22 août 2012

Subjective Ice Cream Canon (ironic)

Top10 Favourite Ice Cream Flavours :
  1. Vanilla (29%)
  2. Chocolate  (8.9%)
  3. Strawberry  (5.3%)
  4. Neapolitan  (4.2%)
  5. Chocolate chip  (3.9%)
  6. French vanilla  (3.8%)
  7. Cookies and cream  (3.6%)
  8. Vanilla fudge ripple  (2.6%)
  9. Praline pecan  (1.7%)
  10. Cherry  (1.6%)
As voted subjectively by the association of movie reviewers against objective canons who can't help but participate in every canon they can find anyway. 

Since this is a popular and democratic consensus based on subjectivity, the result shows the most widespread taste among the majority of people polled. It tells us about the people who voted and nothing about the quality of the ice cream itself. When the poll question is SUBJECTIVE, when the poll voters respond SUBJECTIVELY, the addition of the votes could only tell something about the relative demographic size of groups who prefer such or such flavour. 
There are more people who like vanilla flavoured ice cream over cherry flavoured ice cream. But we are not informed in any way about the quality of the product itself, about the proportion of quality vanilla ice creams compared to the proportion of bad vanilla ice creams. Or quality cherry flavoured ice cream for that matter.
How many voters made their choice based on a childhood memory (influential to their life, but from a random ice cream sample that was most likely NOT the best ever made)? How many base their idea of a best flavour on whatever they consume at the supermarket (probably artificial, chemical flavour)? How many are actual ice cream amateurs who weed out the industrially made ones from the superior home-made ones? How many have tried the most prestigious ice creams made by great restaurants?
People pick an ice cream on a menu based on its nominal flavour, as a name tag, as a recognised label, because they are conditioned by their cemented taste to respond to a flavour name rather than the actual taste of the product. People never ask whether the coffee ice cream is better made than the vanilla ice cream... they just know they want anything with vanilla.

Is there only 10 ice cream flavours in the world that are enjoyable by anyone, or at the very least edible? Definitely not. Because such list is not the end all argument of what to eat. It's merely an excerpt from the full poll, the majority opinion... it does not reflect the infinite minority opinions (the long tail), the acquired taste that could never reach a consensus, the little known flavours... all of which may or may not be much superior to the usual suspects, in quality, in ingredients, in texture, in flavour depth, in nuances... but will be ignored because they are not acknowledged by the majority of voters (because they are only expert of their own short-sighted navel! experts in flavour names, not in product quality control).

Here it's normal to see a consensus of only 29% for the first spot, because voters probably only nominated one flavour each (the more flavours getting votes, the less maximum votes the #1 can get), one at the exclusion of all others.
If 70% of voters are lactose-intolerant, will they vote for their favourite fruit instead? Thus screw the results?

People's taste is influenced/conditioned by availability too. Maybe vanilla is what the least people strongly dislike, therefore more ice cream makers put it out to secure safe sales. Thus its (omni-)presence alone will make more converts and continue its dominance. It's harder to escape the mainstream taste once it started the snowball effect of supply-demand mutual influence. The simple presence of a dominant choice, in terms of offer availability and exposure, will inevitably cast a darker shadow all around on the lesser known, lesser exposed, lesser sought after, lesser tried, lesser liked flavours. And people who stick to their comfort zone, their tried-and-true favourites (lifetime establishment once and for all), who are less tempted to risk to be disappointed by a never-tried-before flavour, aren't the ones who will help make the mainstream status quo evolve when necessary.
There are other reasons why we may not have an expert view on ice cream excellence... because sometimes the best ice creams are very expensive, and we cannot eat it every day. Maybe we tasted one once, and base our perception of greatness based on an isolated sample, which may or may not be the best of the best, just one among the bests, and possibly a low tier one.

We only know which ice cream is the GREATEST, when expert ice cream makers, or reknown pastry chef, or food critics, or expert gourmet get together and vote for the best made ice cream according to the objective criteria of its recipe, or the quality of its ingredient, of the perfect execution. Chefs don't just pick their favourite flavour... nobody cares about a chef's favourite ice cream flavour, we care about their expertise on the product, any ice cream, any flavour. And if it's not the ice cream with your favourite flavour that wins, it doesn't matter, because it was not the purpose.

That is why subjectivity is only meaningful to individuals, not to groups, not to consensus, not to canons.


A subjective vote should only be displayed as an individual opinion, which reflects the personal taste of a particular person. (favourite listing)
The participation to a collective project, such as a canon consensus, should follow objective criteria in order to produce a convergent result, the purpose of which every voter knows and agrees with. (all-time best of)

What's the point to compare your subjective taste to the mainstream consensus? It's only a social statistic that a profit-oriented ice cream maker would like to know (in order to predict the relative surplus/shortage of each flavour, and stock accordingly, and bait the widest range of clients by proposing the most liked flavours in priority over a diversity offer)!
Do you feel pride if the majority validates your taste? Do you feel less unique if you realise your individual taste falls exactly into the national average? Will you change your favourite for the sake of individuality, to show your personality more, to prove you're not a sheep? Will you feel comforted that you're not a weirdo who likes something nobody else likes? Would you be pissed off at the canon if they didn't list your favourite flavour? Would you be pissed at yourself if your favourite flavour is on it?
Why do you need your personal subjectivity to be recognised by an objective canon that is there to serve film culture in general (not you specifically and solely)?

So, do you think cinema is like ice cream? Should moviegoers just define greatness from whatever they consume daily (regardless for eventual greater criteria they aren't aware of due to low diversity choice)? Should everyone just pick their favourite flavour in cinema (regardless for the actual quality of the product)? Should whatever we crave supersede what is honorable? Should what we need now be more important than what mankind will remember in the long term? Should we let anyone vote, and skew the results, even though they didn't taste all available flavours in the history of cinema?

This is bullshit! Bullshit-flavoured ice cream...

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