Saturday, August 15, 2009

Tell Me About My Opinion

I would like to take a moment to address a growing issue that I have with people and movies. I have noticed this problem growing and growing for quite a while now, and I finally feel the need to say something about it.

I am talking about film snobs.

It starts out small. "Oh, you didn't see "film X"? It's amazing." Which is fine for the most part, because you are really excited about it and want to share it with people. Then it turns into, "You haven't seen "film X?" What's wrong with you?" Like somehow the undeserved indignation will spur the person into action. "Now I must go and see it because someone told me too!" Right.

After a while, people lose track of the ability to be entertained. "Brett Ratner sucks." people declare. Why? What was his grievous crime? On a regular basis I hear, "Michael Bay is the worst thing to happen to Hollywood." Really? What is your basis for comparison? What standard are you holding him up to? What is the arbitrary scale of achievement you are using? Michael Bay makes billions of dollars for movie studios. BILLIONS. He's doing something right.

With the Transformers sequel set to pass $400 million in just the U.S. in a few days, I would say Hollywood knows exactly what they are doing.

We are fans of cult cinema. By definition, that means that we like with a fevered passion what most other people do not like. More recently, "cult" has come to be synonymous with B-movie. We revel in the trash cinema of the 1970's, the rip off films from Italy, the exploitation genre and low budget horror. We are consumers of non-mainstream movies. Does that make us better than your average movie goes? Not by a long shot. It does mean, however, that Hollywood does not care what we think. We are a minority that torrents instead of buys. We share bootlegs with each other and do not support (for the most part) the distributors of the films.

Why is "Let the Right One In" getting remade? Money. Pure and simple. All one would have to do is look at the DVD sales of Quarantine versus [REC]. Why didn't some people buy "Let the Righ One In" on DVD? The subtitles were wrong in some places. Are you for real? So, because of a few changed lines of dialog, you choose not to support one of the best films of the year? That's pathetic.

God forbid if you don't agree with a film snobs opinion. "How could you not like "film X"? It was a masterpiece of the genre!" Well, guess what, my snobbish friend. That's your opinion. I'm not wrong. But, neither are you. There is something amazing that we as humans have. It's called differing opinions. No, really, it's true! People can actually disagree with your opinion. I know! Amazing isn't it? One of the worst infractions I have run across is the insistence that my opinion is wrong. You did in fact, read that right. I have been told that my opinion is wrong. I think that of all things, that may be the dumbest thing you can say to someone. If I was stating an empirical fact, like, "The atomic mass of Xenon is 131.27." Then you could tell me that I'm wrong. (It's 131.29.) However, when it comes to opinion, don't you dare tell me that I'm wrong.

One of my favorite comments from the mindless blogosphere is "George Lucas raped my childhood." Really? He raped an intangable abstract concept? I knew the man was good, but that verges on the amazing! Seriously, shut up about the prequels. Back ten years ago, all I heard was crap about Phantom Menace. But, let me tell you, come April 4th, 2000, I was selling the VHS to the very same people that were bashing it. Are they hypocrites? No, not really. Just people that have a hard time thinking for themselves and enjoying a movie for what it is.

But, back to the snobs. Yes, there are true film snobs. The ones that watch German post-war reconstruction films and eagerly await the resurgence of the Trümmerfilm. Pseudo-snobs are far worse. With their outrage at the fact that Hollywood would DARE to make a mainstream movie, comes resentment for the re-makes and re-boots of franchises that managed to drive a stake squarely and deeply in it's own wallet years and years before Michael Bay could get a hold of it.

What is it that is held so dear about the villains of old horror franchises? Michael Myers became an undead druid controlled killing machine. Freddy Kruger turned into a stand up comedian. Pinhead started spouting one liners (right before he went into space,) Jason Vorhees followed Pinhead right up into the vacuum after he became one the the undead, and then a demonic worm thing. For Christ's sake, Leatherface was in a movie with Renee Zellweger!

These franchises jumped an entire ocean of sharks way before they were re-made. All of them sold out to the highest bidder in the end. All of them turned into a self referential joke before they were unceremoniously retired.

Now people pine for the time when horror movies were good. When the hell was that? I don't remember a time when everything that Hollywood put out was gold. It's always been like this. In the early 80's it was Star Wars and Alien rip offs. None of those were any good at all. Neither were the mass produced horror rip offs either.

People, take a minute and remember what it was like to enjoy something. It doesn't have to be good for you to enjoy it. Trust me I know. I hear what people are reviewing on their shows. Just stop being so uptight. Relax and enjoy yourself. Time goes by too fast. Don't waste it being pissed off at a faceless industry.

People actually think that if they don't go to the movies it will teach Hollywood a lesson. Wait... actually it will. If you don't go and pay for what you want to see, the producers will continue to make more "Scary Movie" type movies. Think about it. If everyone that likes "independent" cinema doesn't go and torrents the movies that they want to see, the cash only goes to Transformers 2. So, the studio execs will make more of what makes money and less "indy" films.

Huh, how about that.

Or maybe, there are more average people out there that go to movies to only be entertained for two hours and to escape from the everyday drudgery of their lives. Not everyone (and truthfully not even a good percentage of people) are looking for anything at all from a movie. They do not live and breath it like we do. I love movies so much, I have worked in movie theaters for almost 20 years now.

I love all kinds of movies. I will not rule anything out. (Except maybe a select few because of subject matter.) I am proud that I am not and will never be a film snob. I am a blue collar film watcher and reviewer.

And never, ever, tell me my opinion is wrong.


  1. I second your sentiments, Chris! Film snobbery has always been around but I wonder if the internet has something to do with it becoming more severe. Back in the day before everyone could know the opinion of everyone else on the planet, there wasn't such an imperitive to have the 'right' opinion. There was less people to have to look cool in front of so people generally had a softer, more forgiving, and more honest outlook on what they liked or didn't like. Now it's bad form to be caught supporting the wrong films or not supporting the right ones.

    Your point that many people simply want to enjoy a movie is dead-on. The vast majority of people don't eat and breathe movies. They're just entertainment to some people - and sometimes I think that more fans would be better off taking that attitude as well.

  2. This was really good Chris and it got me thinking. I had to reply and I apologize for the length.

    I try very hard not to be the film snob. I love movies and sometimes I can get fired up, but at the same time I try not to dismiss someones view point.

    I remember all the great movies I've watched and been entertained by. For every Citizen Kane that I've watched there has been a Tango and Cash.

    I didn't like the Transformers movie but I love Michael Bay. My problems with the movie seemed overshadowed by everyone saying see Bay sucks. No he doesn't, he makes great action movies. I think people forget sometimes to review the movie not the individual. In fact there is a good documentary called Heckler that has some good points about critics.

    I'll end with a little story. I've always been a nerd and my dad was a jock. Played professional soccer in England and so it seemed that we were really two different people. It was hard sometimes for my dad and I to see eye to eye. One day we went to a movie and we both clicked with it. It was one of the greatest experiences I had with my dad and after that we went to see more movies. We finally found something that we both loved and could talk about. That intial movie, The Rock. I have a lot of time for Mr Bay.

  3. Thank you both for such insightful responses. I was a little hesitant to write this at first, considering I give my opinion on a weekly basis!

    I had a saying at the 20 screen theater when we were dealing with all of the prints that came in, "I treat every movie like it is The Empire Strikes Back. This (regardless of what it is) will be someone's favorite movie."

    Movies are a universal and wonderful way to connect with people. Wait, I have a new idea for a blog post...