Random Factoid #385

17 08 2010

Just when you thought I was done talking about “Eat Pray Love,” I come back with ANOTHER factoid.  I am not obsessed with it on an “Inception” level, just to clear the record.

Today’s discussion piece comes courtesy of The Big Picture over at The Los Angeles Times. The post was “What does this say about U.S. manhood: Male critics actually like Eat Pray Love,” and author Patrick Goldstein gave this shocking statistic of the movie’s critical opinion:

Men who liked the movie: 27.

Men who hated the movie: 44.

Women who liked the movie: 15

Women who hated the movie: 24.

Here’s my take on these results.  Looking at them for just what they are, you might assume that male critics have been emasculated or a kind of gender swap happened.  Although I’m not taking statistics next year, I know (perhaps through reading Malcolm Gladwell, perhaps through 15 years of education) how to look at data and interpret it.

Just to point out, male critics don’t like it more.  The percentage of people who liked the movie was nearly identical among the genders, with just a fraction of a percentage point more for women.  The surprising fact is not so much that they liked it at all so much as it is that they liked it just as much as the target gender.

As a self-declared movie critic, I know that more than the quality of the movie itself factors into the grade I bestow upon it.  Preconceived notions play a HUGE part.  If I think I’m going to hate a movie, and it winds up being average, I will probably give it a higher grade than an average movie I thought I would love.

Take, for example, the movies I gave a B this summer.  I was expecting “Robin Hood” to be amazing, and it wound up being just OK.  On the other hand, I was preparing for a disaster with “Despicable Me,” which I actually mildly enjoyed.  Had I seen “Robin Hood” with the expectations of “Despicable Me,” I probably would have given it a higher grade; the same goes for the other way around.

As much as we try to stay subjective in reviewing, we can’t help but let surprise and disappointment play a big part in our feelings.  And I think the surprise of seeing a decent chick flick makes guys more inclined to like a movie, while women would feel disappointment for the same movie.

My conclusion: male support of “Eat Pray Love” doesn’t reflect the quality of the movie; rather, it is evidence of the influence of gender-based stereotypes on the opinion of a movie.


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18 08 2010
Simon/Ripley

Or it could be they asked 71 men to 39 women.

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