Your Taste Has Been Nominated

How differently do Douban1 and IMDB users rate movies that have been nominated for an Oscar for best picture?

The chart below shows the rating differences for each of these movies from 2012 to 2017, in reverse order.

Douban users rated movies on the right side of the chart higher than IMDB users while rated movies on the left side lower.

Overall Douban users rated these movies higher than IMDB users. However, they rated 3 out of the 9 nominated movies in 2014 lower than IMDB users and this year the number is even higher — 5 out of 9.

It’s interesting that Douban users rated both movies directed by David O. Russell less. On the other hand, they liked Life of Pi by Ang Lee much more than IMDB users. They rated it at 9.0, 1.1 higher than its rating on IMDB. Take notes, Hollywood. While you are at it, please never get involved in making a movie as terrible as The Great Wall, okay?2

If we assume a difference less or equal to 0.23 in either direction doesn’t represent an explict preference, there are 8 movies Douban users liked less. 4 of them are about black Americans.

Does that reflect a problem? It’s hard to say. The sample of movies here is too small.4 And as you can see Douban users defintely liked The Help and Hidden Figures more than IMDB users. Maybe it’s the female factor. Douban doesn’t have concrete breakdowns like IMDB does so there is no way to know whether female Douban users rated them much higher. My guess is both male and female Douban users rated them higher.

The oversensitiveness towards political correctness from Chinese netizens and even my friends has been bugging me recently. For example, they label Moonlight as political correct. The abuse of this word now makes me question the ability of anyone who uses it to think critically — after all, the word political correctness is merely an abstraction of something more concrete, if you can’t explain your thoughts without using it, you just don’t understand what you are talking about. This weird sentiment towards political correctness among Chinese has a lot to do with the Culture Revolution, a dark period during which people were labeled and prosecuted. In fact, many Chinese directly compare the situation of “too much political correctness” in America with the Culture Revolution, which I find ridiculous. But there were times I wonder.

I’m not here to prove that Chinese people are more racist, an assertion I came across a few times before5. And it’s not because that I am Chinese and refuse to acknowledge it. I think the argument behind it is fundamentally flawed. From my limited experience, people who claim so are eager to equate ignorance with bigotry without realizing they are actualy doing harm.

I didn’t mean to make a blog post about politics but seeing Chinese moviegoers labeling Moonlight as political correct was partly why I made this chart. The main reason, though, was simply the curiosity about that question in the first paragraph.

We are living in a time where one is expected to have a strong opinion extremely fast when extremely little is known. Refusing to do so is often attacked by both sides. It’s worrying.

The other day a friend told me about the book the truly disadvantaged by William Julius Wilson and one sentence in a book review of this book on Amazon brought me great comfort. It says,

A sure indication that you have arrived at an independent, intellectual, and honest position is the degree to which both sides of the ideological fence find fault with your work.

Let’s stop right here and look at a new chart. It shows how many times these movies were rated by Douban users.

Ang Lee’s Life of Pi was rated the most number of times by Douban Users. I’m surprised Birdman has that many ratings.

Your taste might’ve been nominated, but did it win? Did it?6

  1. 1.For people who don’t know, Douban is a popular Chinese movie and book review site.
  2. 2.It has a rating of 5.0 on Douban, in case you are curious.
  3. 3.Why 0.2? Well…
  4. 4.There are other problems too. For example, Douban uses average value of all ratings while IMDB uses a weighted average. Douban uses a five-star rating system and then scales it to a 10-point rating system while IMDB uses 10-point rating system. And not many people rated some of the movies on Douban…
  5. 5.Oh my dear Chinese friend, you have never heard of that before? Well, now you know: we are bad drivers and more racist.
  6. 6.laughing at your face emoji.