It's Not Supposed to Win Oscars

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It's not what a movie's about, but how it's about it.
Some people like to use the word overanalyzing as a replacement for "this movie's dumb, and you're going to ruin it for me if you make me use my brain!"

Complaining About People Not Liking the Show comes in many different flavors. Most of the time, criticisms for reviews can be overwhelmingly vicious, with statements ranging from death threats to accusations that the reviewer is just being stuck up. However, some defensive notations can be a bit ...farfetched. Somewhere along the line, you will be accused of not getting it. You see, whatever you criticized was supposed to suck.

"The context of why the movie was made justifies what you consider to be poor quality and bad execution of the work. And as such, you didn't understand what was going on to appreciate the work enough to realize that. Apparently, if you were expecting something glorious and spectacular, you came to the wrong movie."

This is one of the more recent lines that fans have started using to deter negative criticisms of their favorite works. In most cases, these defenses are justified if the reviewer/critic actually lacks familiarity with the work. In general, it's true that critics can be far too harsh with various movies and films (especially comedies or parodies) when writing their reviews, citing that they are incredibly lacking in all categories of substance. However, even most fans can get carried away with this regard as it is mostly used to defend their favorite works in general to any and all forms of criticism, even if a reviewer/critic happens to like said work.

The first problem with this defense is that it is on the surface quite paradoxical; a bad movie does not somehow magically cease to be bad merely because it was apparently supposed to be bad. Quite the opposite, in fact. Another is that regardless of the intentions of its producers, ultimately the final product has to be judged on its own end merits; the producers of a film might not be trying to make True Art and may only be trying to 'just' make an entertaining movie, but that doesn't mean they can't fail at being entertaining. Furthermore, there's a suggestion here that producers of creative works that aren't intended to be True Art should only be held to the lowest possible standards, which is patently absurd; quality and entertainment aren't mutually exclusive, and just because something isn't supposed to be High Art doesn't mean you've got a license to be lazy or sloppy with it. And of course, there's the obvious question of why you would want to deliberately make something terrible to begin with.

This is not to say that there's anything wrong with purely escapist entertainment or that all works should aspire towards the loftiest heights of 'worthy' True Art; just that making escapist entertainment isn't itself an automatic 'Get Out Of Criticism Free' card for producers. Fans who take this view can be deliberately invoking any or all of the Animation, Sci-Fi, and Comedy Ghetto tropes. This might seem contradictory of the usual purpose of these tropes (i.e. trying to get what they like out of said Ghettos), but the point is that different genres should be held to different standards.

While not exactly aimed at this phenomenon, 'Ebert's Law' as coined by noted film critic Roger Ebert -- "It's not what a movie's about, but how it's about it"—also has some relevance here. The idea is that he can rate an supposedly 'no-brainer' action movie higher than a supposedly 'worthy' Oscar Bait drama not because the action movie is artistically more complex or inherently superior to the drama (although it could be), but because the action movie is better at being an action movie, and thus is a more satisfying cinematic experience, than the drama is at being a drama. By this logic, the inverse is also true; just because an action movie isn't necessarily aiming to provide it's audience with the same things as a drama does not exempt it from criticism entirely.

When creators invoke this trope, it often betrays a belief that Viewers are Morons.

Compare with Springtime for Hitler.

Examples of It's Not Supposed to Win Oscars include:



Tycho: I'd bet you'd love to criticize that, wouldn't you, you Critics! But you can't.
Gabe: It's not for you.

      • He took it even further after the release (and critical drubbing) of Cop Out, saying that films in general aren't for critics, but for fans.
  • Maryann Johanson on the film adaptation of Marmaduke:

Maryann: This is one of those movies that we're not supposed to complain about because it's "for kids," as if kids aren't smart enough to recognize shit. Or as if we wouldn't mind serving our kids shit. I wouldn't want my kids, if I had any, anywhere near this, unless I actually wanted to inculcate in them scream-inducing 1950s gender stereotypes. Which I wouldn't.

  • Moviebob expressed his disapproval of the notion that just because a movie "isn't trying", that makes it immune to criticism. He gave the example of The Expendables, saying that its problem wasn't that it was a big dumb action movie, but that it was a bad big dumb action movie.
  • Seltzer and Friedberg defenders (yes they do exist) often use this excuse. "I know they're stupid lame jokes, they're supposed to be stupid lame jokes." Ignoring that there's a right and a wrong way to do even lame humor and that if the audience can't tell you're doing it on purpose, it can still be judged as having failed.
  • A very common defense of Sucker Punch.
    • And some fans give the defence "It's not supposed to be entertaining or enjoyable".
  • Rotten Tomatoes's "critic's consensus" system is very, very guilty of this. Chances are, if a movie turns out bad (but not below 10% bad), but is catered toward a specific demographic (children, fans of the source material etc.) the consensus will be written along the lines of "This movie is bad, but at least its target demographic will enjoy it.", the worst example being this (Apparently, "Live-action cartoon for kids" speaks for itself).
  • The Michael Bay Transformers movies get this a lot, with complaints about their humor, characters, plot, and so on met with, "Look we're just here to see giant robots beat each other up, what do you expect?".
    • Ofcourse the chief complaint is that the movies aren't about giant robots, but an annoying dude and his wacky hijinks watching these giant robots, who get so little characterization that they are often difficult to even tell apart.

Live Action Television

  • Glee fans can fall back on this when encountering any criticism of the show's unlikely plot points or character interaction. "It's supposed to be unrealistic and silly. It's a parody of musicals!" TIME reviewer James Poniewozik explicitly rejected this in one review, not because he dislikes the show, but because he thinks so highly of it that he expects greatness from it: if a show is trying for genuinely emotional moments or Aesops and fail to deliver them effectively, a Parody Retcon is an insult to both the viewers and the creators.
  • iCarly had an in universe Author Tract that was Leaning on the Fourth Wall to say that the webshow (and by extension, the actual real life show), was just a 'stupid pointless comedy' and looking for deeper moments or any kind of continuity or emotional moments was pointless and against the intention of the authors. An interesting example as it wasn't directed at outside critics, but at fandom and it's desire to turn the show into a Shipping drama.
  • An interesting variation happened as True Blood encountered accusations of Seasonal Rot in its third and fourth seasons. When critics who liked the show's first two seasons complained of Character Derailment, Aborted Arcs etc. they were told that not only were they wrong to apply such standards to Supernatural Soap Opera, but that the show had always been like this - retroactively undermining critical praise for True Blood's early run.

Video Games

  • Many of the criticisms heaped on No More Heroes, notably the rather empty overworld, bad driving physics, and generally low-scale environment assets, were deflected by the fanbase by saying that the creator meant to lampoon games like Grand Theft Auto by deliberately making a clunky overworld.
  • Inverted: This is a complaint about Saints Row the Third: While its only meant to be a mindless, over the top affair of action and violence, many, especially fans of Saints Row 2, criticised the plot as a case of They Just Didn't Care since it doesn't seem to have been written all too well.

Web Original

  • The Spoony One acknowledges this in his New Moon Vlog, saying that he has to judge it on whether it does what it sets out to do well. He says that, insofar as it seeks to show the audience shirtless Native Americans, it sort of does, but it fails at everything else it attempts to do. And with that, couldn't they just find it on the net?
  • The Nostalgia Critic passes the low quality of The Super Mario Bros. Super Show and The Legend of Zelda cartoon off on the fact that they were intended for children; however he does comment that just because something is for kids doesn't really give its makers an excuse to be lazy with it.
    • Despite his seething hatred for The Care Bears Movie, he still recommended it for children from the age of one to... one. In the commentary for that review, he and his brother admitted that five-year-olds and younger generally would like it (as they did at that age), and that it at least had the merit that it didn't resort to violence in defeating the villain (which in his opinion would've broken its own Aesop).
    • In his review of A Troll in Central Park, he claimed that one of the reasons he makes the videos is to try and convince studios that they shouldn't just resort to padding and pandering when making kids movies, when great and memorable films could be made instead.
  • The Nostalgia Chick went on a similar rant at the end of her "Worst Disney Sequels" review, basically saying that it was negligent parenting to not care how idiotic your child's entertainment is.

Western Animation

  • Used to counter complaints about Family Guy, as it's a show that "doesn't have to try and have morals or life lessons to be learned. It's supposed to be funny above all else."
    • This argument is not altogether unfamiliar in comedy but it doesn't work too well with, for instance, newer episodes that are message heavy at the expense of humor ("Not All Dogs Go to Heaven", anyone?).
    • At the same time, much criticism comes from people inherently against the use of one-shot cutaways and Overly Long Gag.
  • In-Universe on South Park with Chinpokomon, a Show Within a Show that the boys like. After watching an episode Randy notes that it's not horribly violent or vulgar, but Sharon objects that it's incredibly stupid, which could do just as much damage to a child's psyche.
    • It's also brainwashing them to bomb Pearl Harbor, but that's an entirely different problem.

Web Animation

  • Zero Punctuation: In his review of Batman: Arkham Asylum, Yahtzee, while generally favourable to the game, criticised the writing. He acknolwedged that one could argue that you shouldn't expect much from a game based on a comic book, but then immediately countered that with the argument that just because it's a comic book, it doesn't mean that it has to have bad writing.