I had an interesting conversation with a friend on twitter this morning. He was upset about an article entitled “Why Guardians of the Galaxy is Overrated- Especially When Compared to Farscape“. In his mind the use of the term overrated was polarizing and an attack on all those that like Guardians of the Galaxy. That it cuts off conversation and tells people they are wrong. I don’t disagree that the word overrated is overused (it’s an overrated word you might say!). However, I think there is a much worse problem going on.
If you look at the article in question she spends 16 paragraphs (about 4 pages) detailing the issues she has with Guardians and why this show Farscape does the same thing better. I’ve never heard of Farscape so I found it quite interesting. I don’t find it threatening in the least that she isn’t in love with a movie I enjoy- Guardians of the Galaxy. That’s what makes life great is people with different opinions and perspectives. It would be one thing if she just trolled and said “Guardians is overrated” but she detailed quite thoroughly why she felt that way. What more can you ask for?
My biggest concern is that so often people look at the headline or title of an article and have an immediate visceral reaction. “This person doesn’t like Guardians. How dare they!” and then they shut off and don’t read/watch what is being said by the contributor. As a blogger it can be incredibly frustrating to work hard on an piece and have someone focus on one tiny little thing that they disagree with. Like the other day on my Boss Baby review I mentioned I felt it was the 3rd worst Dreamworks movie after Home and Shark Tale. Despite spending nearly 10 minutes explaining my issues with the film someone in the comments just focused on the one passing mention I made about Home. It was very frustrating.
This leads to another problem. It comes down to an issue of nomenclature. As a society we assign certain words to fit situations, people, emotions and everything else. These words can change over time. For example, on airplanes people flying used to be called passengers and now the accepted word is customers. Someone may feel passengers is a more appropriate word but it really doesn’t matter because society has deemed otherwise.
It’s the same way with a word like overrated. There is a human experience of watching/reading something that most people seem to love and not loving it. That happens and will continue to happen from now until the end of time. So how do we discuss or talk about that experience? I’m sorry but the nomenclature or word society has chosen is overrated. I have yet to hear another option that is as concise or as instantly understandable for this type of discussion. It’s also important to understand this is mostly a discussion of titles and headlines. For example, in the article in question she only uses the word overrated once. The rest of the piece is her explaining why she feels the way she feels. Nevertheless, when coming up with a title for the article it is hard to debate the most universally accepted word to describe what she is saying is overrated. I mean what is she going to say “Why I Don’t Like Guardians of the Galaxy as Much as Most People and Here are the Reasons why Farscape is Better”? I mean what she already has is unwieldy but this is even worse.
Recently I did a podcast with a friend of mine on Disney movies that we like or don’t like as much as most. I don’t know what else we could have called this podcast but Over and Underrated Disney Films? If any of you have some great way to say this then please let me know. It is the responsibility of the listener to then absorb our arguments for why we feel the way we do and see if they agree or disagree. Again, I don’t know any other way to say that?
The fact is we have to accept the nomenclature society has chosen for certain experiences. Overrated is the word we have chosen to describe having a contrary opinion than the majority. As a content producer I do not see any way to avoid using it or any other word to use. That’s just the way words and language work. We don’t talk like they did in Regency novels even if it is more technically correct. Why? It’s not the socially accepted way to talk. Certain words move in and out of fashion and if you are going to publish media you have to use the words people will understand. It’s just the way it is.
I guess my only advice might be to try to use overrated or any other hyperbole sparingly. The other day I was complaining about people using the word masterpiece to describe everything. Maybe try to throw in some other adjectives every now and then. 🙂
So, in conclusion, there are two problems here. First, people get too caught up in a headline and don’t actually read many opinion pieces. Second, society has yet to come up with a better word to describe many situations and until they do we are stuck with the overrated ones.