Sometimes I have people say to me:
“Hey, you watch a lot of movies and read a bunch and stuff. Maybe you should use that blog thing to do some reviews.”
Well, imaginary person, I just don’t know if that’s something I can do.
I actually have a serious problem with many, if not most reviews. I think the main problem is that there exists this idea among people who choose to review things that having a negative opinion somehow makes your opinion smarter. There is a hoard of nearly mindless contrary zombies groaning out whatever sound-bite they’ve decided to latch in on regarding a particular film, and though that is the only real negative aspect they might be able to focus on, they do so with fervor and completely negate any good that may be remaining in the film.
Sometimes this mindset is understandable if that one thing was something absolutely offensive or was a major point in the film. However, most of the time the thing people have decided to drone about is insignificant or at least not significant enough to mar an entire opinion about a film.
Let me give an example with a film from recent history that people have generally a negative view for: Suicide Squad.
I personally did not feel hatred toward this film. Was it ground-breaking or world-changing? No, but few superhero films have been if we look at it honestly. Suicide Squad was a nice “popcorn movie” meaning it was an entertaining action flick that didn’t try to be more or deeper than what was required of it to deliver so fun scenes and sarcastic one-liners. Outside of die-hard DC or Suicide Squad fans, I do not think this film deserves the kind of general reviling that it received.
So I saw the film and people would come into the shop and ask me what I thought. I would tell them exactly what I said above. Most people would agree. However, a good portion would respond with some version of the following:
“Oh, come on! It was TERRIBLE! I mean, Jared Leto’s Joker laugh? Awful! *Horrible imitation of Jared Leto’s already pretty pathetic Joker laugh*”
And that’s what the rest of the conversation would focus on. Granted, I had other people that mentioned the weak villain or seemingly disjointed “friendship” message, but those people usually followed those comments up with “but it was still a good action flick.” The only people I met in the months that movie was in theaters that actively DESPISED the film were a handful of DC/Squad die-hards (handful being like 3 or 4) and the truckload of “look, I can Joker laugh” douchebags. One element of the film, that the filmmakers hardly used (which has caused them trouble with one very upset diva [Come on, Jared]) is enough to make people just write it off entirely. Nope, 0 of 100. Garbage. Take it out behind the barn.
I think many people believe that having a strictly negative opinion on a piece of art makes them smarter, somehow superior to those who liked it or looked past this obviously damnable offense. I don’t think everybody feels this way, many might just be weak of will and unable to move past bias (Lord know that happens in politics [sorry had to get one in]). Others might just be following what a headline on Gawker or post in Reddit told them. Beyond that there are plenty of people that do it for a trolling or humor-based goal, a la Cinema Sins (which I love) and Rifftrax (Which I super love). However, I truly feel many people see the role of the Contrarian as a noble and intellectual role, and that’s just garbage.
I personally despise that mentality in reviews. That something is inherently good or bad, black or white, yes or no. That’s bullshit and it’s shown in the fact that there is a wide range of different themes and genres for books and movies and video games. People like different things and choose to entertain themselves in different ways. As such, if you hope to truly understand an art form, it’s important to look past the things that bug you and see just what makes that art form good in its own right. Growing up, I convinced myself I hated Rom-Coms. Today, while I still have qualms with many on a “wow, is this writing?” standpoint, the few handful I’ve seen have some very redeeming moments and solid aspects (Knocked Up is still the best, don’t care what you say). Many are even film classics (a la When Harry Met Sally) that I otherwise would have deprived myself of if I kept up my prejudice against them.
I think it’s important to understand that art has purpose, whether you understand it or not. If it’s not your cup o’ tea, it’s someone else’s, and it’s YOUR duty as someone who wants to discuss art to understand just what may make it approachable to certain folks. To push through the tangled vines of you own confusion or aversion to certain aspects and see the good in the art, the passion of the artists, and the inherent artistic quality in even the most basic pieces of media. Do not for the sake of those around you, but for yourself. Once you accept how universally beautiful art can be, the world itself becomes a more majestic, inspiring place.
I may start a series of positive reviews on here. We’ll see.