t what you’re doing. You are leaving your media consumption stagnate, and you end up learning nothing from the experience.
So, the next time you’re about to get into an Internet argument about the last episode of “Game of Thrones,” sit back and just breathe. You’d be surprised how calming it is to let go of simple things.