How to debate a film with your friends

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Maybe you’re really into movies, and you friends aren’t. Or perhaps you all are — but you’ve got one friend who is especially hard headed and refuses to change their opinion? Look no further than this short guide on how to debate your favourite films with your friends. The goal here is to have a debate that is healthy and open to input from both sides, but also helps you to get your voice and understandings across. To follow through with this examination we will look at three major points: what you should have going into a debate, how to convince someone of something, and etiquette for ending a debate.

Now the first thing you might think of if I were to ask you what you need for a debate is knowledge of the medium. While that is true, it isn’t the first thing. The first thing you’re going to need if you plan on debating a film with your friends is acceptance. Acceptance of the fact that casual debates will almost, without fail, cause others to entrench themselves back into their original views that much more than when they started. If you accept this it will do two things for your debate. Firstly, it will allow you to debate in a more casual and relaxed manner — this is always preferred as it will make the second party much more likely to interact intellectually with the debate. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, it will ensure that you don’t get swept into the argument. I find often times with debates, the debate begins to spiral once someone makes a statement another person vehemently disagrees with. I’ve seen it happen a myriad of times, a small insult comes out first, followed by a series of escalating insults or digs before the two will have to swear off debating.

This may sound completely foreign to what your debates are like, but something as simple as: “You liked Suicide Squad? I can’t trust your judgment then.”

This is something that can happen fairly easily, a large accepted canon of what movies are bad and which are good enters your discussion. Cinematically I believe Suicide Squad is a failure, but evidently, that is not the sole reason for liking a film to many people. It is important to remember that if you’re debating a film, use your emotions to your advantage, but don’t insult someone over theirs.

To convince someone, to truly have them believe your point, you will most likely need to prove the false. This is why most debates further entrench both members. Because most of the time you are trying to prove the subjective and often people will bring that up, that anything you’re mentioning is, like, just your opinion, man.

However, it is important to note that you absolutely can convince someone a movie they didn’t like is good, or vice versa. The way to go about this is to have a clear and concise argument based around theirs. I will often hear someone doesn’t enjoy a film I liked/loved, and ask to hear their full discussion about why they didn’t like it. Often times I am either rewarded with just about nothing other than: “the jokes fell flat, some weird tone decisions, something didn’t click.” These are all perfectly fine opinions, but also impossible to debate. If I’m still in the mood for a debate, I’ll start listing off reasons I enjoyed the film — but from this point it’s on the other person to engage.

Every once in a while, however, you’ll get an actual jumping off point for a debate. This can be just about anything from the soundtrack wasn’t meaningfully incorporated, to the lack of character growth.

Once you’ve had your debate you have to know how to bring it to a close, in a non-confrontational way. Whether you changed their mind or not, you can ask a few questions as it begins to close like: “Are you starting to see where I’m coming from?” These are simply if you feel the need to be assured of where the other is on the original question. But the most important step to ending any debate is assuring one another that you’re interested in each other’s views and that is why the debate is happening, many times I’ve been confronted or seen others be confronted in a way that is accusing the debater of just wanting to be right. But most of the time it’s about seeing different sides of a property they already love.

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