Technically, there is no right answer for this. Some people just like to watch media for fun and turn their brain off, while others like to consume their media from an analytical and critical perspective.
No way is right or wrong because one’s relationship with the media is not one size fits all. It is personal! Some people are either-or but I believe most of us are in between.
Watching for fun and critically aren’t mutually exclusive.
Like I said, most of us are in between, because naturally you want to have fun with the media you are watching, but also want to engage with it through analysis. In fact for some, analyzing the media is the fun part!
When Issues Arise
However, issues arise when people don’t respect each other for how we choose to consume.
Too often online, I have seen people who watch media for fun hate on those who analyze it. They say “you are sucking the joy out of _____” or “it’s not that deep”.
On the other hand, people who analyze media can become critical to those who watch for fun. They say that by watching for fun “it’s a waste of time” or “useless” since you aren’t necessarily engaging with a project.
Hating on either side isn’t productive and both perspectives have flaws. You cannot dictate how one chooses to consume media; you should simply respect it. You can advocate for one side over the other but don’t ever attack individuals for it.
In my personal journey, I was someone who started off watching media purely for fun as a kid in high school. However, Eternals came around and it was the first movie I truly fell in love with and analyzed down to the tea.
Discussing Eternals showed me how beneficial it is to analyze media. Not only do you connect with the project more but you can refine your critical thinking and decision making skills, connect with others and form a community, and learn life lessons from the story. Honestly, it made me a more complete person.
But with that, I’m also very passionate and open to constructive ideas and thoughts that might not be in line with mine.
On the flip side, some people’s media analysis is often bigoted and incorrect. When it is, that person usually won’t recognize their mistake because they are watching the media critically only from their own experiences. When watching media critically, it is important to keep in mind that sometimes some stories aren’t for you to analyze, and if you are being told you are making a mistake in your analysis, to always listen and try to understand.
I have realized that when you watch “just for fun,” you might not be engaging with the media, so always try to at least understand someone that may take it more seriously. If not, you might make points in discussions that are absolutely incorrect and if you don’t know the story behind the project, you might help to spread falsities. This specifically holds true for stories centered around real life people and events.
So, always keep an open mind no matter how you consume media and try to enter into discussions with empathy.
It really is tough to know the right way to consume media but one thing that is right, is to be open and respectful of others … always!
Currently, I try to consume most of my media from a critical and analytical perspective. However, there are still some things I love to watch for fun without much thought such as the Great British Bake Off, some romcoms and reality tv such as Fabulous Lives of Bollywood Wives. There is no disadvantage to doing both or just consuming media in either way.
I advocate doing what you want as long as you remain respectful of others!
If you watch for fun, watch for fun! If you watch critically, do that (as long as your analysis isn’t bigoted, hateful or nonsensical)! Your personal journey with the media you consume is up to you and no one else!