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Cup of coffee in the big time: If wrestling is art, grow up and stop complaining about star ratings

I don’t do star ratings. I just don’t personally enjoy rating matches that way.

That said, I also don’t pretend the process of rating systems is without merit or value.

The argument against star ratings gets notably louder every time Dave Meltzer ... well, every time Dave Meltzer watches a New Japan Pro Wrestling event.

This back-and-forth over the value of match rating was featured in brilliant bite-sized format in a tweet yesterday:

Saying art is subjective while arguing against a standard method of providing a subjective review of art is a sort of brilliantly unintentional irony.

Roger Ebert — the greatest film critic to ever do the thing — was routinely criticized for “giving out too many stars” in a very Meltzer-watching-NJPW way. So much so, that he wrote a blog entry about it:

I cringe when people say, “How could you give that movie four stars?” I reply, “What in my review did you disagree with?” Invariably, they’re stuck for an answer. One thing I try to do is provide an accurate account of what you will see, and how I feel about it. I cannot speak for you. Any worthwhile review is subjective. If we completely disagree, my words might nevertheless be useful or provocative. If you disagree with what I write, be my guest. If you disagree with how many stars I gave it, you can mail your opinion to where the sun don’t shine.

While Ebert was routinely accused of being far too favorable in his reviews — he didn’t love the star rating system, by the way — while admitting he had specific fondnesses and dislikes as any person and while he attempted to also appeal to the public expectations of a movie, he was also able to deliver gut-shots like:

Young men: If you attend this crap with friends who admire it, tactfully inform them they are idiots. Young women: If your date likes this movie, tell him you’ve been thinking it over, and you think you should consider spending some time apart.

That was for Battle: Los Angeles, a film which, at least by Rotten Tomatoes tracking, was enjoyed by the roughly 50% of people who saw it.

So, while giving out “too many stars,” he also routinely hated movies a significant portion of the audience did enjoy.

He wasn’t “right” for trashing a movie or “right” for loving a movie. He was giving a subjective review of the thing he was expected to review.

Wrestling is entertainment, entertainment is art — even when it’s not particularly artistic — and art should hold up to criticism. And consumers of criticism, positive and negative, should be able to take in the reviews and ratings and determine the degree to which they value them.

And, if you don’t think something should be held to critical standards, you should probably stop calling it art.

We did it, we made it to Friday.

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