Hot Takes: The Spiciest of Opinions

I just left the theater and I’ve gotta say *movie title*  was just the worst thing I’ve ever seen.

I just finished playing *new video game* and it was an unmitigated disaster.

Your game stinks. That movie you like is horrible. How could you be so stupid as to like that thing you like? How dare you not see things my way! You can’t silence me because these are all my opinions.

Take a breath everyone. Breathe in, Breathe out. Have you achieved your inner peace?

You’ve just withstood an intense barrage of hot takes about popular culture. They sure can be obnoxious eh?

A classic hot take is basically defined as an opinion that takes an extreme view, typically produced quickly in response to something recent or popular, without providing any further reasoning to back it up.

A recent example would be the deluge of comments about Disney’s Solo: A Star Wars Story. My opinion non-withstanding, the reactions have been varied.

It’s been out a short time and has performed lower than expected in the box office. This has led to a lot of spicy opinions that are taking advantage of the situation. These hot takes are made in order to draw attention to the speaker or to affirm a bias. They might be negative or positive, but rarely is an opinion given that’s well thought out and researched.

These hot takes rarely lead to civil and well-structured conversation. Instead they incite controversy and magnify a perceived slight in a way that tends to blow everything out of proportion. Internet forums, social media, and online video add to the cacophony and keep the controversy alive.

So why do we do this? Why can’t we try to reason through our misgivings about a specific property and just have a real, meaningful conversation?

I think the the answer is complicated. We are passionate about the things we enjoy, and perhaps that passion causes extreme reactions when the thing in question goes against expectations.

Sadly in today’s media we thrive on controversy. Not every pop culture media outlet is guilty of this, but it’s far more common than it should be. Click-bait articles and videos attempt to elicit an emotional response in order to get you to interact with them. Internet personalities thrive on anger and other negative emotions in order to sell their opinions to you (Angry Joe, Zero Punctuation, CinemaSins, etc). I’m not saying that there isn’t a place for that type of criticism, but it doesn’t need to be as overwhelmingly represented.

I personally think that a good way to sort of “soften” the blow that criticism can have, and also allow for better discussion is to no longer rate the media we consume. An arbitrary number at the end of a review only allows for weaker discussion and more impassioned reactions. It cheapens the work that the author put into their review in the first place.

Reviews are subjective by nature, and that’s a great thing. We aren’t robots. We don’t all have to agree. However, a good review will thoughtfully dissect the product, whether it be game, movie, book, etc, and provide a thoughtful outlook. That outlook might be negative or positive, but at least a good reviewer knows to not resort to knee-jerk reactions and loaded statements.

Another way authors and media journalists can try to drive views or clicks could be with articles that challenge readers or viewers. Instead of a YouTube video called “This Game is the Worst!” (insert thumbnail with a red arrow pointing to something silly in a red circle), instead call it “This Game Challenged my Assumptions!”

That kind of video title would still lead to clicks without being deceptive and could allow a smart discussion to take place. emotions aren’t as high and real conversation can happen. It would certainly be more genuine and real than a few of the “Video Essay” YouTube personalities that are thriving on click-bait titles and flaming hot takes. A few of those personalities create a video one week condemning a game in order to create a discussion or dialogue, but then when the “conversation” goes in the opposite direction they change their views as well. A less rapid-fire hot take would allow that dialogue to take place without the flip-flopping of ideas to suit the current narrative.

It all boils down to this: Objectivity is hard. I struggle with it. Everyone does. It’s increasingly uncommon in today’s media, both in the mainstream and in popular culture. We need to try to not let our love for a property or piece of media cloud our reasoning faculties. We are better than this.

The media we consume is just a tiny thing of extreme insignificance in the long run. A small piece of mostly disposable entertainment that will most likely be forgotten in a short period of time. Allowing that media to be a crucial part of ones identity is wholly unnecessary.

When you don’t like something, or are disappointed with the latest movie, game, or book, try to find to understand why you didn’t like it. Just blurting out thoughts doesn’t help the conversation. Certainly air your grievances, but try to create discussion and broker conversation. Why didn’t you like it? What did you like? Why does the reaction of others matter to you?

Look readers, I know I’m guilty of this too. I’ve definitely had my share of supremely spicy hot takes. I’m trying my best to stay civil and level-headed in all the reporting possible for this site and my personal life. I’m trying, and so should everyone else.

I’m also aware of the irony of this editorial possibly being taken as a hot take of its own. The humor is not lost on me. However, one of the guiding principles of Batteries Fully Charged is that we strive to be as objective as possible, while trying to keep a civil discourse going. There’s a big difference between being critical and complaining. We try our hardest to stay in the intelligently critical camp.

In a time of extremes and polarizing views let’s try to think before we speak.  Maybe we can stop the anger and negativity prevalent in our society. Well, as far as pop culture goes anyway.

 

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