One of my favorite movies is “Pacific Rim.” It is a campy, over-the-top mix of a giant robot movie and a Kaiju movie, and it’s a complete dumpster fire.
However, one can recognize things have flaws while still enjoying them, and we’re often better off acknowledging them than ignoring them.
To take “Pacific Rim” as an example, the film ends with the heroes using a nuclear bomb to blow up the homeworld of the monsters. All in all, that doesn’t sound so bad, until you take it into a larger context. The Kaiju genre “Pacific Rim” draws on began with the 1954 film “Godzilla.” Using a nuke of all things to defeat the bad guys is nothing short of tone deaf, considering the titular monster in “Godzilla” is a metaphor for the horrors of an atomic bomb dropping on a country.
Additionally, the movie has some absolutely ridiculous moments that don’t work if you stop and think about them for more than a second. The main protagonists’ giant robot has a giant sword capable of slicing the giant monsters they fight completely in half. We don’t see that sword come into play until one of the last fights in the movie — before that, they’re just slugging it out with the robot’s bare fists.
I still really enjoy the movie despite its many flaws. However, by thinking critically about this movie’s shortcomings, I am able to have a better appreciation of other movies when they get it right.
The same process applies to our everyday lives too. I have family members who I love, and still I recognize they sometimes say things that are vaguely ableist, racist or homophobic. That doesn’t mean I can’t still love them, but being aware of those flaws means that I can make an effort to change those views and become a better person.
That’s not to say people need to forgive every flaw a person or piece of media has, though. I don’t listen to Chris Brown because I think he is an abusive jerk that hasn’t shown any real remorse for his actions. I don’t support projects Kevin Spacey is involved in anymore — but one flaw does not necessarily mean that something is entirely tainted.
Taking a critical look at the works we consume, the people we’re surrounded by or anything, really, is almost a necessity in today’s world. We are constantly bombarded with politics, disinformation on social media and advertisements. By being critical about the things and people we’re interested in, we are more easily able to expand that view into other aspects of our lives.