Industry Rant: The Meta-Score Fallacy

I use metacritic a good amount. It seems like a fantastic idea to form a huge amalgam-review from all the individual voices out there. But there's been something bothering me for a long while.

Check this:

On the left is films. Wide releases are at the top, limited (indie, foreign) releases are at the bottom. See all that yellow? See all that red? Now. Music is on the right. Music appears to be limited to only wide releases. By which I mean there are no 'limited' releases.

Look at all that fucking green. What is that? There are... SEVEN MIXED REVIEWS and NO BAD ONES. You actually mean to tell me that ALL featured music is that good? Do musicians get a grading curve? Is a prerequisite of music critique being addicted to Xanax? If all music was this good- all MAINSTREAM music, mind you- nobody would be able to figure out what to purchase at the store and everyone would listen to every genre. Every genre would also not have any varying degrees of quality production- everything would be green. Like it appears here. But it's not. So.

Hypothesis 1: All the music is actually this good, and films, especially wide-release ones, are just so incredibly bad that they deserve harsh perspective.

Refutation of Hypothesis 1: I've heard lots of this music. Most of it is not what many would call "good." When "souldj4 boiiiI!1i1" is your only red score in 6 months, your critics are broken, your scoring is questionable, or both.

Hypothesis 2: There are more film releases than movies, so there are bound to be, statistically, more bad movies.

Refutation of Hypothesis 2: I have no desire to look into the release statistics of records versus films, but I think it's safe to say there are probably plenty of releases of both and each carries a certain percentage of crap. Whether these percentages vary is not the issue- the issue is that not a single album up there has been universally panned as being the crap that it probably is. Why? Why are these albums not called crap? Also, film actually has 2 sections- one for mainstream, which features much of the crap, and one for limited, which, while featuring more good stuff and more stars and highlights, is still riddled with average and bad reviews. Music doesn't even *have* a section for limited, it seems that popular culture is all that need be reviewed. I mean, it's all just so damn good, right?

Hypothesis 3: It's a matter of taste or genre.

Refutation of Hypothesis 3: Nobody reviews films according to genre. Some music publications seem to align to genre, but we aren't talking about singular sources, metascores aggregate multitudes. It is possible that genre helps music scores because people that focus on genre are more likely to relate to that genre and harbor an inclination to be kind, while people outside of the genre will score in a more objective manner. But this would make me think that the scores would even out, and more mixed reviews would result. And if it's a matter of taste... Really? I can't see how. The MPAA and the RIAA have very similar systems of cash cow talent and mainstream milking. Similar marketing ploys. Hell I think Hollywood's adoption of the ARG (Alternate Reality Game) as a type of marketing is downright brilliant. Music doesn't do that. I'd argue that the music industry is just as much a harbinger of schlock and crap as the film industry. So why the scores? People's taste? Critics enjoy all this crap? ALL of it? I just don't see it. Is it possible that the reviews chosen per album do not accurately reflect enough of a varied sample-set of critics? Are music critics being manipulated or brainwashed?

Hypothesis 4: Musicians have it easy.

Refutation of Hypothesis 4: Hey- it's just as difficult to break into the recording industry as it is the other entertainment fields. But industry aside, I'll have to go with this one. It seems like there's just no such thing as a music critic that actually knows anything about music. There. I said it. Video game journalists seem to have a better track record than these schmoes! And video game "journalists," are mostly no-talent wankers.

Go find one of your favorite albums of the last decade, look at its metascore, then read some reviews. If you can make it through more than 3 without wanting to slap the author come tell me which albums they are. And no, one of them can't be Brian Wilson's SMILE, that doesn't count. Everyone loved that album for 7 days and proceeded to forget it ever existed.

In any case, yeah. I've been gone a while. More [on the film] soon. Needed to rant off on that tomfoolery for a bit. Metacritic should adjust their music scoring curve so that 50's and 60's amount to 20's and 30's. Or something.

I wanted to include games and books-- Games were often mixed like film, while book reviews were majorly green with singular mixed reviews and an odd "bad." But metacrit did away with book reviews years ago.