• Editorial: Subjectivity Versus Objectivity (What is True Vs What I'd Like to be True)

    We’ve all heard it before. “That’s subjective”. Those two words are usually used to end or win a disagreement, and I’m increasingly seeing “subjectivity” and “objectivity” either being misused or labeled as the incorrect and correct way to engage within an argument. As if there’s only one way to debate or speak.

    Such a topic is inevitable, but I feel this would be a good moment to lay all of my cards on the table. I have seen discussions squashed too many times by the defense of a disagreement being someone’s opinion, and I’d like to talk about why that is the (often incorrect) go-to reaction. Let's talk about objectivity and subjectivity after the break.

    This topic is dense, considering fandom subjectivity has been around since the beginning of MLP. It's deeply ingrained within everything that happens in the fandom. From something small such as a fandom icon leaving, to the big discussions that fragment the community into stances and groups based on how they feel. Button Mash's cease and desist comes to mind, as well as any episode being released that's considered to be subpar (or even excellent) by the fandom.

    Subjectivity, to put it simply is what someone considers to be true when they take into account what everyone feels about the subject. Objectivity still deals with truth, but it isn't affected by public influence. A good example would be gravity, or the fact that DHX Media makes the MLP episodes. There's no debate with objectivity, or at least there shouldn't be.

    Subjectivity is the word that's thrown around on nearly any piece of content that has an opinion, or even a bare opinion itself. Inherently, this is true, considering any stance on a subject is subjective in nature. Subjectivity is apparent to anything that someone ¨feels”. Something as simple as a favorite or ¨best¨ episode is subjective. There are no truths to subjectivity, at least objective truths.

    The interesting thing about subjectivity is that with enough agreement, the idea is as objective as it could be, without actually being objective. Prime examples are alicorn OCs (usually) being a bad idea, or ¨show, don’t tell¨ within characterization. But subjectivity and its misappropriation is a problem that I’m seeing more and more with content creators and fans. The word is being used as a cudgel to quell opinions, as well as a shield to spew unwarranted bile. In the words of the Big Lebowski, I hear ¨that’s your opinion, man¨ a lot, especially after someone says what they think the show should have done, or ¨where the show went wrong¨.

    I'll link this every now and then until it stops becoming relevant.

    Now, there’s nothing wrong with constructive criticism, obviously. It would be hypocritical of me to say otherwise. But subjectivity breeds fragmentation when one’s opinions are treated as anything more than a grain of salt. I saw a comment on last week’s editorial on fandom animations that was made by a content creator. They said that because of the high standard that people hold fandom animations, the amount of flak that they got for releasing their animation was astronomical, because it wasn't perfect. I then thought about my own editorials, and whether or not my constructive criticisms made someone want to stop doing their craft.

    If it has, that’s a problem.

    As a content creator that relies on other content to continue, my editorials live with an ambivalence. How much subjectivity do I inject into these columns? I’m sure it’s the type of question that the analysis and reviewing sections of the fandom ask themselves. You can only rely on parroting the objective truths of narrative storytelling, characterization, and so on for a limited amount of time before you start to sound like a broken record. While writing has rules that can be broken if you are good at the craft, the objectivity of structure and pacing stands ironclad against the subjectivity of ¨I do or don’t like this¨. But again, that’s my opinion.

    Warning: The language within this video is NSFW, but it is an excellent build off of my main point.

    The other problem with objectivity is that it’s boring. Usually. You can use objectivity as a framework for what you think is wrong with a piece of media, such as structure or pacing, but that eventually trails into subjectivity. There are some people that like “Games Ponies Play”, or any other generic disappointing episode that has been beaten to death by analysis and reviewing. The subjectivity behind what a “good” episode contains is a loaded question, since we all came to this fandom for different parts of the show to begin with. Whether it be lore-building, the characters, the writing, or a number of other reasons. It's one of the reasons why I tune out once I hear “what the writers should do is…” or anything that seems “overly subjective”.

    Within here lies the problem. Being “overly subjective” is usually regarded as a bad thing, but I see it more as an honest mistake than anything else. With continuous content, you become familiar with what others would say about your content, and it becomes a game of second-guessing over whether what you say will have to be prefaced with numerous “this is my opinion” slogans or “I’m aware that X also did this, that’s not the point”. It’s why many times, reviewers and analysts simply don’t address a question that may be the elephant in the room, because sometimes it simply isn’t.

    Subjectivity can be palatable. It's the main reason why analysis and reviewing are two of the most popular sub-fandoms. This is because these people have learned how to find their ¨angle¨, and consistency breeds success. There’s no surprise why everyone has their favorite analyst/reviewer, because their angle is inherently compelling if consistent. It’s also no surprise why there’s frequent collaborations among analysts, because two perspectives (or more) is better than one. With an increasing amount of perspectives, you’re reaching the ¨objective subjectivity¨ threshold, or not. There’s dozens of different theories for the beginning of the universe, and they’re all interesting since they’re all subjective until proven otherwise.

    With objective-based articles, there isn’t this type of interaction. Since facts aren’t up for debate (usually), there’s no discussion. As a result, the article could seem robotic or insubstantial. My goal with editorials is to spark a discussion, and I’m incapable of doing that when such discussion topics such as "Double Rainboom’s writing is subpar" is waved away as "subjective" and I’m told that I should be speaking with objectivity.

    The real problem with subjectivity is when someone isn’t self-aware of their opinions. A caustic opinion can turn someone off of a discussion, or worse. But a humble opinion is easier to swallow or mull over. It’s one of the many reasons why the satirical news shows ("The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report") were so popular. They mixed their news with comedy, and it made the public swallow some very troubling pills amongst the laughs. I can draw this to Silver Quill's fame, since his approaches to reviewing are similar. His reviews are humble and funny, and I don't feel like his opinions are beat into my head.

    As a content creator, I am obligated to give you all something to discuss among the news. I am not shielded from constructive criticisms if I burn a bridge to reach my point, or approach a subject without tact. The subjectivity of my editorials is apparent, but I must be responsible with it. As fans or even fellow content creators, it is your job to tell me if I did my job.

    What do you guys think? Is subjectivity inevitable when it comes to discussions and arguments? Can there be an objective discussion that's also entertaining and correct? Let me know in the comments. For anyone who’s interested, I recently got a Twitter and started posting on it, both for EQD and any future projects that I may have. I also have other things that I am working on, and I will divulge them soon on both Twitter and other channels soon. Thank you for reading this editorial and my Lauren Faust panel coverage, and I'll see you next week.

    Edit: Seth you monster you didn't tell me it was Talk Like Zecora Day. I feel so out of place... eh?