Ratings Systems Flaws
I was on Netflix today picking out my next movie. I have the one-at-a-time plan because, frankly, it can take me two or three weeks to get around to watching a movie, no matter how much I want to see it.
Anyway, as I was scrolling through the movie that have come out in the last three months I came across the Paris Hilton movie called The Hottie and the Nottie. Which from everything I heard was just as vile as you might expect from a movie starring Paris Hilton and with that title. It was rated 1 1/2 stars. It occurred to me that the rating is probably artificially high for that film. Think about it, if you are someone like me, there is no way you are ever going to watch the Hottie or the Nottie unless you are on a transatlantic flight and your laptop dies, and your MP3 player, and the person in the seat next to you you, and your crossword puzzles disintegrate, and well, you get the idea.
What that means, is that I will also never rate the movie. After all, it isn’t fair to rate a movie based on what I’ve heard about it. So, the Paris Hilton movie will never get its well deserved one star rating from me. In fact, it will never get that one star rating from millions of other Americans who will never bother to see the movie. The only people who will rate it are either: a) losers who can’t find the Paris Hilton sex tape online and are using this film as a proxy, or b) people who actually like Paris Hilton and are willing to give her a chance as an actress and therefore are more likely than your average person to rate the movie higher.
This logic can actually be extended to a lot of movies. A right-wing conservative will likely never see a Michael Moore film. Now, they might rate is badly just as a principal vote, but assuming one only rates movies they actually see, then the Michael Moore movies will be rated higher than they actually should be because the people who do see the movie are more likely than the average to like the movie’s political slant.
It would seem that the only movies capable of getting a legitimate rating would be big mass-marketed blockbusters. These films get seen across the spectrum by a big enough variety of people that one can assume that the rating for something like Spider Man 3 accurately reflects the opinion of the masses. This is disturbing because I didn’t really like Spider Man 1 all that much, I disliked Spider Man 2, and I loathed Spider Man 3. We get it, the kid who becomes Spider Man is a giant whiner. Can we please move on?
Thus, like it or not, the most accurate ratings actually come from movie critics who, by profession, see all the movies whether they are of interest to them from a topic or starring actor standpoint. While it would be foolish to put your movie going experience in their hands (I did like both the Mummy, and the Mummy Returns. I get that they are not a subtle commentary on the fragile nature of the human condition, but they were fun.) it does appear that the sum total of their opinion would be more likely to reflect a movie’s actual merits rather than the summation of opinions of those who chose to see the movie, and therefore, attended with a favorable slant to start with. I guess this makes those movies that do get low ratings all that more loathsome. For while a Meryl Streep tear-jerker may benefit from higher ratings because only those who like such films will see it, a movie like the Hottie or the Nottie apparently cannot even reap the rewards of those who tried to like it. Maybe there is some justice, at least at the bottom of the scale.
I’ll have to ponder this further to find how to best determine whether a movie is good, and more importantly whether I will like it or not. Netflix recommends movies, but I believe its system is junk. There is apparently a contest for $1,000,000 if you can improve on the system by 10%. Frankly, I could do it blindfolded except for the fact that it must be a mathematical model based on a data set, and not on things like taking into account that people who like Michael Bay action movies but not Jason Statham action movies would be more or less likely to enjoy a Jason Bourne movie. Oh well. Perhaps there is a way to mathematically code such information. I’ll get back to you and let you know (assuming I can’t win the million with my idea, in which case, you can read about it.)