By Tim Hayes

The old saw says, “Opinions are like a**holes – everybody’s got one.”  True enough.  But that doesn’t mean you have to let another person’s opinion steer your thinking or behavior.

Take movie reviews.  Please.  These little blasts of prejudiced (in the most literal definition of having “pre-judged” something before experiencing it) prose may be the most worthless part of a newspaper, magazine, TV show, or website.

Does it ever bug you that movie reviewers seem to judge films like “Hot Tub Time Machine” against the same standard as Olivier’s “Hamlet?”  Jeez, people — they’re not the same thing!  Please spare us your highfalutin’ haughtiness.  We know what we’re getting into when we buy our tickets.  Don’t try and make us feel stupid if you don’t have that same awareness and appropriate expectations.

I’ll take “Tommy Boy” over “A Passage to India” any day of the week.  They’re both fine movies, but polar opposites, for Cecil B. DeMille’s sake!  Don’t review them using the same yardstick, is my suggestion.  That’s all.

I just read a review of the religious film, “Son of God,” which opened this weekend.  The writer declared himself a “devout atheist” as part of the review, and his condescension, arrogance, and preening self-righteousness shone through the entire sorry spectacle he foisted onto his unguarded readers.

Now, don’t get all bent out of shape because it’s a religious picture.  That’s not the point.  The real point is wondering why a person whose deeply held opinions are so diametrically opposed to the subject matter of the film he’s reviewing was asked to review the film in the first place!  Did his editors actually believe they were going to get a reaction other than the dismissive and insulting diatribe they got?  The movie never stood a chance with this guy, so why would his review ever be worth publishing?

I prefer to make my own judgments.  To make up my own mind.  To not let anyone else do my thinking for me.

That’s also why I absolutely love C-SPAN.  When the president gives a major address, and especially during the presidential debates every four years, the rule around here is that we will not watch network coverage.  Ever.

And why?  Because the last thing I want to hear is a bunch of so-called “experts” slice and dice, pull apart, grade, degrade, and interpret what the main subjects just said.  All of the alleged experts bring their own biases to the commentary.  They’re spouting off, telling their audiences what they think we should think about what just happened, whether coming from a liberal or conservative jumping-off point.

Sorry.  Not interested.

When you watch a speech or a debate on C-SPAN, that’s all you get.  No intros, no analysis, just the unvarnished event itself.  It’s left to you to figure it out, to decide whether the subjects made sense, if you can believe what they said, and how it may affect your vote, your pocketbook, your community, your family.

There’s nothing wrong with seeking out divergent opinions, of course.  Working to understand competing points of view can help refine and sharpen your own.  But, in my book, the decision to look for varying opinions remains mine to make.  I don’t want it forced down my throat or thrown at me without my knowledge or permission.

Just an opinion.

Copyright 2014 Tim Hayes Consulting and Transverse Park Productions LLC