Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A Word About Star Ratings

Starting this week, I’m going to stop putting star ratings on my reviews. I may well go back in a few weeks to using star ratings – I have used them ever since I started reviewing, which goes back years before I started this blog and in fact well before then. When I started the blog, I thought long and hard about whether or not to include them, and decided to stick with it. But ever since then, I’ve gone back and forth about taking them out – hence the experiment I’m starting this week.

The reason why I’ve decided to stop is simple – I don’t see any value in having discussions about star ratings – but I have gotten quite a few e-mails about them. To me, a star rating system, or a letter grade system, or really any grading system, is meant to be a guide, not a substitute for the review. But I get e-mails asking why I gave this film 3 stars instead of 3.5, or why this film got 4 stars, and that film got 3.5, etc. Or, when I do my ridiculously long year end list (top 30) and end up putting some films I have 3.5 stars to over films I gave 4 stars to, and people want an explanation for that. The honest answer to these queries is usually “I have no idea”. The star ratings are by and large a gut reaction coming off of a first viewing of a film. When I do my end of year list, I take every film I gave 3.5 or 4 stars to and then put them in order of my preference at that time. The truth of the matter is quite simple – I very rarely change my opinion on a film, but looking back, I may have changed the rating -  I wouldn’t change a word of what I wrote, but perhaps I would have changed the star rating. So, in doing this, I am attempting to stop talking about star ratings, which I see as pointless and instead focus on the movies themselves.

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