This chapter explores the debate concerning medium specificity—the relationship between the nature of the medium and the value of the work. I begin with the question of whether films should be cinematic. The interlocutors are Carroll, Gaut, Smith, and Smuts. Then I look at the sophisticated evaluative framework offered by V. F. Perkins. Its problems are much like those we saw with attempts to defend the virtue of cinematicity. The discussion of Perkins sets the stage for a different kind of evaluative framework, Carroll's "pluralistic category approach"—the notion that works should be assessed as instances of genres, or categories. This appears to be a rough statement of Roger Ebert's critical methodology. The chapter presents the approach and raises a few problems. Categories appear as mere shorthand for artistic goals. If so, then we are likely better off focusing on specific goals rather than general categories. Second, it is unclear that focusing on goals gets us any closer to objectivity. And third, some goals do seem better than others, so we seem to need an additional evaluative standard.
YouTube Channel - Playlist for Ch 4 [here]