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My God, it’s full of stars…

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 12, 2005

For reasons which are kind of interesting in a weird way (but won’t get into right now[1]), I’ve changed the movie ratings around these parts from a 100-point scale to a 5-star scale.

And as long as we’re talking movies, I’ve gotten several emails over the past few months to the effect of: “you moron, how can you possibly justify giving the same rating to Casablanca as you gave to Barbershop?” The answer is that I’m not a movie critic (my review of Me and You and Everyone We Know didn’t even have anything to do with the actual movie) and my ratings are almost entirely subjective, except when they’re somewhat more objective. The subjective/objective ratio depends on the movie and my mood and which star is in the house of which planet and/or Greek god and hence is not to be trusted at all, unless you’re a regular reader of my “reviews” and have gotten a sense over many months just what makes me like or dislike particular movies. Also, it’s just a stupid rating. You know, for fun. Relax.

[1] Ever wondered why movie ratings assigned by critics are usually on 4 or 5-point scales and not on, say, 100-point scales? Yeah, me neither. But after using the 100-point scale for over a year, I may have discovered part of the reason. 100 is just way too many points[2]. How can there be any tangible difference between a 75 movie and a 76 movie? And when you start looking the whole list of ~220 movies ordered by rank on a 100-point scale, it gets even worse…why are the 15 movies rated 91 better than the 8 movies rated 90? From the standpoint of the rater, thinking about those one or two point differences is a big waste of energy (it gets worse with time as you try to “fit” a particular movie into the ever-lengthening ranked list) and it just confuses the reader anyway.

Also, the stars look nicer[3].

[2] Aggregated ratings (a la Metacritic) are an exception.

[3] I got the star from Zapf Dingbats (the capital H character at 16px). Astute readers will notice the similarity with the iTunes song rating stars, which is not altogether unintentional.