I watched a movie a while back that I thought was THE WORST movie I had ever seen. I was shocked to find that it received amazing reviews and the actors had received academy awards, screen actors guild awards, national board of review awards, and awards for best actors. I thought, how is that possible? It was so bad and the story line so distasteful I couldn’t believe all the positive hype. I had to read the reviews to see what the critics were saying. As I read the reviews I began to understand there is a slew of criteria from cinematic, production and dramatic performance perspectives that I have been unfamiliar with. According to criteria the actors not only earned the awards they received but the movie itself scored exceptionally high in each of the cinematic categories. Since I am not all that familiar with filming and movie production, I had made a judgement based on my own understanding and expectations. In my opinion it was the worst movie ever. Except it wasn’t.
I realized I have judged movies all of my life on whether or not I thought the movie was “good”. But what is good? I really have no true knowledge of movie criteria. I have lived all of my life knowing practically nothing about it. Yet, I have made opinionated comments, recommendations and bold judgement about movies based off my own set of ideas. My idea of a good movie also changes with the mood I’m in. Sometimes I feel like watching a comedy in which case a horror movie would not fit my expectation. And sometimes I have an expectation for a movie based off who the actors are. Have you ever seen a movie where you really loved the actor but he played a part that wasn’t his usual character type? Isn’t it hard to see an actor you like play a part you hate? It’s particularly true for me when I see a funny actor playing a serious part. It’s hard to remove the expectation of humor.
This started me wondering about other things I judge. I’ll admit I got a little carried away questioning if I really know anything at all about anything! I began wondering if I was using the correct standard, gauge, measure, benchmark, or criteria to judge by. When I came back from the edge, I realized of course I know some stuff! I may not know If a movie is good but I know if I like it. I also know that if I like something there may be some people out there who might also like it. There may be some people out there who might actually agree with me despite what the experts say. Although, if you had decided not to see the movie based on my opinion, you would have missed out on a movie that won accolades and Academy Awards.
Sometimes we believe our own thoughts and judgement but don’t explore beyond that to challenge those beliefs and discover whether they hold up to truth or not. We don’t think more deeply about the criteria we judge by. We think that because other people agree with us we must be right. Just because we believe something doesn’t make it true. Just because we experience something also doesn’t make it true. We experience things and then judge them based on the information we have stored up from past experience, knowledge, and at times our own expectations. We put those together and make very convincing cases for our opinions and our beliefs. Instead of researching true standards or applying critical thinking we just accept what appears to be true. Except it isn’t always the truth.
It’s like judging a movie with no cinematic knowledge. What you’re really judging is your own ideas and expectations for the story but there’s more to a movie than the end product. Our favorite actor playing a new character role is growing and being challenged. He can continue to play those same roles but doing so would limit his opportunities. When we judge we should remember the purpose of the end product isn’t always what we think it should be. Also don’t forget there is a producer and director working behind the scenes. The challenges we face to judge correctly remind me of a verse in Matthew 7:1-5
Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye’, when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
Peter 4:8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.