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Opinion: If You Are Going To Criticize A Movie Or Show, Watch It Right

Streaming is up, a promising new platform HBO Max will be out in one week, and people are even able to watch brand-new movies (meant to release in theaters) at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many home televisions around the world have been getting plenty of use over the past several weeks.


With the rise of social media, online discussion regarding television shows and movies has also risen. “Spoilers” have always been somewhat of a problem via in-person discussion, but they have become trickier to navigate and avoid over the past 10 or 20 years. However, social media and the urge to reach for your phone while watching something has also become an issue.


Yesterday, classic HBO show Game of Thrones was trending one year after its series finale, and many of the posts were highly negative. I clicked on the hashtag to see if maybe some people realized they went a little overboard with their displeasure over the final season, but what I saw was the opposite.


One thing stood out from the brief scrolling I did on the topic, and it’s something I had forgotten was even an issue: people not actually paying attention to what they are watching.


Obviously, not everyone is going to agree that a movie or show is “good” or “bad”. Certainly, people have different tastes and outlooks on film—some people don’t even like The Godfather!


With that said, it’s hard not to shake your head at viewers not giving the subject matter a fair shake. One livestream from the Game of Thrones finale last year had people throwing their arms up and yelling in disgust at every turn, while others frequently pick their phone up and put it down like the show was just background noise or a re-run they’ve seen 30 times.


Of course, some that behave like this are then among the sharpest critics, which seems unfair.


It’s nice that most people can easily let their opinions be known in online discourse, and different opinions are great. Everyone having their own unique thoughts and feelings on something instead of falling into groupthink is an overwhelming positive. But is it that hard to give a movie or show your undivided attention for a short time before you criticize those that undoubtedly worked so hard on it?


This isn’t meant to come off as elitist. If it makes you happy to watch while discussing it with a group or checking your phone every five minutes, that’s fine! But it’s a little rich to harshly and relentlessly criticize something after you nonchalantly watch it.


Imagine going to a play, talking aloud and checking your phone every five minutes. That is going to take away from the experience, no?


Now imagine you talk and tweet about how bad the play was. Then go backstage and tell the playwright and director that their show was terrible.


Thankfully, that probably doesn’t happen very often. As stated, do whatever makes you happy. If you want to have a big watch party and discuss while being unable to put down your phone for an hour or two instead of sitting down and intently watching something, go ahead.


But quite honestly, it’s difficult to take it seriously when you then say how terrible the movie or show is afterwards.


No doubt, going to a play is much different than watching something on your couch. However, if people could give shows (and movies watched at home) the same level of respect and then form independent opinions instead of jumping to social media to see what people that barely paid attention think, it would upgrade the viewing experience and overall positivity for everyone.


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