Sideband #3: Good vs Like

While we’re on the topic of important distinctions, let’s also try to draw a line between the idea of liking something and the idea that something is good.

Very often people conflate the two. For example, that a “good” movie is a  movie they liked.

In fact good and like are different measurements, and I wish more people understood the difference.

The idea of good speaks to the quality of something. A good piece of furniture is a quality piece of furniture. It is made well. Likewise, a good movie is a movie that is made well.

There are objective criteria you can use to determine whether a movie is a good movie or a bad movie.

It depends a bit on exactly what you mean by good, so determining the goodness requires defining your terms. Are we talking just about the production values? Those are fairly easy to judge very much as we can easily judge the quality of a piece of furniture.

But if we’re talking about the quality of the script, editing, acting or camera work, it can be harder to evaluate objectively. There is a matter of choices made, and this must be considered. Generally, if the choices are understood, the quality can be judged in light of those choices.

The point is that there are objective criteria that can be applied, and most people familiar with the criteria will agree (more or less) on the judgement.

Whether you like something is purely a matter of taste. We sometimes use the phrase “guilty pleasures” to describe something we like, but which we know to be… well, not very good.

(Sometimes that translates to “low brow,” but that’s a whole different discussion.)

As they say, “There’s no accounting for taste.”

Just don’t confuse what you like and what is good (quality).

About Wyrd Smythe

The canonical fool on the hill watching the sunset and the rotation of the planet and thinking what he imagines are large thoughts. View all posts by Wyrd Smythe

One response to “Sideband #3: Good vs Like

  • d.c.b.

    I’ve said for a long time time that the Harry Potter movies are not very good, but I do like them a lot since I’m such a fan.

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