Do people no longer understand the concept of “mediocre”?

The Crow: Salvation isn’t a bad film.

Over the past year, I’ve increasingly felt that a lot of people now believe that media texts (films, videogames, TV shows, books) can only be either bad or very good. The concept of the average, of the mediocre, appears to have disappeared despite quality of media texts being anything but black and white.

It’s like nothing can just be “okay” anymore. Certainly, there’s been a lot of talk with this in regards to games reviews over the past year – that average just isn’t a rating anymore, games must either (apparently) be stupendously awesome or disgustingly awful. And if a game has fans… well let’s just say that latter category isn’t one they like to see.

But mediocre also seems to have become the new bad. Like an average review score means something is bad. Well no, if a numbered score works out at average, then something is average.

Last night I watched the third sequel to The Crow a.k.a. The Crow: Salvation. While not as good as the original, it was still an enjoyable watch and actually was the first time in the series that any serious evolution of plot and mythology took place. I enjoyed it more than the second film.

Back to talking about the concept of average.

The whole situation has been slowly annoying me. For example, this week someone on FB told me the first Crow film was “shit”. Now, while it is not a cinematic masterpiece and perhaps has some rather cliche moments, calling it “shit” is just a tad ridiculous when the technical aspects of the film, when considered along with the script, show that it’s quite a well put together piece. At its worst, the film is mediocre – which isn’t “shit” even by previous regular slang definitions.

In a way, my creation of the Catwoman test last year was in response to this drastic polarization of views. You see, I actually sat through the whole of the Catwoman film (because it had been almost universally agreed as awful) in order to give myself a benchmark by which to judge all other fictional texts that I encounter.

If something isn’t clearly amazing, to me personally, then I start mentally judging it against the Catwoman film. If it’s as bad or worse than that film in terms of script and cinematography then it is a bad media text, but if it’s better than Catwoman, but doesn’t grab me my non-existent balls – then it’s okay, it’s mediocre.

Actually having this benchmark means that I’m able to enjoy more films, but it also helps me look at their technical aspects in some kind of context (because Catwoman had a bad script, bad effects, bad direction and bad acting). To some it may be a very low benchmark, but it works for me.

My suggestion to you if you want to have a similar benchmark: either use mine or decide on something that you believe was genuinely bad and judge it by that.

Do I have a top end benchmark? No. There are a lot of films that I felt have been absolutely fantastic over the years, so I can’t just pick one – and they’re all good for different reasons and they’re certainly not perfect.

And that’s something else people have forgotten: perfection doesn’t exist.

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