New Years Resolution: Regarding Cynicism

I dislike resolutions.  I dislike what they do to my brain the rest of the year.  If there is something worth making a resolution about then you probably shouldn’t have to wait until you start writing on a new calendar and you should instead just start doing it and the idea of New Years Resolutions makes me not want to start doing something until I get to a neat round number of a date.

It’s probably the same reason I strongly dislike Valentine’s day.  Someone can be a filthy scum-weasel to their significant other all year round and get a free pass if they take them to Paris on Februrary 14th.  Similar with “Christmas spirit” (as in good cheer, not drinking before noon), you should be a good and cheerful person all year round, not just when the world tells you to buy a few cards and presents.

With that being said, with 2012 rolling around, it got me thinking about what I would like to change about myself.  I considered that maybe doing a bit of exercise might be a good idea, drinking less would also be good and possibly being a little more generally organised in terms of diet and lifestyle, but to be honest I’m in a good place with all of that.  The thing that I really want to change is my attitude towards things.  It’s not that I have a particularly bad attitude towards life in general and I consider myself optimistic and irritatingly chirpy at times, but when it comes to media and entertainment, I have been passively brainwashed to hate and despise everything without giving it a fair chance.

Cynicism is cool.  Slamming something is the new clever thing to do.  Being critical and negative is not necessarily easier than being positive, but it is far more entertaining for both reader and writer.  In terms of reviews, negative reviews are just more popular and allow a writer a greater opportunity to be witty and have a little fun with their turn of phrase.  I’m not saying that everything should be positive and that everyone should praise everything that gets made – that would after all lead to bad things doing well and getting made over and over again – but things should be given a better chance.  Too many products have not been given a fair chance and been consigned to the oblivion of negativity when actually there were some great aspects to them.

It takes ages to make things. The time that went into drawing this collection of my comics characters is a huge amount of time compared to the amount of time you will spend looking at it.  That’s always the way with anything entertainment related.

This year, I intend to get into the habit of trying to see the best in everything, be it film, book, comic, game, TV show or otherwise.  I have had first hand experience now at how much time and effort goes in to making all of those things, so it’s horrible to think that all that hard work can be crushed by a single review that took a tiny fraction of the time to throw together.

I’m not even saying that in the past I’ve been overly harsh on things.  All of my reviews at Bit-Tech were positive if not necessarily particularly high scoring because everything I played I truly enjoyed.  I wasn’t being bought off by publishers, there wasn’t an editorial command saying I had to give something a good review, I just genuinely enjoyed everything I played on some level.  I think the only review that approached a negative outcome was From Dust, but that still had many redeeming points.  Despite this, I still have a snap reaction to say “oh that’s rubbish!” about certain things only to later realise that I have never actually seen said thing and am parroting a review or sentiment I’ve picked up from somewhere else, and I’m sick of falling into that trap.  I’m sick of passing judgment on something I have no knowledge about and I know it’s not just me that does it.

As an example, a couple of nights ago I refused to watch Signs because it was a terrible film, only to think for a moment and realise that I’d never actually seen it.  After watching it, I was shocked to see that it was actually quite an interesting film.  Not great and not without its problems, but still good and definitely not terrible.

There are films that I like that I feel I shouldn’t like, games I enjoy that others detest, and I’m not going to be ashamed of that anymore.  If I like something, I’m going to say “I like that” and give a reason why.

I liked Signs because it had a ground level view of a large scale alien invasion to the point that you only saw it happening through the eyes of a family trapped in a basement.  I liked X Men Origins: Wolverine because it had a beautiful opening sequence and a decent character relationship between Logan and Sabretooth.  I liked the first Transformers film because it entertained me and had some excellent action set-pieces, even if the camera moves are shaking all over the place.  I liked the Street Fighter film because Raul Julia’s M.Bison is just so much fun to watch.

There are lots of things I shouldn’t like, so I’m going to spend 2012 finding things that I think I don’t like and putting myself right.  The world is full of negativity and nay-saying and people just stopping themselves from enjoying life.  Not to sound like a Hallmark card, but I’m cutting that out of my life right now.  Cynicism is a brilliant tool to protect you from dross and entertainment that will probably rot your brain, but I and most of the world have taken it too far.  It’s time to offer constructive criticism and to say what you do like instead of what you don’t.

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