Thursday, July 19, 2012

Oh, Grow Up!

I am here to stand up for my fellow film critics.  As of today, I have yet to see The Dark Knight Rises, so I am in no position to state whether or not it is a good or bad film.  When I see it, I will give my own take on the film.  One thing people can count on me on is that I calls it as I sees it.  I don't care about bucking the trend or following it.  I have no interest in mirroring breathless adulation if I don't find anything to adore about a film.  If I gush over something, it comes from the heart, the mind, and even the soul of me.  If I love The Dark Knight Rises, I'll say so.  If I hate it, I'll say so.  I don't mince words.

Reviews for The Dark Knight Rises are coming in and for the most part they are quite positive, with a few exceptions. 

It is the exceptions that bring me here tonight.  Rotten Tomatoes for the first time ever has blocked comments on reviews of a film (The Dark Knight Rises) because among other things, the critics who dared to give it a "rotten" rating, who didn't declare it the Citizen Kane of all cinema or call TDKR singularly the greatest experience possible for mortal man, akin to being in the presence of Christ Jesus, got bashed.

Getting criticized for critizing a movie is nothing new.  I have been attacked for my Personal Reflections on The Hunger Games, and have had my head metaphorically chewed out because I think the Doctor Who character River Song is the worst thing ever created for that show (with the possible exception of Love & Monsters).  I have a right to speak my mind, and because you don't agree with it, it doesn't make you a bad person.  However, it doesn't make me a bad person if I don't see things your way (whether it's on film or on my refusal, for example, to support the Occupy Movement).

Granted, if one wants to debate a film or series or character with me I expect more of a reply than "you're wrong," or "you suck" because we don't see eye to eye.  One would hope the dissenting voice would make their case by saying, "The performances were subtle, the story held together well, the costumes were nice", what have you.  However, too often people mistake their passion about something for intelligent discourse over something.

I imagine having people tell me (or my fellow critics), "you suck" or a variation thereof is par for the course when it comes to film reviewing (note: I think of myself as a film reviewer, not film critic, because I don't go into things to dislike them and I would say all my fellow critics feel likewise).

Now, however, things have gone too far.  People now are leaving death threats, DEATH THREATS, mind you, simply because one didn't like a movie. 

This is Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune.  He looks like a nice, affable person, and to his credit he did his best to save At The Movies when it was all but unsalvageable.  He didn't think too highly of The Dark Knight Rises.  Are we, rational people that we claim to be, really suppose to think he deserves to have a fatwa against him because the film didn't please him?

There have been many times when I haven't agreed with him, or Richard Roeper (whom I like to think of as my nemesis, although it's probably one-sided), or the Dean of Film Reviewers Roger Ebert.  I've disagreed sharply with my fellow Online Film Critics Society members on films (I detested The Tree of Life), but in the end, we each have a particular basis for praising or condeming a film.  Fanboys, however, have but one: you must agree with me, or ELSE!!

I suspect that for many fanboys, any criticism of The Dark Knight Rises or The Dark Knight or Avatar or any other film is a criticism of THEM.  To them, these films and others (I'll looking at you, Transformers) is tantamount to a religious experience, something holy, sacred.  Any criticism, any deviation from the mind-lockstep these fanboys (and yes, girls) have, therefore, is blasphemy, sacreligious, and in their delusional minds deserving of death.

One does not deserve death for disliking a film.  One does not deserve to be verbally attacked with vitriol because one didn't like a film.  Seriously, get a hold of yourself.

I can understand how people get that way: when I'm told by someone that they think Casablanca is the most boring film ever made and that Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is a better film, or that they think Channing Tatum and J-Lo are the Tracy & Hepburn of our generation, my blood starts boiling.  HOWEVER (and this is the important part), I do two things:

1.) Not take it personally.  Sometimes they say this knowing it will get my goat, but I've learned to accept the fact that they have their viewpoint (ill-informed, blank, and ignorant as it may be).

2.) Accept the fact that they are immature in their thinking, that they've been dumbed-down by a world that doesn't trust audiences to ask for intelligence in their films (hence how Jane Eyre or Senna could have been ignored while Green Lantern and The Hangover Part II could have people come out thinking they'd seen a good movie).    

If you noted a hint of sarcasm and snobbery in the preceeding, good.  All that is said with tongue slightly in cheek.  If people want to think all Transformers films are better than Casablanca, they are free to do so.  I'm not going to kill them or wish a bomb go off under their car because they disagree with me. 

In short, we reviewers and critics give our views based less on our emotions but on how we judge such things as performances, story, directing (though having emotion in reviewing is I think a good thing).  As such, we just give our views.  I like to think of my reviews as a public service, whether or not you should spend your hard-earned cash on a film (A), wait a few weeks or for the second-run theater (B), rent (C+), bad but it won't kill you (C-), let someone else get (D) or destroy every copy you find (F).

One must judge a film by what it's trying to do.  While I think Precious and The Hangover are brilliant, they are brilliant in their own way.  In the end, I don't expect people to say I must die because of what I write, and neither should my fellow critics, who saw something, called it as they saw it, and it should be left at that.

My last words are to you: all the fanboys and fangirls who find people don't agree with them on a movie. Really...

get a life
and stop threatening other people's lives. 

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