Saturday, August 17, 2013

It's Good

     The definition of good seems to be changing. Perhaps I should rephrase and specify. It seems to me that what people consider good in entertainment has changed or has been changing for a long time. I don't mean that people think that bad things are good, that wrong things are right, not in this case. Rather, I'm focusing on the way that people use the word good to define the things they experience in entertainment. For example, I remember one time when I was sitting in a van with a group of people my age, and they were sharing their music with each other. I kept hearing the repeated phrase, "That's a good song; that's a good song; that's a good song,". I felt that if I could hear what they were hearing, I would be inclined to disagree. It bothered me because it seemed that there shouldn't be disagreement on what is good and what isn't. Good things are good, and bad things are bad. That's when I really began to wonder what good in this sense means.

     One of the many definitions of the word "good" is, "of high quality, or excellent." How do we determine what is excellent or of high quality? The only thing we can do is to measure it according to some standard, and with most things it's a universal standard. What's good for the goose is usually good for the gander. Measurements are a fitting example of this. The scientific community has agreed on a standard for their measurements, the metric system, so that they know that everywhere, regardless of location or individual, the measurements are going to be the same. However, this doesn't seem to be the case for things like entertainment. There's no set universal standard for what is a good book, movie, or song. You may have experienced a scenario like this example: You and a friend or coworker are driving in your car with the radio on. Then comes a little warning note, and the song you despise with a burning passion begins. You gag and change the channel. But meanwhile, your friend in the seat next to you has already begun belting out the chorus. Then you get into a heated argument over whether or not that's a good song. He says yes; you emphatically say no. Obviously, there is no universal standard for what is good in entertainment. How can this be? How then do we determine what is good?

     Well, it's pretty simple. It's actually quite obvious, but I've avoided using words that will give it away. There are standards that people use in determining what's good. But those standards are personal, not universal. We call them tastes. People have tastes based on what they like and don't like, what they think is right and wrong, and what they've done in the past. They use these to determine what they consider to be good. So when people say, "That's a good song; that's a good movie, for heavens' sake, that's not a good book," what they really mean to say is, "I hold that to be a good song; I believe that's a good movie; good gracious, I don't think that's a good book at all." If the word gets overused enough, it even just means, "I like that...fill in the blank."

     So the answer to my question is this: Looking at it from a certain point of view, those people in the van were right when they said, "That was a good song," and from another point of view they were wrong. The points of view were theirs and mine, respectively. It all depends on what the person experiencing the media holds to be good. So the definition of good has not been changed, but rather, it has remained the same but people have used it to define more forcefully their likes and dislikes. Good still means good, but people's standards for what they hold to be good are still very different.

1 comment:

  1. Or perhaps, the definition of "Good" is being subtly altered as time goes by, much like the word "Awesome". I think that people should not say, that is a good song, I think they should say, "I like that song." Because that is what they are really trying to say.