One thing I hear a lot as a reviewer are cries for objectivity. Usually when I review something popular negatively and the fans claim that it's objectively good so I should be nicer. There's just one teeny tiny problem with this assertion.

Namely, no piece of media is "objectively good" nor is any piece of media "objectively bad." In this context, good and bad are subjective judgments of quality. Let's use an easy visual example. 

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If I'm looking at these three  images purely objectively, I can tell you that they're all stylized and I can talk about other things that use similar art styles. I couldn't, however, make any statements on their quality because that would be moving into subjective territory. 

Therein lies the problem with the whole idea of a purely objective review. A reviewer who made only objective statements wouldn't actually be reviewing a work. They'd be giving facts and summarizing as though they were writing a really boring book report. I could take the first image and tell you that it uses an art style that was popular for super hero comics of the 90s but that has fallen out of popularity now. But that doesn't really tell you anything that you don't know if you know the history of comics.

Now, if I were to bring subjectivity into it. I would tell you that it looks awful. The characters' feet look pointy and too small for their bodies. Their eyes are absolutely minuscule with no sign of any irises or pupils. The shoulder pads are unnecessarily huge and why doesn't that guy have a string for his bow? Not only that, but these Dudes are really over-muscled. They look like you could push them on their sides and roll them like barrels. The one female character, in contrast, doesn't look like she has much in terms of a torso. Where the hell does she keep her organs? And those boobs aren't just massive, but they look like solid spheres rather than real breasts. And why are so many of the guys standing with their thick legs awkwardly stretched out? Are  they trying to do squats?

You'll notice, that that statement, while highly subjective, is also more informative. I would also argue that it's more interesting to read and a lot of what contributes to that are the assessments of quality. You might be saying "No, that art is objectively bad. The proportions aren't realistic." However, if you look at anime, cartoons and comics in general, they rarely have realistic proportions. So, whether they have proportions that are acceptable for stylization purposes or not is purely subjective. Super hero comics readers of the 90s generally thought that looked "cool" and "extreme" and I'm sure some still do. Bugger if I know why.

The same can also be said for writing. Objectively, I might be able to point to two parts of a story and say that there's a lack of continuity between them. However, whether or not that hurts the story, and to what extent, is completely subjective. Some people might think its completely forgivable. Others might think it detracts, but not overmuch. Yet others might think it ruins the story entirely. No one is objectively correct. 

So, what's the point of reviews if those parts that make assertions of quality are going to be subjective? I would say they're four-fold. First, they should give the reader insight into what the reviewer thinks and why. With that understanding comes the reader's ability to assess whether or not they might be interested in the work. Which is the second, and most important, reason for reviews. If you read someone's thoughts on a particular work, you may be able to use that to gauge what your reaction to the work might be. Maybe the premise sounds interesting and their complaints don't seem like they'd bother you. Or maybe the stuff they excuse seems like it would ruin the experience for you. The third purpose is simply entertainment. A good reviewer  can present their ideas in a way that's  interesting for  the reader to peruse, even if they don't agree with parts of what they say. The final purpose is to allow for a dialogue. If you're an adult, you should be able to discuss your thoughts on media in a civilized, level-headed way and reviews give  you a viewpoint about media that you can think about and use as a spring board to articulate your own thoughts. Even when the reviewer completely disagrees with you. You can still examine why you think of the work in question so differently. 

In contrast, an objective "review" would just be a basic summary and there's probably a better one on Wikipedia. Which is why the idea of pure objectivity in reviews always makes me laugh a bit. 

Published by Mischa A