Volume 93, Issue 9

Tuesday, September 14, 1999


Stigmata leaves the marks of good thriller

Beck proves good music transcends all barriers

Shooting for opinion, not for stars

Brothers deliver pop slam dunk

Echoes stirs viewers

New Parade needs polishing, High & Mighty have strong Advantage

Shooting for opinion, not for stars

Those of you who pay attention to such details will have undoubtedly noticed a subtle difference in today's Arts & Entertainment section from those of years past.

I'm referring to the rating system which will accompany every film, music and book review in the A&E section for the remainder of the school year. You're all familiar with the concept – five stars, rarely awarded, means the reviewer deems a particular work to be essential and possibly groundbreaking. On the other side of the scale, one star means the given work is utterly and completely devoid of any positive qualities whatsoever.

Quite honestly, I'll be surprised if we award either one or five stars to anything all year, but that's besides the point. The point is that the decision to adopt this grading format suddenly puts the section in a slightly unsavoury position. After all, how can we expect anybody to maintain any semblance of objectivity in criticism when they're chained to such a crude scale of measurement? How do we rationalize the fact the latest Smash Mouth record was awarded the same star rating as the most recent Oliver Stone film?

Well, to put it quite bluntly, we don't. I think we're all smart enough to recognize that no grading scheme, no matter how complex, will ever be sufficient enough to accurately gauge the wild mish-mash of emotions and ideas we get after taking in a new piece of film, music or literature. So? What's the deal with the star thing?

I guess the simplest answer is that we're doing it for your reaction. We want to wind you up, we want to make you think and we want to piss you off. If you completely and utterly disagree with a rating we've given, chances are higher you're going to read the accompanying review. Once you're done reading it you might end up agreeing with us and you might not. Regardless, you'll have unwittingly participated in a bit of criticism yourself and that's kind of a cool thought.

Think of it this way – in it's simplest form, your personality is nothing more than a huge collection of likes and dislikes. If we can challenge you to question and defend some of those likes and dislikes, then we're covertly contributing to the whole notion of university as a breeding ground for independant ideas. And that's a cool thought too.

Don't get us wrong – we don't take this A&E thing too seriously. But if we're gonna do this, we'd rather do it in a manner that's prone to sparking some random debates. In the meantime, enjoy.

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Copyright The Gazette 1999