Wednesday, November 14, 2007

A Matter of Opinion

Here at the Internet Sensation, John and Dave's Pop Culture America, heard on blogtalkradio.com every Saturday at 12 noon Eastern (11 AM Central), we deal in opinions. Davey and I weigh in on the films, TV shows, music and issues of the day. We are of the opinion that our opinions are interesting, informed, and worthwhile.

And there's every possibility that we're wrong about that.

Last post, I drew a distinction between a valid opinion and the simple recursive circle logic of I-Like-What-I-Like. They are different things.

A valid opinion is thought out. Even if you don't agree with it, hopefully it's interesting and informative and helps to clarify your own feelings and ideas.

I-Like-What-I-Like is the opposite. It simply states a preference (or distaste) and attempts to shut down conversation.

We all like what we like. Duh. And that often goes by the name "opinion." But it's not the same.

And while I prefer a reasoned, considered opinion to a knee jerk statement of preference, I gotta admit, sometimes I get a case of the I-Like-What-I-Likes too.

For example: I am a fan of Roger Ebert. I have been reading his reviews since I was old enough to know what a movie review was. I don't always agree with him, but I just about always find his opinions to be cogent and thoughtful and a good place to begin my own thinking about a movie.

And yet, when I find myself in violent disagreement with him, I can't help but fall back on I-Like-What-I-Like.

Back in 1987, he gave Raising Arizona a star and a half and ripped it apart. I love that movie. I think it's one of the best American comedies ever. And I remember reading that review and cursing Roger Ebert in terms the most foul-mouthed of foul-mouths would have admired.

Roger Ebert has seen more films than I have, and certainly more than my 1987 self had. Roger Ebert has written more about films than I have. Roger Ebert has a Pulitzer Prize for reviewing films; I have yet to be so honored. By any objective measure, Roger Ebert's valid opinion should trump my I-Like-What-I-Like reaction to it.

But none of that mattered to me. Because I Like What I Like. And his review trashed something I held (and continue to hold) dear.

So as we trade in our opinions; as we attempt to express them thoughtfully and defend them staunchly, let's always allow for reasonable disagreement by those wrongheaded individuals who are so sadly mistaken in their opposing beliefs.

They are to be pitied, not shouted down.

Whatever else you might think of those who disagree with you, you can be sure that they like what they like.

To see Roger Ebert's offending and incorrect review of the Coen Brothers' screwball comedy masterpiece Raising Arizona, click here.

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