Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Ratings System

The whole brouhaha between Meryl Streep and Donald Trump is silly enough, but one thing that strikes me as odd is how some have tried to defend Streep from the claim she's overrated.

Here's a good example--a headline in The Hollywood Reporter: "Meryl Streep, Dubbed "Over-Rated" by Donald Trump, Nabs Her 15th BAFTA Nomination."

The headline seems to imply "so take that!" But of course, the whole point of being overrated is everyone thinks you're better than you are, and every award you get helps prove that.

I think the problem is people have been using the terms "overrated" and "underrated" lazily.  The first now seems to mean not that good, and the second really good.

Not too long ago a friend of mine insisted Robert Duvall was underrated.  I said that's ridiculous--he's won an Oscar and been nominated for seven, and also won an Emmy.  In fact, he's won countless awards for his acting.  The Guinness Book Of World Records used to list him as the world's most versatile actor.  He is recognized by just about everyone--the public, his peers, critics--as a fine actor.  It's not possible he's underrated.

Then there's overrated.  Look at someone like Louis C. K.  A lot of people act like he's one of the top three or four comedians around, and I think he's only in the top fifteen.  So if I said Louis C. K. is overrated, I think I'd be right.  And yet many would take offense.  They might even start listing all the awards he's won.


Blogger ColumbusGuy said...

I doubt your definitions. It seems inherent that anyone to whom the term is applied is already a topic of discussion, i.e., rated. If so, it pretty much follows that they are "not that good" in relation to how they are generally publicly discussed, or "really good," given that they start from a base point of already being recognized.

3:19 AM, January 11, 2017  
Blogger LAGuy said...

So all those Oscar nominations help prove Meryl Streep isn't overrated?

9:22 AM, January 11, 2017  
Blogger ColumbusGuy said...

Only if you have faith in Oscar nominations, which I am confident neither of us has.

I'm saying only that the way you defined them is a bit problematic, and that the common usage isn't so terrible. I agree that, as with so many words, useful and interesting subtleties are lost in the common usage.

4:13 PM, January 11, 2017  

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