When it comes to movies I made it my mission a couple of years ago to actively ignore commercials, reviews and opinions from critics and movie-goers until I was able to watch and judge it for myself. I’ve found that this has greatly increased my enjoyment of watching movies. I don’t think it is possible to shut out all media influence when it comes to movies. After all, how will you know when a movie is coming out or where to watch for the trailer online? But by sharply decreasing my own exposure to how the media shapes opinions, my own opinions are shaped by my own experience of the movie, not someone else’s.
Watching a trailer is one thing. It will influence how a movie is perceived by viewers, up to a point, but a trailer only really serves to tell you what a film is about in the most appealing way, it was created to pique your interest. In my opinion, the real problem comes from media pronouncements about opening weekend box office profits, constant exposure to praise or criticism from critics, sensational antics by the actors who are in the cast, opinions displayed by movie-goers and news about how well or badly a movie is doing. All of these things can influence your opinion of a film before you’ve even seen it and I can’t see anything positive about that. After such a deluge of heavily biased information about and surrounding the movie, it is impossible to form an uninfluenced opinion on your own.
Let’s say you are an entrepreneur and you’ve come out with a special product that you want to put on the market. You’ve worked long and hard and spent a lot of time and money on it. How would you feel if people who have some knowledge about it were trashing it before it even came out on the market? What if these naysayers had a lot of influence on others? Or, what if they heaped so much praise on it that after people purchased it they turned against you in a backlash, claiming that the product wasn’t as good as others claimed? That could do a tremendous amount of damage to your bottom line and it can unduly influence others before they have a proper chance to judge for themselves whether your product is any good or not.
Media sources online can also have a dramatic effect on our thinking how a movie will turn out. You can find plenty or chatter on blogs and forums about movie industry buzz, the content of a movie, people dissecting the plot, themes, characters and certain action set-pieces. I’m not saying that you should ignore media sources in connection with movies. If you get a lot out of these opinions, more power to you, but my biggest reason for avoiding as much of it as I can is that it can spoil a movie for you. There have actually been times where I didn’t go to see a good movie because I heard so much negative press over how bad it supposedly was. I didn’t get a chance to form my own opinion.
Steven Soderberg’s Solaris, starring George Clooney was a prime example of this. Years later after renting it on tape I was shocked at how much I truly loved the film! It is, in my opinion, one of the very best films of 2003. But the bad press, the box office trumpeting of its less than lackluster sales ruined my opinion of it when it first came out. I resolved then to shun media sources when it comes to opinions and numbers until I get the chance to see it for myself. Only then will I know whether it was worth it or not, whether it was bad or good and whether I want to buy it on DVD.