Sunday, November 15, 2015

I did the right thing

There's been a big upheaval in my Flickchart top 20.

Not even my top 20, but my top ten.

Not even my top ten, but my top five.

Just to give you a little perspective, not a single title in my top ten has changed, or even changed relative positions, since I finalized my re-rankings of my movies on Flickchart some four years ago. That's how solid I considered it and that's how inflexible I became in terms of how I viewed these movies and assessed their value to me.

But then, as you recall, I had a somewhat underwhelming viewing of The Empire Strikes Back, heretofore my #5 movie on Flickchart, a couple weeks ago. Now, everything has changed.

Get ready for chaos.

What happened was I was catching up on some long overdue Flickchart ranking on Friday night. I haven't been ranking much on the site lately, in part because the site is blocked at my work, and I have too much else to occupy me when I'm at home. But I did have a little window of available ranking time on Friday night, so I decided to make up for lost time.

After I'd been at it for about 20 minutes, I got the following match-up: Do the Right Thing vs. The Empire Strikes Back. My #41 vs. my #5.

Even knowing the massive implications of the decision I was about to make, I didn't think about it very long before clicking the poster on the left. I did the right thing and selected Do the Right Thing.

Which means that Do the Right Thing is now my #5 movie of all time.

But it likely won't stay there for very long. Since it was only #41 before this, that means there are 40 other movies I (think I) like better than Do the Right Thing, only four of which are currently ahead of it in my rankings. And when it comes up against any of those other 36 in a duel, any of them could jump ahead of it and become my new #5.

In order to prevent his kind of all-out anarchy, what you're supposed to do when reassessing the value of a favorite movie is re-rank just that movie. What many people would have done is just sent The Empire Strikes Back through a gauntlet of ten films in order to arrive it at its new spot in the rankings. That prevents the need to move an undeserving movie way too high, which can have a domino effect and throw a lot of other rankings out of whack for weeks, months or even years to come.

But for some reason, I don't re-rank movies after rewatching them, even though I believe philosophically that it's an approach that makes sense. I guess I'm too worried about being reminded how much I love a movie and having my fresh sense of affection for it artificially inflate its position. It's a variation on my rationale for waiting a month before ranking a new movie, to give me time to reflect on it and not let the freshness of my feelings toward it give it an unnaturally high or low position.

And so I didn't re-rank The Empire Strikes Back, in part because I wasn't sure I even trusted my new sense of doubt about its quality. But that did leave it vulnerable in the open arena of Flickchart dueling, when you never know what decision you're going to be forced to make next, and that vulnerability was exploited on Friday night.

Now if I were really concerned about this, I'd have an option open to me. I could re-rank Do the Right Thing, allowing it to fight those ten or so movies and arrive again at approximately the same spot it held before. I could do that same thing for Empire as well, which is what many people would have done in the first place, as soon as they recognized it had lost some of its value to them, and that this would have implications on all its future duels. I have a unique window of opportunity in which Do the Right Thing's jump in the ranking has not yet had any additional repercussions.

But I kind of like the idea of throwing a wrench into the works for a bit, to shake up some of the bedrock convictions that have become unhealthily fixed for me. The underlying theory about Flickchart is that over time, any kinks will work themselves out through the natural dueling process. Maybe it'll be interesting to see some new blood in my top 20 for a while, to force me to really consider the movies I love and how much I love them, rather than just making robotic choices in duels as a result of knowing by heart which movie has the higher ranking and therefore, which one I like better.

Chaos? Bring it on.

No comments: