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john 'mr. customer' smith

You just don't get it

Is 'you just don't get it' (or any derivative of it) ever a valid argument against negative criticism?  

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    • Yes
      13
    • No
      15


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While consuming media and media critique, I'm sure you've all heard this argument in some form, used and bashed in equal measure. If someone hates something that is loved by many, that person will likely attract a comment like: 'If it's not your thing, why bother analysing it?'.

I would like to hear your opinions on this, and feel free to interpret the phrase 'not getting something' in any way you like.

Personally, while I think that the argument is often (childishly) misused, and that negative criticism can be just as valuable as promotion and positive analysis, I also think there's some truth behind it. If a piece of media appeals to you on a conceptual level, you're more likely to find deeper meaning and authorial intent than if it doesn't.

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The fact most people can't take any sort of criticism and take offense instead? Let's start from here.

7 minutes ago, john 'mr. customer' smith said:

If a piece of media appeals to you on a conceptual level, you're more likely to find deeper meaning and authorial intent than if it doesn't.

That's correct.

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33 minutes ago, Narcosis said:

The fact most people can't take any sort of criticism and take offense instead? 

Well yeah, that's a given. Also, I personally struggle with that frequently, and that's part of the reason why I asked this question in the first place.

There's a fine line between criticism and mindless negativity though, I wouldn't blame people for getting triggered by some of the reviews you find on MAL, for example

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The problem is that when you really really like something all your judgment kinda disappears, so you are even more subjective than you normally would, 

Quote

 you're more likely to find deeper meaning and authorial intent than if it doesn't.

while this could be true and some times that's the case, the truth is that most of the times it's not a "deeper meaning", the person is just being obstinate, then again if you like something and you read it tons of times there is a chance that you could actually comprehend and grab things that normally a person that reads such material one time wouldn't, maybe you like it so much that you are even studying it so you understand of such material goes beyond a simple reading... but then again the chances of that are really slim, probably that person is just being stubborn and doesnt like to hear criticism towards the thing he/she loves so much :P 

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I think that the "you just don't get it" argument comes up especially because enjoying things is so subjective to our own personal tastes. I think it's valid to say that some people don't get it mainly because XYZ genre isn't their cup of tea. I've had arguments on things that I like which most other people agree are absolutely terrible. I understand their point of view but I still enjoy said thing regardless and I think it's just a matter of personal taste or some sort of connection with whatever you're arguing for.

It just comes down to the fact that we all have different tastes and that we'll always be salty because those with bad taste will never "get it." :makina:

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19 minutes ago, Deep Blue said:

The problem is that when you really really like something all your judgment kinda disappears, so you are even more subjective than you normally would.

Liking something doesn't instantly cross out objectivism. It's mostly people's fault for their inability to treat things differently on case by case basis, i.e. instantly pidgeonholing everything according to a single mindset.

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I feel like the phrase "you just don't get it" is the product of a complete failure to understand your own subjectivity. The bottom line is that everything can be viewed in a negative light when viewed in a certain perspective, regardless of any authorial intent. I also find authorial intent to be a completely worthless piece of evidence in counter criticism, while it is interesting to know where the author is coming form, it should not restrict your own personal interpretation of the material. For example I nearly completely destroyed Madoka Magica for a friend when I mentioned that the writer stated in a interview that Kyouko and Sayaka would have become a romantic couple had they survived the events of the show. I had to talk him out of burning his dvds (the backwards homophobic shithead) by reminding him that regardless of the authors' view on the character's relationship, nothing in the show clearly expressed romantic interest and much of it was left to interpretation. 

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If you like something then why does it matter what others think? It is like how many people like Sword Art Online on one hand, but there are many others that bash it on the other. If you are looking at reviews then I would just use it as a starting point.

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It depend on the negative review there I think. If the review for example only said something alike 'I don't understand this game, and therefore this game was only for stupid people' or something like that, it'll be valid argument for sure because the reviewer didn't give some useful feedback there. But if the reviewer give such good feedback (ie the explanation of why he didn't like it), I think it'll be invalid argument for sure because it'll only made the user who said 'You didn't get it' look stupid (Although if there is who said that, the reviewer could attempt to give sound argument there). In the end, it's very subjective here if we talk about the topic and I leave it to each of their own here.

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Depends on the audience, the aim of the game, and the criticizing person's nuanced view on the game. That person could have prioritized an aspect of the game that is not the reason people play that game (e.g. playing a musou for the story) and could be bashing it in respect to that while not considering the rest, or it could -in a slightly different context- mean that someone is simply not the targeted audience for a game and that that's okay. 

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'you just don't get it' is a valid enough statement if that person have tried to understand the work. There is a difference between knowing you don't enjoy something and simply not understanding it.

Say you got a title with a lot of slice of life (lets say clannad). One guy might rant about how it contains too much filler, shit isn't going anywhere. He might "get it" from all I know. But that statement is rather ignorant of the genre honestly. If you say you dislike this kind of stuff because it has too much slice of life. I can't enjoy it. It's pretty clear he he knows why he doesn't like it, and it's his jaded opinion on the matter. He doesn't think its wrong. I don't think it's either.

Problem I have is people ranting around sounding like they have a authoritative opinion on the subject. But they clearly haven't understood what might be good about the work. Nor have they even tired. That should be apparent from the lack of brain cells required to understand it. 

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I voted "no", but it really depends. There are indeed some works that depend heavily on double meanings, background knowledge, or that are based on theories and information that not all may know - and thus it wouldn't be understood.

However, basing your argument on "you don't get it" would be very shallow and show that the person doesn't get the work at all. I don't think anything should be inacessible to all, so if the story, song or wtv is too hard to understand and be apreciated by many, maybe the problem is not with the audience.

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If I had a nickle every time I was told that I simply "didn't get" Little Busters...

You can get something, and still think its stupid as hell. 

I do think that someone who likes a work that is being critiqued, will generally be better equipped to argue about it, and defend it simply because they like it and will devote time to it. If I don't care for something, I'm not going to spend a ton of time trying to explain away every aspect of what forms my opinion. 

"I just don't like it" or "I just like it" are perfectly reasonable defenses in my eyes. Not helpful in terms of explaining, but they are valid. But saying someone's opinion is invalid because "they didn't understand it" is wrong. Everyone will have different takeaways from various works. We all interpret things differently. Maybe the drapes are blue because someone believes it represents a characters sorrow, and adds to that. Or maybe they are blue because a character simply likes the color blue. Unless the author explicitly comes out and gives us the "understanding" its open for interpretation. 

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1 minute ago, Silvz said:

However, basing your argument on "you don't get it" would be very shallow and show that the person doesn't get the work at all. I don't think anything should be inacessible to all, so if the story, song or wtv is too hard to understand and be apreciated by many, maybe the problem is not with the audience.

when i say 'based on' I really mean emotional equivalent. the kind of emotion that would lead a child to say 'you just don't get it' would would lead a more mature person to say something like 'if you don't like the genre, why do you even bother criticizing it?' which is a lot more intelligent, I think

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49 minutes ago, solidbatman said:

"I just don't like it" or "I just like it" are perfectly reasonable defenses in my eyes. Not helpful in terms of explaining, but they are valid. But saying someone's opinion is invalid because "they didn't understand it" is wrong. Everyone will have different takeaways from various works. We all interpret things differently. Maybe the drapes are blue because someone believes it represents a characters sorrow, and adds to that. Or maybe they are blue because a character simply likes the color blue. Unless the author explicitly comes out and gives us the "understanding" its open for interpretation. 

Yeah, you're probably right.

Alright, I love the replies and how divided the opinions are so far.

Just as an example I'm going to provide my (extremely polarized) opinion on Paprika. A film that is well loved by critics, otakus and normies alike, but is not without criticism. (mostly about weak plot/characters, deus ex machina ending etc.)

I think people that criticize it this way just don't get it, or at least miss the point of the film. Because Paprika is not about the plot, or even really about the characters. It's all about the direction. It's all about the imagery. Inception (which took a lot of inspiration from this, incidentally) is a great film by all rational means, but like all other films about dreaming, it lacks one thing: it doesn't actually feel like a dream. Not really. Paprika does. I believe no man other than Kon could have done this. No other person could have taken ideas and images that most people don't even remember when they wake up, and express them so vividly in pictures.

And that, In my opinion, is SO much more interesting and valuable than the critical idea of 'perfection'

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'You just don't get it' broken down to its basic components is merely an ad hominem. 

People like to validate the things they like, as if they need a good reason for liking it. 'You just don't get it' shifts the blame for not liking it onto the person and away from the piece of media in question. It's no longer due to faults in the media, and everything is okay with the world.

Depending on how its used, it could be a logical fallacy.

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1 minute ago, Darklord Rooke said:

'You just don't get it' shifts the blame for not liking it onto the person and away from the piece of media in question. It's no longer due to faults in the media, and everything is okay with the world.

A book by itself is just a collection of scribbles on paper. It only becomes a story by being processed by a brain, and every brain is different. putting all the blame on a piece of media is just as stupid as putting all the blame on the person consuming it.

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Just now, john 'mr. customer' smith said:

A book by itself is just a collection of scribbles on paper. It only becomes a story by being processed by a brain, and every brain is different. putting all the blame on a piece of media is just as stupid as putting all the blame on the person consuming it.

Don't worry, there's plenty of blame to go around.

The CREATORS of that piece of media would definitely warrant a significant portion of that blame, being the original authors behind what could have been a very silly bunch of scribbles (like Little Busters ...)

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So, if I'm correctly understanding some examples of what you meant, I think part of the disagreement here is caused by people being too fixated on the original phrasing.

I think it's perfectly valid to say "I just like it" about something, especially in reference to some specific, well-thought-through aspect or property. Similarly, it's equally valid in the same circumstances to say "I just don't like it", about the same thing. Bolverk's example of slice-of-life is a good starting point: plenty of people have experienced it, reflected on its pros and cons, and found it boring as hell; plenty of others have experienced it, reflected on its pros and cons, and can't get enough of it. Neither of those groups is holding an opinion that I can really criticize or fault them for, assuming they reached it after appropriate rational reflection (which I don't believe is an unsatisfiable assumption). Like you said, I don't think a mature person in either of those two groups would say "you just don't get it" to someone on the other side, but they might very well say "I just [don't] like it", and be perfectly justified.

Assuming that's a valid reframing of the original question, at any rate, that's my two cents.

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I'd say it just depends. If you're talking about taste, every opinion is welcome and equally valid. Tastes differ, after all.

If you're talking about scientific data or a hardware's specs and such, there's objective facts.

Objectivity exists, it's just that most people ponder it differently, and thus subjectivity is born. There are some things that are objective and some are freely subjective. Have you heard about the "qualia"? It's a really interesting philosophical theme.

TL;DR if you're explaining the Newton's Laws and the pupil does the exercise wrong, he or she "just doesn't get it".

If you're talking about the latest visual novel or console or whatever, and some people adore it and other say it's shit, they're all right in their own terms.

Note that this is a subjective opinion, but as objective as I can produce ;)

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Pretty much of the same opinion as Okarin.

I feel it's a valid expression esp. for objective matters - a good example would be some circumstances I'm dealing with - many like to think they know what I'm going through, and how easy/hard it is - based on assumptions alone, etc. But unless you are going through it first-hand, all your doing is talking out of your ass - even if it's with good intentions (bless my parents, they mean well - but they're the sort i'm most tempted to say "you just don't get it". and not in a polite way, heh) Basically, it's a line of thought where it's a clear difference between experience and ignorance. You can never know what it's like to give birth, unless you've actually done so, etc. (odd example, but apt.)

 

As for matters of taste, well - you can try to explain why you like "X" to someone that doesn't like "X" - and sometimes a middleground can be reached, but it's dependent on why both parties like/dislike "X".

Example - I really cannot stomach rape or torture in VNs (so things like Maggotbaits, Euphoria, etc) - primarily because I'm close to someone that suffered a dark and grisly hell earlier in their life. So, I just cannot fathom taking any kind of pleasure from reading portrayals of that kind of suffering - even though it's obviously "not real".

But, that being said - it's purely based on my bond with the one involved. Someone that doesn't know the person - and cannot associate with such a dark subject in terms of "real life" will more easily just take it for the story it is.  (take my enjoyment of standing off against the cops in the GTA series - the carnage is cathartic - but if I had been a victim/or knew a victim of some massive shooting in recent history, I suspect I'd be harder pressed to find enjoyment in it. Ultimately taste is a subjective matter.

 

Anyway, that's my thoughts on "You just don't get it". Note: I volunteered those examples, but I would be grateful if no one derails the thread by focusing on the exact content in the examples themselves. Instead, stay on the topic of objectivity vs subjectivity. Thanks :sachi:

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