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For too many people, media discussions are frustrating because they become conflicts. What should be an exchange of thought becomes a war of ideas and regretful exchanges. We all know someone reluctant to discuss media opinions – we may be that person.
I constantly have conversations about this “battle of opinions” with friends, and our near-universal reactions are “why the hell did this become an argument?” It’s easy to decide not to discuss movies or books with anyone but a few trusted people – we don’t want a fight. We prefer an exchange of ideas not metaphorical gunfire.
In a recent conversation about these “battles of opinions,” I realized one problem is how we express and discuss personal and universal values about media. People confuse their opinions with universal truths, but also miss that communicating universal truths needs personal connection.
Let me illustrate this by turning to that producer and canceller of great shows, Netflix.
First, let’s discuss their adaption of the 80s-90’s manga and anime, “Bastard!!” The source material is basically Dungeons and Dragons filled with heavy metal band references, sort of Jojo’s Fantasy Adventures. It is dumb, violent, and keeps a lot of the old problematic content, albeit with a bit of self-aware humor (think a touch of Spinal Tap among the metal). There’s not anything universal I can say about it, my enjoyment was “let’s enjoy this big dumb retro thing.”
My enjoyment, being personal, is not one I can say all should share. I know what I wanted, I got it, and at best I can say “you might like this if you’re in the same mood.” My opinion is not universal or a sign of a great truth, it’s a sign of a personal experience and perhaps a momentary lapse in taste.
(Also, if you do try it, the show kept some very dated stuff from the original, from gore to stupid fanservice that will not sit well with people. I question its inclusion, as there’s faithful and too faithful.)
You can see how if, like many, I felt my opinions were some universal truth, there would be an argument. It would also be a pointless argument because I am expressing something that only exists inside my head.
Now, let’s discuss Netflix’s remake of “He-Man and the Masters of the Universe,” which I’ve analyzed before. I thoroughly enjoyed it, but also part of that was how well crafted it was. The worldbuilding used the original ideas for parts – which I appreciated as I write on worldbuilding. The well-crafted episodes moved at a breezy pace, keeping me enthralled. It was all tied together with an excellent cast that got into their characters. I could discuss the surprising virtues of this show as universal values – but note that my personal experiences were the gateway.
I achieve two things by expressing the universal virtues of “He-Man” through my experience. Because I express the universal virtues (worldbuilding, pacing, etc.) in a personal way, they are more understandable to people. Secondly, by expressing how such virtues appeal to me personally, I lower the chance of making it sound like I’m being too authoritative.
Some our “media battles” come from two sources. One is the people declaring their personal experiences to be universally valid. The second is people attempting to express universal values, and not epressing the personal connections that help people grasp them.