The Cannarf Rating System

The problem I have always had with objective ratings and reviews is that they aren’t objective at all. The expectations you bring to a movie or a book always color how you receive it. So instead of trying to take the subjectivity out of my reviews, I decided to go the other way and make them completely subjective and based on my expectations.

A few years ago I created something called a “Cannarf”. What’s a cannarf? Well, a cannarf is a unit of measure used to rate books, movies, TV shows, and basically anything under God’s blue sky.

I did this because the one question I found myself asking friends after they’d read a book or seen a movie was, “Was it better or worse than you expected?” To me, their answer to this question gave me more data than any other question I could ask. I don’t care how the movie stacks up against all other movies. I don’t care if the book was a classic or not. Just tell me this: what were your expectations going in, and was it better or worse than you expected?

The Cannarf Rating System goes from -10 to +10. If a book or movie is exactly what you expected it to be, it gets 0 cannarfs. If it does not live up to your expectations, you give it negative cannarfs. (-1 cannarfs means it just barely fell short, -10 cannarfs means the gap between your expectations and how crappy it was are as big as the cosmos.) If it is better than expected it can be scored from +1 cannarfs all the way up to +10 cannarfs.

The cannarf scale is totally subjective. That’s why I love it. In fact, a better movie might get a lower cannarf rating just because the expectations you had for it were so high. For  example, here’s pretend reviews for 2 Shia LeBouf movies I saw in the past year:

+ Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull: This movie was basically exactly what I expected it to be. Dumb and fun. I enjoyed it, but the bit at the end with the aliens was a bit too dumb for me. -1 cannarfs.

+ Eagle Eye: I had pretty high hopes that this movie would keep me on the edge of my seat and deliver a nice plot twist at the end. In the end, the only thing it delivered was a tired idea that I’ve seen too many times before. -3 cannarfs.

Did I like Indiana Jones a lot better than Eagle Eye? Not really, but I penalized Eagle Eye because i had higher hopes. That’s how it works.

The other thing I like about the Cannarf Rating System is that the cannarf ratings build on themselves. If 3 of your friends read a book and give it positive cannarfs, then it might push your expectations of the book so high, that the book doesn’t meet them (even though you liked it). As a result, you have to give it negative cannarfs.

Anyway, that was a long explanation for a fairly simple concept: I rate things based on what my expectations were, and I quantify them on a scale that I call ‘cannarfs’ because I like to make up words.

Why am I telling you all this? Because I am going to start reviewing movies and books and such on my blog, and I’ll be using the cannarf system to rate them. (And now I have a post I can refer new readers to for an explanation.)

First book review coming later today…

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