Thursday, April 7, 2016

Dear Hollywood: Critics Can Be Fans Too

**Spoilers mixed in here so beware!**

There's an odd disconnect in this country. I see it in two places primarily. One is when people talk about celebrities or people they perceive as celebrities. There is an accepted level of badmouthing and ridicule that happens when speaking about these individuals in very public places...never mind that the internet makes the world so small that the subject of these talks can usually see the postings...and that not all "celebrities" are off boating in Spain, using 100's to light their cigars...and the small fact that the individual is human with feelings. In a world so hellbent on shielding disenfranchised folks from the cruelty of bullies, we sure do have double standards for if and when that protection comes into play. The other point of disconnect is with "critics", who are spoken of as if they are a race of creatures separate from the bipedal ruling class of the planet Earth. These beings spout baseless opinion, often agreeing with each other as the winds of trend dictate, spreading falsehood and furthering an agenda to crush films they unanimously decide are unworthy. This is all ridiculous, of course, but read the comments across the internet pointing to reviews of the recent, reigning box office champion Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and you'll see it's not far from what some people are saying.

"Are film critics in this day and age completely useless? We wondered as much in a recent post after nearly every notable movie critic out there slammed Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice in their reviews"

I'm here today to remind you, not that every critic is a special, unique snowflake to be shielded from your collective scorn, but that, as human beings with individual thoughts and tastes, critics are capable of being fans too. I's crazy. Let me break this down for you.

Hi. I'm Paul. I've been writing about pop culture in one form or another, across websites and magazines, for over 20 years now. I'm not sure what qualifies people to be called "critics" these days, but I gather I've got over 200 reviews of films out there, so I have no problem being identified as one. I was raised on DC Comics, favoring Marvel's more realistic universe midway through elementary school. Back then and through much of high school, all I wanted to do was be an artist. All through high school (and the tail end of elementary), my favorite thing to do would be walking 20 blocks or so to the video store to rent three horror movies that would get me through the weekend. The movies aired on TV I watched most often starred Vincent Price, were Kung Fu movies or old black and white films. To say I have seen and own a LOT of movies is an understatement. As you can plainly see, I'm a fan of comic books and movies, and many other things you can peruse my social media listings to discover. a fan of Batman comics, I am allowed to say that, as a film maker, when you put Batman in a Batmobile and have him drive straight through property and human beings alike while firing guns that set supposed bad guys ablaze by the aren't writing Batman. When you have Batman leave someone alive, only to brand them, ensuring they are horribly tortured and murdered in prison at a later date, you assure me you don't care about the Batman that's been around for years. You probably hate the Batman that never takes the easy way out...which is to say, despite the difficulty and self sacrifice, he brings a bad guy in to face justice...alive, with all his body parts...maybe somewhat broken, but still attached. If you make a relentless, blood thirsty Batman, I am allowed to call you out and suggest you have not read, understand, or care to understand the comics, and further, don't care much for those that do....and no amount of "direct from the comic book moments" will convince me otherwise. Anyone can copy from great writers and artists, but that doesn't mean they understand why those moments were great...or as I've said before, care to.

Expanding on that...

Taking the potentially super snarky, intelligent Lois Lane and just continually putting her in harms way so Superman can save her is not utilizing the character well.
Doing your best to make the ultra charismatic, genius level evil Lex Luthor as off putting as possible makes us long for him to get off the screen, not be beaten by super heroes.
Taking an amazing character like Wonder Woman and using most of her screen time to show off her figure in flattering something that should have been rethought.
Having the colossal clash between Batman and Superman end because Superman calls out overly convenient writing...and it's not a stretch to call it dumb.

These are opinions...and facts. And I don't believe for a second they would sway an entire nation to see a movie or not. Remember... Avatar is the highest grossing movie of all time and it's about tribal blue aliens fighting high tech wielding humans claiming eminent domain. Van Helsing made 300 million world wide.
I don't need to be right...and I don't need to convince people that my opinion is the right one, but when my thoughts are dismissed because i'm a "critic" ..well...I hate to break it to you, but there are thousands of "critics" out there who work regular jobs in every field imaginable. They saw the movie on opening weekend...and they went home and told their friends the film was a loud, obnoxious mess with some pretty visuals and the promise of more ultra violent, non-faithful DC films. Luckily we still have the TV shows to take care of us.

So, to the self important journalists who feel they have to explain a movie to us and Hollywood executives and creatives that are feeling a little hurt that their vision isn't being widely praised, I say this. Get over it. You are going to have to accept that if you make films that ignore years of comic books to create a world you think is more awesome, then you are going to anger comic fans. You also have to accept that if you make a movie that isn't very well thought out, movie fans and various logical human beings will tell you as much.

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