So here’s what metacritic is if you don’t know: It’s a website that takes reviews (including ones that don’t give any kind of “rating”) and finds the average scores of those ratings and positive/negative sentiments to give the most average and fair score to that film/album/dvd/show/what have you.
Sounds perfectly fair, right?
Except the system has a lot of problems. I don’t know how they put it all together but many of the results are… suspect. I think it may have to do with how each medium approaches its criticism but let’s get specific.
The chief offender is easily, easily, easily music.
Here’s the top 16 for 2008:
|1||What Does It All Mean? 1983-2006 Retrospective by Steinski||2008||90|
|2||London Zoo by The Bug||2008||90|
|3||Fed by Plush||2008||89|
|4||For Emma, Forever Ago by Bon Iver||2008||89|
|5||Dear Science, by TV On The Radio||2008||88|
|6||Fleet Foxes by Fleet Foxes||2008||87|
|7||Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!! by Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds||2008||87|
|8||Robyn by Robyn||2008||86|
|9||Hercules And Love Affair by Hercules And Love Affair||2008||86|
|10||Fortress by Protest The Hero||2008||86|
|11||Rook by Shearwater||2008||85|
|12||Life…The Best Game In Town by Harvey Milk||2008||85|
|13||Third by Portishead||2008||85|
|14||Stay Positive by The Hold Steady||2008||85|
|15||Laulu Laakson Kukista by Paavoharju||2008||85|
|16||Harps And Angels by Randy Newman||2008||85|
Now I like music. A lot. I like a lot of weird shit. I went to metafilter to specifically see if there was anything I didn’t know about which was pretty good. I do this about every 6 months or so. And this time I was like “that’s it, I’ve had it.” The top twelve on this list are pure balls. Seriously I in depth listened to all of them and there wasn’t anything good. The only things I kind of liked were stuff after that and things I already had like Portishead, The Hold Steady. Look, music is ultra super subjective. Moreso than the other mainstream artforms. It just is. And trying to critically rate it all just doesn’t work in the metacritic system. Look across the board, everything gets the “green light” rating of being good. Unlike the other mediums where getting something in the green is rare. Plus it tends to overskew bad metal bands that get big love from metal magazines. Don’t get me wrong, I likes me some metals but damn Protest the Hero sucks. Bah, it makes me too angry.
Their movie scores are much less offensive, but often your favorite movie can get lost in the shuffle. Strongly mixed critical reactions are often a symbol of brave filmmaking. My favorite film so far this year “Towelhead” rated a 57. Why? Because I imagine it was so hard/uncomfortable for some critics to watch. And that becomes a huge detriment for this intensely brave and well-made movie which is tackling societal taboos and the mixed messages we send young girls. Show me a “universally adored” movie and I’ll show you a Titanic. Yeah, you go back and watch that piece of poop recently? God that was bad.
Oddly enough there is one form of media where metacritic system excels.
Video games?!?!?! Yup. Their culminations of reviews are surprisingly spot on. Universal adortation of video game is easily possible because gamers are such a specific audience. Everyone who goes to a movie doesn’t understand mise en scene. But everyone who plays video games frequently gets the subtleties of game play. So metacritic works so well for my gaming purchases purpose. Just fantastic stuff.
*shit, sorry all. I like TV on the Radio a lot. I should have mentioned that but forgot. I stand by the rest.
**double shit, I like Nick Cave and the bad seeds too.
***i more though the bug, plush, robyn, hercules and the love affair, protest the hero, and shearwater really, really, REALLY sucked.