Saturday, January 3, 2009

Why imdb matters -- our time is scarce

There are perhaps an infinite number of possible criticisms of imdb espoused in everyday conversation. I'll address more of these in future posts, but first, the most common criticism: Why is imdb necessary at all?

If you google "how many films have ever been made?" you get a few search results, like this wiki answers, of people asking the question. But of course nobody knows the answer for sure. That's because there have been a *&#-load of movies made in the last 100 years, and there is no way that any one man or woman could watch every one of them.

So, you need a way to filter out the trashy movies before you waste 90 minutes of you life. Like that time you watched "Surf Ninjas of the South China Sea"… or were you trying to forget about that?

It's true that you could rely on the opinion of experts like Enert and Doper. But many of these soulless men spend their days locked in ivory towers obsessing over what angle their thumb should be oriented in. What makes you think that your tastes will be the same as theirs?

Instead, your best option is to harness the wisdom of the crowds and watch movies based on imdb's ratings. Yes there are biases in these ratings, and I'll address some of them in future posts. But overall there is no system that can match imdb's massive amount of opinions, and it is this critical mass that cancels out many of the biases that affect individuals.

And what about respecting the artists? As cinemaphile Tyler Cowen explains in Discover Your Inner Economist,
We must ignore the carping of the sophisticates. Well-educated critics may claim that pictures cannot be ranked, value is multidimensional or subjective, or that such talk represent a totalizing, colonizing, possessive, postcapitalist, hegemonic Western imperalist approach. All of those missives are beside the point. When it comes to the arts, dealing with the scarcity of our attention is more important than anything, including respecting the artists.
It may sound harsh to not watch a movie simply because it only received an average rating of 6.4 out of 10. But our time is scarce, and we live in an unfair world. We must either adapt to the evolving landscapes or be crushed under the unforgiving winds of change. Respect yourselves, and Godspeed.