EDITORIAL: The Difference: Overrated & Overexposed

Let's have a look-see at what we say and what we mean when we say things are "overrated." Is Chris Nolan "overrated?" Is The Avengers? Believe it or not, there is a finite answer.

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By BattlinMurdock - 11/17/2012
Once again, I wrote and published this article on another site, but wish to publish it here as well to spark debate. I don't care whether or not that it makes main, just so that it gets people talking and thinking. Got opinions? Good. That's what it's here for.



As a film student, I love the word “overrated.” I use it all the time. That filmmaker is overrated. That movie? Completely overrated. It’s a word that even makes its way into my daily vocabulary on a plethora of different subjects. Fedoras? Overrated. Trench coats? Overrated. Pulling off a convincing Humphrey Bogart? Priceless. But in all seriousness, it became numero uno on my top-ten list of favorite words, which is also something that I once considered highly overrated.

But I soon realized that this is not, nor has ever really been the word that I’m meaning to use. Not that I can’t find a use for it. I just want to find the proper use for it. So, that means I’ll have to turn to the correct definition of “overrated.”

o·ver·rate
tr.v.o·ver·rat·ed, o·ver·rat·ing, o·ver·rates: To overestimate the merits of; rate too highly. – via The Free Dictionary

So, in looking at that definition, I need to look at the merit of the subject in question. I’ll start off simply. We’ll go back to my fedora example. Now, the fedora is a hat, which is used for two primary reasons: that of fashion and that to cover the head. The fashion branch is a subjective one, pertaining to an particular statement of style. The act of covering the head is objective; something all hats should do whether in style or not. Now that we’ve broken down those two, quite obvious pieces, let’s go a little deeper.

But to keep it interesting, and considering this is a pop culture site, we’ll turn our focus to film. Namely, directors. More specifically, a chap named Christopher Nolan.



I will not lie to you. I’m far from a Nolan “fan.” Especially when his writing is concerned. I find it clunky, unnatural, and incredibly, unabashedly expository. But if you ask me if I think he’s a good director? I’ll tell you that I think he’s one of the top ten contemporary filmmakers of this day and age. And I’ll tell you that because he’s a practical director. He films on film (though digital directors produce great work as well), sparsely uses computer generated images unless absolutely necessary, and dedicates himself to his projects entirely. As a director, he takes a stance on being genuinely inventive and outgoing with his work. In doing so, he provides half the definition of what I consider a great director.

The other half is that of entertaining. Because it makes no sense to have what Nolan has and then produce complete schlock. Schlock without merit, without credential, and without standing doesn’t get you an audience. Nolan is successful because his films do have a major audience and that audience wants to see more of his work. So, how does this play into the definition of “overrated?”

Nolan is a director who, objectively, fulfills the first part of a director’s duty when it comes to the process of movie-making. Painstakingly incorporating inventive vision, mechanics, and techniques to narrative storytelling that he, in his mind and position, will produce the optimum entertainment through his medium for an audience. That is his job, like that of the hat covering the head. It’s where we get into the subjective of whether his films entertain you is the issue. Your taste.

But before I go into that, I have to ask (and I hope you’ll be honest with yourself): is single, subjective taste enough to warrant something of being “overrated?” The word seems to have connotations of being outdated, unnecessary, and unwarranted. For a single person to stand above a crowd and say, “Shoes are overrated,” in the midst of people standing on hot coals, surely one would see the absurdity and likely be vocal about it. A member of the crowd states, “Why are they overrated?” and the opponent shouts back, “Because they’re ugly!” It’s a matter of opinion vs. practicality. And though it seems like an extreme, ludicrous example, is it far from what happens with film? How often have you heard this:

"Citizen Kane is overrated! It’s slow, boring, and there’s nothing about the story that seems refreshing or new!"



But this statement seems to completely overlook the practicality of what Citizen Kane did for the industry. It’s no secret that Kane was predominantly lambasted at its initial debut. But it’s studied for being a technical marvel and for being inventive with camera angles, set design, and narrative storytelling. It’s often dissected into its elements of directing, acting, writing; but its place in the history of cinema is mostly cemented by how the film was made. And because that feature has been studied time and time again and remains a crucial part of the cinematic school of thought, it’s fairly impossible for it to be “overrated.” By its own objective merits, what it has already accomplished and inspired has bonded itself to be a necessary component of the history of film. It’s perfectly fine to dislike Kane, even by those objective merits. You can think of them in subjective terms. But to deny the movie’s influence is absurd and ignorant. And influence is what keeps it from being “overrated.”

“Overexposed,” however, is free game. You hear Citizen Kane raves from your pompous film friend all the time. It’s on everyone’s favorite lists, normally near the top. Or “Christopher Nolan is the world’s greatest director!” is all you read on comic sites or movie forums. “Spike Lee is the voice of my generation!” and you never stop hearing about Spike Lee. When you’re constantly being thrown opinions about a director or project or any subject, it often doesn’t matter how well-merited it is; you can still be put off by it. Because “overexposed” looks into the subject not necessarily as it’s perceived, but as it’s documented. And as human beings, we can’t constantly have the same thing shoved down our throats all the time.

You can like The Avengers without thinking Joss Whedon needs to take on Star Wars, Star Trek, and Battlestar Galactica. You can think what Nolan did with Batman was the best thing to ever happen with that franchise. But no one will blame you if all you’re hearing is “Nolan this” and “Whedon that” 24/7. It’s a case of overexposure. It may have next to nothing to do with their abilities as filmmakers. You just need something new and fresh.

Shakespeare is not overrated, though he may be overexposed. Michael Jordan is not overrated, though his basketball legend is overexposed. Daniel Day-Lewis is not overrated, though he may get overexposed. Star Wars' impact on the industry keeps it from being overrated. But it's always fair game when it comes to overexposure.

Can movies and filmmakers still be overrated? Yes. They can. But the word is more-often used in a subjective sense than one that looks at the big picture. It’s important that we look into the full merits and credentials of the subject we volley as “overrated.” Because if their influence is, indeed, overrated, unhelpful, and completely perverse, then we have lots of schools of thought to reestablish.
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194 Comments
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95 - 11/17/2012, 3:39 PM
I like that—"Overexposed". Good point.
jingorot - 11/17/2012, 4:32 PM
Thumbs up from me.
Tainted87 - 11/17/2012, 5:10 PM
I like this article, but honestly - I can't see it making that much of an impact here. I mean this site is all about exposure.

Trust me, I understand your point - but I think few people actually care about the difference in their vocabulary.
Preston - 11/17/2012, 5:27 PM
@BM

Great Article:


Clap

I agree that Nolan is a great director; a master craftsman. In fact, probably one of the best of our era. He can take a horrible script and still churn out movies that are better than most directors with good scripts (see: Rises). However, I don't think that he was the best man for Batman (see: Guillermo del Torro or Alex Proyas); however, he is light years superior to Joel Schumacher [a studio 'yes' man].

The problem isn't Nolan; it's his delusional fan base (The Nolanites). I think that sending death threats to critics who have seen the movie and give a movie a negative review is abnormal, especially, when they (the fans) themselves haven't seen the movie yet (see: Rotten Tomatoes). The Nolanite fanbase isn't objective at all; they are flaming biased. They act like brainwashed-sheeple. When I read their posts scattered around the Internet (typically, their intolerance of others opinions and their praise of everything Nolan), I've realized that they all regurgitate the same 5-10 things over and over.


Nolanites - Demotivational Poster

JDUKE25 - 11/17/2012, 5:36 PM
Nolan is a good director, that much is clear. Everything else is someones opinion. With TDKR itself, I don't think it's overrated, because honestly, most everywhere I've seen people think it was good but had a decent amount of flaws and don't think it was the best of the trilogy. And I would agree. It was good, but not the best in the trilogy. For me it goes in order from BB, TDK, TDKR in terms favorites.

Avengers is overrated. I'm sorry, it is. Cheesy dialogue, terrible camera angles, a very generic storyline and, excluding the Hulk and Chitauri, terrible green screen effects and CG. Loki was awesome though. It was fun and exciting the first time I saw it and for the most part the second time, but it's not a movie I can watch over and over. The more I watch it, the more I dislike it.
Grayson7954 - 11/17/2012, 5:38 PM
fantastic article, you write insanely well
JDUKE25 - 11/17/2012, 5:44 PM
@Nomis true dat
CaptainObvious - 11/17/2012, 5:44 PM
@Preston- Didn't Marvel fanboys send misogynistic comments and death threats to a female review who didn't like The Avenger? I'm not saying what Nolanites do is excusable, but what the Marvelites did was unacceptable and disgusting.
Supes17 - 11/17/2012, 5:47 PM
It all comes down to personal taste and opinion.
kenechokeesey - 11/17/2012, 5:48 PM
You know what's also overrated using words correctly. For instance plethora meaning an over abundance. Unless you were using to comment on the fact that you don't know enough words to describe movies besides overrated or overexposed.
Supes17 - 11/17/2012, 5:49 PM
But God forbid one point a finger at a Marvel Supremacist!

That will get you crucified and labeled as a "Nolanite" immediately :P
Funsize - 11/17/2012, 5:51 PM
Random article but lots of good points though so well done :)
GorgoniteScum - 11/17/2012, 5:52 PM
I don't think any "fan base" is objective. Right or wrong that's kind of the point of a fan base.
IIIAdamantiumIII - 11/17/2012, 5:54 PM
This article is overrated
JDUKE25 - 11/17/2012, 6:01 PM
@MrEko lmao that gif is hilarious
CaptainObvious - 11/17/2012, 6:01 PM
@AmericanPsycho- Or out of your username, in some cases.
Theophilis - 11/17/2012, 6:02 PM
I wasn't aware that the two terms were mutually exclusive
thatdylhooper - 11/17/2012, 6:04 PM
Mister ACTION JACKSON..... Get off the smodcast network.... Ur not wanted there
Supes17 - 11/17/2012, 6:04 PM
I feel a little "overexposed"at the moment ;)
THEDARKKNIGHT1939 - 11/17/2012, 6:05 PM
It's a shame that if I defend Nolan's Batman movies that I am considered a nolanite...
IDKwhatToChoose - 11/17/2012, 6:06 PM
wow people bashing this article and calling it over-rated... I wonder if they even read the article and the high praise that you gave Nolan. Probably not, probably just read the title and freaked out and decided to come on here and protect their King. You did a great job on this. Here is to hoping you start contributing more!!!


Ok I don't post pics but if I did there would be a mug of beer right above this sentence :p
JokerFan21 - 11/17/2012, 6:10 PM
True.
alekesam - 11/17/2012, 6:22 PM
Good god yes. I don't hate Nolan or his ability to direct a film. I hate his fans. If it wasn't for the fans (zealots really) I wouldn't want to duck bringing the guy's name up in movie conversations.
RSDhillon - 11/17/2012, 6:31 PM
Goddammit, why do we label each other "fanboys", "Marvelites", "Nolanites" (And why isn't there a label for DC guys in general)???
rockerdude22 - 11/17/2012, 6:33 PM
Honestly, it all depends on your own personal opinion or taste. Not everyone's going to like the same thing that you do. One might think something is "overrated", and another may not.

There's only two things that really bug me. These are when people get upset over someone having a different opinion than they do, and when someone acts like their opinion is fact. I see quite a bit of that here.

But seriously, we all just need to learn how to respect an opposing opinion and not get upset if someone doesn't like something you do.
ricko8687 - 11/17/2012, 6:33 PM
Really insightful article, now only if all fan boys could be as objective, and appreciate a great comicbook movie . And stop so much of the bashing.
HeadPool420 - 11/17/2012, 6:36 PM
Why do people call Batman a "Superhero"? He's a human in a suit with gadgets and yes his body is trained to the peak of perfection plus he's smart(well the comic version is smart) But he has no powers or nothing super. I always thought of him as a hero or crimefighter/vigilante but not a Superhero. Just a random stoner thought not trying to start anything haha
rockerdude22 - 11/17/2012, 6:37 PM
@WesleyGibson Well said, dude. I totally agree! I don't watch films to be educated or learn some new lesson about life. I watch them to be entertained. I'll never understand people that have to go out of their way to bash on something they don't like. Don't like it? Don't watch or talk about it!
marvel54 - 11/17/2012, 6:38 PM
avengers>tdkr
rockerdude22 - 11/17/2012, 6:39 PM
But seriously, great article BattlinMurdock! Very interesting read!
HBarnill - 11/17/2012, 6:40 PM
I'm a nolanite and I loved this article. It's ok to be a fan of a certain director. However, it's not ok to send death threats over something you don't agree on. This goes out to the nolanites that give us a bad name and the marvelites who criticize everything that isn't Whedon. There's being passionate, and there's being psychotic.
rockerdude22 - 11/17/2012, 6:41 PM
I like both Avengers and TDKR, but I like them for different reasons! But, I'll be honest, if I had to pick one or the other, it would have to be Avengers. But, that's just because I found it to be a much more enjoyable film. I can most likely watch Avengers over and over, but unfortunately, I don't think I can say the same for TDKR. Just my opinion, though.
ArtisticErotic - 11/17/2012, 6:47 PM
Marvel and DC = Both overrated and overexposed. That's not opinion it's fact. But since they are so in demand we keep getting more from them.

rockerdude22 - 11/17/2012, 6:51 PM
@WesleyGibson Oh no, I get what you mean haha. Films can sometimes do more than entertain, but in the end, they're made for entertainment. Yep, I agree.
nikgrid - 11/17/2012, 6:54 PM
Well thought out article. But of course in walk the geniuses who throw around Nolanite this...Marvelite that.

IMHO I think that Christopher Nolan is not over rated (Over exposed certainly) He restored a dead in the water franchise and did what Richard Donner did when he made Superman...He made people see that CBMs could be taken seriously. As for Whedon again IMHO I think he is Over rated & Over exposed. Don't get me wrong I like Whedons work but he did not change or revolutionise Television and The Avengers while an entertaining movie is not groundbreaking at all.

Again great article.
Zordan - 11/17/2012, 6:55 PM
avengers is cartoon comparing to tdkr
rockerdude22 - 11/17/2012, 6:56 PM
Honestly, both Nolan and Whedon are good directors and for different reason. Seriously, their styles are so different that it's strange to even compare them.
rockerdude22 - 11/17/2012, 6:57 PM
Apples and oranges, I say
CaptainObvious - 11/17/2012, 6:58 PM
@nikgrid- The Avengers was groundbreaking in the way it was the first crossover ever in cinema. Taking all these characters from different franchises and putting them into one film is bold. Establishing them individually and leading up to that one film is even bolder.
BIGBMH - 11/17/2012, 6:58 PM
This article is overrated.

Just kidding. Nice job. I see your point. Overexposed does seem like a more accurate term to reflect subjective assessments.
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