Ratings

I keep a short “guilty pleasure” movie list. It mostly consists of chick flicks with adorable plot lines that are rated poorly on IMDB. The list is short because I’m totally someone who filters movies by their ratings. If it’s less than a 7, I usually skip it.

Two nights ago, I watched “In Good Company.” The movie is rated a 6.5, and I could see exactly why. The acting was spotty and overdramatized, the side characters were flat, and there were quite a few cheesy shot compositions. Despite all this, by the end of the movie, I still had a smile on my face. I enjoyed the story.

I would definitely describe the movie as very simple and obvious. But because it is simple and obvious, the messages that the film conveys are easily understood. It’s funny how creative areas like writing and filmmaking make simplicity out to be so bad. People will often criticize a work for its lack of complexity. In the space of software and product design, simplicity is the holy grail.

Anyway, when it comes to ratings, Yelp inevitably come to my mind. I startle myself by remembering all the times I’ve discounted restaurants for their meager 3.5 ratings. I can definitely think of a few places that I tried and liked through friends or because of geographic convenience—only to check Yelp ratings later and be shocked at their less than 4 ratings. (E.g. Ozumo, one of my favorite restaurants, is only a 3.5.)

This is definitely a matter of oversimplified rating systems, where you trade in depth for speed in filtering. And I completely understand the need for these systems. There is so much noise in the world that unless you block out 99% of it, you won’t be able to get anything done. Imagine spending hours reading reviews for three restaurants every day just to decide where to eat, or having to try every single dish at a restaurant to know what’s good.

As a society, we’re definitely getting used to slapping oversimplified number ratings on almost everything (Amazon) and everyone (dating sites). As a result, we’re being trained to make cursory judgements all the time. Unfortunately, the issue is not as simple as advocating for taking more time to evaluate more slowly. It’s as difficult as the topic of work-life balance. There is never a sweet spot when it comes to “finding balance.”

Anyway, I’m just glad I gave “In Good Company” a chance despite its poor rating.

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