For the last couple of years I’ve been trying to wrap my head around an increasingly vocal segment of our readership – people who seem to hate weird, offbeat, unique and difficult movies. They came out in force lately for Splice, but they’ve been around for a while. I still get emails and comments from people who are angry with me for recommending Observe and Report to them; I’m baffled by that because I always thought that our readership was tuned in to dark, edgy, odd and downright bizarre stuff. Especially genre stuff.
I’m not saying everybody has to like the same things – that would be boring – but it’s been weird seeing so many people utterly turned off by anything that wasn’t safe and mainstream.
Here’s a comment that was left on my Splice review this morning that I feel like really captures this phenomenon:
I can’t help but wonder if film geeks born after the mid-80s just have different tastes, or if there’s just more mainstream filmgoers on sites like AICN and Chud due to all the popular novel and comic book adaptations that have been coming out since the early 00s but film geeks lately have been pissing me off. It feels like an entire generation of kids has been raised to think that films have to behave a certain way and anything that’s a little campy, weird, different gets shat on and ridiculed by the types of people I would have thought would have appreciated it. It’s a shame that so many fans on a site like Chud or AICN are shitting on this movie with the kinds of mainstream criticisms normally reserved for Holllywood blockbusters. There used to be a time where film geeks bought magazines, went to conventions and spoke lovingly about makeup gore, special effects, and just about any movie that pushed the boundaries of good taste. Guys like John Carpenter, David Cronenberg, Sam Raimi, etc could pack thousands into convention halls for their autographs. These guys seemed rebellious. They were making movies on their terms and putting up images of dark humor, violence, gore, sex, etc in ways the rest of us could only imagine in our dreams or nightmares. There was this cool little underground aspect to it all and the midnight showings were the best because people didn’t walk out complaining and bitching about how unrealistic things were, or acting, or whatever… The bad became good. Poorly delivered lines became classic quotes. Tree rape scenes became legendary. People were appreciative and willing to suspend disbelief because they felt privileged to be able to see the kinds of sights, sounds and ideas that the studios wouldn’t dare show us because 7 out 10 average, everyday citizens wouldn’t approve of those images. “Fans” these days feel so entitled and haters look up criticisms from professional critics and feel validated to spread that hate anywhere that will let them. In the past, those voices weren’t heard so fandom was more positive and appreciative. Ahhh, look at me getting all nostalgic. Splice isn’t a masterpiece or an instant classic in my books (I’ve seen a shitload of movies) but it’s good and I appreciate Chud trying to build box office support.
I wonder what it would be like if Evil Dead 2 were released today. Would it get relentlessly run down on the internet for being too silly and for the performances and production value? Have we become a world of film fans who can only accept movies that look like they cost a hundred million dollars, that have no tonal variances, and that adhere to Robert McKee-style rules of structure? I wonder how Peter Jackson and Sam Raimi would have fared if there had been an internet when they were making their first films.
Or are Dhelix and I just missing the forest for the whiny trees? The counter argument is that the same smart, brave and involved film geeks are out there, but they’re harder to hear over the hordes of kids who just wait around for the next cycle of explodomatic summer blockbusters to roll around.
We’re in a weird place where the geeks won, and maybe it wasn’t as good as we hoped it would be. Maybe a Hollywood that’s going after every one of our beloved properties isn’t as cool as we thought. Maybe it’s just another way for Hollywood to shut out unique and interesting voices and visions, all in favor of cookie cutter movies…. but we just happen to really like this particular cookie cutter.
What do you think? Sound off below or on our message board (registration is open right now). Nasty, trolling comments will never see the light of day, so try to be constructive and thoughtful.
Behind every great book adaptation is a forgettable first try. — By Ryan Covey