Here’s a question: when we did we stop being fans of movies and become defenders of them? Follow up: when did it become a punishable offense not to enjoy things the same way others do? Sub question: since when is not liking a film as much as someone else the same as hating it?
I’m assuming that since movies have existed, people have enjoyed talking about them. Shortly after the awe and wonder faded, they probably also enjoyed (or at least engaged in) debating over their particular merits. You know, once there started being more than one released every few months.
Here’s a troubling trend I’m noticing: movie critics now consider themselves defenders of films, rather than critics or writers. With the rapid spread of information (and random words) through things like Facebook, Twitter, and blogs, it has become increasingly difficult to even properly identify someone as a critic. What makes a critic? If you publicly reveal your opinion to the masses on the internet, is it not a topic for conversation? Is it not then welcomed for people to engage in debate? Doesn’t that make you a critic?
If you didn’t want people to comment on your comment, shouldn’t you have kept it to yourself?
There are two very recent movies that come to mind when thinking about the defensive nature people have taken on about movies. It is no longer “to each their own,” apparently, but now “fuck you if you don’t like what I do.”
(From this point on I make no promises not to directly or indirectly spoil minor or major points about The Raid or Cabin in the Woods. I won’t blow open any endings or anything, but may provide more information than you wish to know)
First up, The Raid. The Raid managed to hold on to a 100% fresh rating on RottenTomatoes.com for quite a few days, which is rare. It now holds a very respectable 85% and with good reason – the movie is entertaining and action packed. I dug the film, but it didn’t blow my mind. I certainly could see how some people wouldn’t like it. After all, everyone is different and to each their own.
Or fuck you, maybe, if you didn’t like it. There was basically a critic-watch going on, with people waiting to see who was going to be the first to hate it. And once someone issued a negative review against it, the fists and barbs came out. Innocent threats of violence. Derogatory comments. A defensive shield of words thrown around the action flick. I don’t think anyone liked The Raid enough to actually punch a dissenting critic, but the fact that people were up in arms and waiting to rally against and attack someone else for their opinion is troubling.
After all, I live in America (I know some readers do not), where speech is free, but the internet is generally regarded as a place where anyone can speak their mind without getting executed. Rather than the hangman’s noose, now dissenters are faced with court of very public appeals, where not liking a movie means you’re a moron. Maybe I’ve discovered why everyone is always so positive about movies now? Why everything is the greatest and not just average? Wouldn’t want someone on Twitter calling you an idiot.
Maybe someone wanted a movie with more of a plot; even the most ardent of Raid fans must admit that it is rather light in that department. Further, maybe some people just don’t care for non-stop martial arts. I for one don’t care a god damn lick about professional wrestling or basketball, but I don’t care that other people watch it, nor do I call them idiots or threaten to beat them up over it.
More recently, that is to say, over the last several days, The Cabin in the Woods has dominated the topics of conversation. Firstly, over spoiler concerns. The movie is not what you expect and not really what is advertised. You get the idea that things are very different almost immediately, but still, no one wanted to spoil it and no one wanted to be spoiled. Luckily I made it into the film with a virginal mind, for the first time in my life. Well, for the first time since puberty.
I had heard that this was the horror film to end all horror films. It was going to be my new favorite! I was going to watch it over and over again! Was it everything I had been lead to believe?
Nah. It was good, don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed it. I’ll watch it again. I had a lot of fun with it. But it didn’t blow my mind apart. The film is overtly meta and referential of the horror genre and while it’s clever in conception, in my mind it’s like hitting the nail on the head that was on your nose in terms of being clever. This is the most open and blatant way of shining a spotlight on something and saying “look at it.” That is not a bad thing. It is just an obvious thing. I think more subtlety is often a stronger and cleverer way of operating. That said, the movie is still a lot of fun, especially in the third act, which it rushes to get to.
I’m meandering- the point is that overwhelmingly people loved The Cabin in the Woods. It’s a darling among most critics, especially the younger and more online oriented ones. But, like all things, there are dissenters. There are people who did not like the movie.
To me, I accept that. I’m more than willing to debate the merits of a film. Earlier in the weekend, Scott Weinberg (Writer/Editor with various outlets, including Twitch, FearNET, and Movies.com) mentioned how he didn’t like Terminator 2: Judgement Day all that much and felt the original was superior. I disagree. I said so. The story ended. He didn’t call me a jerk. I didn’t call him an idiot. We are two different people with two different views on the same movie.
So why then, do we sometimes get so defensive about films? It seems that people are very defensive about The Raid and even more so about The Cabin in the Woods. People who hate the movie are being ridiculed. They’re being called idiots, they’re being called stupid, they’re being told they don’t get it, that they’re incapable of understanding it. Regular audience members and critics alike are being told they’re wrong and they’re dumb for not liking a movie.
Doesn’t personal opinion depend on the person? You can’t actually be wrong about something subjective. Your own personal opinion can’t be wrong. Sure, you can be wrong about plot points or specifics if maybe you missed something or you really, honestly, actually didn’t get it. You can be wrong about what you thought happened (sometimes), but you can’t be wrong about how it made you feel.
What does it matter if someone doesn’t enjoy a film? Moreover, what does it matter if someone doesn’t enjoy a film that everyone else is enjoying? If you’re involved with a film or you’re in the minority of people who liked it, then defending it might make sense. But if a film like The Cabin in the Woods is 92% fresh (critics) and 81% liked (audience), why should the 81% gang up on the 19%? I’m pretty sure that’s called bullying. Or intellectual genocide.
Here’s the deal: it is okay to hate movies. It is your right to hate them. You are an individual and your thoughts, experiences, reactions, and emotions should be your own and you should not be attacked for having them. At least when it comes to movies. If you’re some real world asshole who hates puppies and discriminates against people based on race or anything, then sure, you’re an asshole and you’re wrong. But you’re not wrong for hating The Cabin in the Woods and you’re not wrong for feeling that The Raid was repetitive and slow at times.
Movies are experienced by everyone differently. We all have different tastes. I would think that horror and action fans are especially aware of this. I don’t recommend Martyrs or Inside or Freddy vs Jason or Jason X to a lot of people, despite the fact that I love watching them. There are certain movies that appeal to us that don’t have a wide market appeal. The Cabin in the Woods is very inside baseball to horror. I don’t think non-horror fans can really appreciate all that’s going on, so when a random person walks in, they might not like it as much because they don’t have the same knowledge or experience to view it against. That is entirely different, to me, than someone not understanding what is happening.
After all, children watch television shows like Spongebob or iCarly and understand the episode, while not getting the jokes that are thrown in for parents to enjoy. It doesn’t mean either is experiencing it wrongly, just differently.
If someone tells me they like scary movies, I’ll generally ask which ones to get a feel for their tastes. I think something like Halloween or The Thing can be universally appreciated by a horror fan, while movies like Freddy vs Jason or Dead and Breakfast are a bit further into the genre and not suited for more “casual” fans. And that’s fine! I don’t watch movies like The Vow or whatever else Channing Tatum is in where he places a sensitive guy falling in love, but I also make a point to not give a fuck that other people do.
What I’m trying to say is this: can’t we all just coexist? I’m not even saying get along. I’m just saying let people enjoy what they enjoy. Don’t hate them for it when it’s just movies. Everyone is an individual and are allowed to have their own tastes. There’s no reason to throw a punch over a movie or to call someone an idiot because they don’t like what you do. Seeing what should be civil discourse and good conversation turn to name calling over personal opinion pushes me past my boiling point.