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The Knight is Darkest: Appeals to Fanboy Sanity…

To celebrate the release of The Dark Knight Rises, July is “Batman month” here at the m0vie blog. Check back daily for comics, movies and television reviews and discussion of the Caped Crusader.

Really?

Really?

I’ve honestly never understood the internet’s problem with divergent opinions. Why are people so deeply threatened by an opinion that differs from their own? Rotten Tomatoes had to shut down their commenting system after a bunch of rabid fanboys took to protesting negative reviews of The Dark Knight Rises. It’s not a new problem. It happened with the release of The Avengers as well. And The Dark Knight. It seems that internet comic book fans are extremely prone to this sort of violently obsessive behaviour. I say this as somebody familiar with comic books and somebody who really loved The Dark Knight Rises: Why?

Why is an opinion different from yours threatening to you?

The long Dark Knight of the soul…

The internet should be fun. It should allow people to meet up and discuss nerdy things that they love to talk about. The kind of things that are so nerdy and geeky that you’re unlikely to find another fan within walking distance. Oh, and it should also be used to coordinating data and other more socially important stuff too. But it isn’t as if having fun on it stops any of that admittedly more important stuff from happening, right?

I’m a nerd, and a geek. I concede that freely. I can tell you a lot about Bane and the history of Batman. I am unashamedly a fan of the character, and could talk for an extended period of time about him. In fact, I’m doing a whole month of that right now. So I’m not a snooty outsider who has some culturally elitist or snobbishly dismissive opinion of pulpy pop culture treasures. At the same time, I also loved Shame and Baraka, which proves I’m not some blindly slathering mainstream fanboy movie-goer who just digs blockbusters about men in tights. Because, you know, people exist as more than crude stereotypes.

When you have seen the film, you have my permission to comment…

As much as we throw around terms like “anti-intellectual” and “pseudo-intellectual”, the vast majority of people don’t fall into either camp. They just like what they like. And, you know what, why is it a crime if somebody likes something you don’t? I thought that Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close was a patronising and condescending trip through emotional manipulation, but I don’t hate those who found it deeply moving or spiritually fulfilling. I don’t think that they’re wrong. We just don’t share an opinion on that.

And that’s cool. Because people aren’t all one collection and homogeneous cultural consciousness. They are allowed opinions that differ from mine, as I am allowed opinions that are different from theirs. That doesn’t make us enemies. That doesn’t make it okay for me to belittle their opinions or condescend to them. That doesn’t make it okay for me to make misogynistic comments, to launch into ad hominem attacks or to make death threats.

The reaction’s gone critical…

Eric D. Snyder got into a bit of both for posting a fake Dark Knight Rises review just to troll those sorts of aggressive and obnoxious fans. You know what? He has a point. He was correct. That still doesn’t change the fact that there are more reasoned and logical ways to make his point. That doesn’t mean that any of the anonymous internet trolls should feel any less disgusted or ashamed with themselves, but it means that perhaps this whole situation needs to get less provocative.

As for the fans making these threats, these are the people who make me ashamed to admit that I enjoy this sort of stuff. Because people assume that you mightbe like that – some sort of aggressive basement-dwelling sociopath with severe mental issues and an inability to realise that… a negative review for that film you like? It doesn’t matter. Sorry, grammar goes out the window when I’m in full blown rant mode.

No wonder he became reclusive…

The really sad thing is that these fans who cry “cultural elitism” and “pop culture ghetto”? You’re reinforcing that. I won’t pretend that there isn’t an air of condescension around some of the major reviews of The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises, from critics who seem to think any movie about a grown man dressing up in a funny costume can’t be a well-made or thoughtful film.However, every time a story like this breaks, those guys get to say “I told you so” or “see, I told you these films weren’t for adults!”

Such opinions are just opinions – I don’t agree with them, but I think each to one’s own. People have their own preconceptions about movies that don’t feature illiterate Nazis. I’ll argue with them that they’re being short sighted or that their unfairly prejudiced towards the film. Science-fiction and horror films have gone through this for decades and only now are people beginning to acknowledge they can be valid social commentaries and mature contemplative films on their own terms.

Nobody’s safe…

But you know what? I’ll talk to them. I’ll engage. Because that’s the great thing about the internet. I can reach virtually anybody on the planet with a modem, and I can engage with them. Sure, I might not change the way that anybody looks at the world, but I might convince them to see something a bit differently. And they might do the same for me. I’m in the minority in really liking Prometheus, but that doesn’t mean I can’t learn something from reading the negative reviews – that they can’t broaden my horizons or suggest possibilities that I had ruled out.

The problem is that people use the internet to shout. To roar. To try to drown out opinions that are different, rather than acknowledging them. I find it hard to believe that any form of communications network is improved by that philosophy, regardless of size. We have this marvellous new technology that allows us to exchange idea half way across the planet… and we use it to threaten strangers who don’t like that film we haven’t seen yet?

Idol chatter…

Yeesh. Talking about films should be fun. This is not fun.

You know what? I strongly suspect that Ra’s Al Ghul, the Joker and Bane probably all formed their opinions on human nature while browsing the Rotten Tomatoes comments section. And I can’t blame them.

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10 Responses

  1. The Internet is a crazy place full of crazy people all entitled to their own opinions.

    Funny thing about this whole Rotten Tomatoes saga? Rotten Tomatoes is owned by Flixster who are owned by …. Warner Bros. Don’t you smell something fishy there?

    • Not really. No way they could suppress a negative review, if that’s what you’re implying. And closing the comment sections just provides bad PR, so I don’t think this is an attention-grabbing thing.

  2. Pathetic really. Hope there isn’t a rush to have this post shut down after the death threats come flying in!

    • I’m lucky enough to be small enough not to matter. The closest I’ve come to this mentallity is being told that I wasn’t a true Marvel fan and thus wasn’t qualified to describe The Avengers as “good, with an amazing last half hour, but pretty shallow.”

      I know that knowledge of Marvel shouldn’t matter in judging a film, but my better half had a good laugh at that assertion that I wasn’t a “true believer.”

  3. Speaking as someone with Asperger’s, I can understand when people attack a film you like it can touch a raw nerve as one’s grip on reality and social convention can be very fragile. Loving films and comics help me make friends, give something to talk about, and have something in common with neurotypicals.

    However, I have learned growing up everyone has an opinion and is entitled to it no matter how wrong you think they are. Personally, I doubt I would even be friends with some of these critics, so their opinion would only matter to me if I could only rely on their reviews and pick a film to watch because I knew I’d disagree with them. Sadly, many people on the Internet are socially alienated people, autistic, dyslexic or whatever, so it is unfortunate they don’t know to ignore someone.

    • Fair point. I mean, it’s important to remember that any attempt to attack another person’s opinion on such base terms is hardly productive.

      While death threats and misogynistic comments are obviously particularly crass and vile, I think that condescending can be just antagonistic – the notion that certain forms of media are inherently inferior because of their origins. If you want to reduce it to a simplistic dichotomy “cultural elitism” and “anti-intellectualism.”

      Though I do think there’s something to be said for reading and appreciating a dissenting opinion. I know one or two people who comment on here who would disagree with some of my opinions and I would with theirs, but I’m always delighted to have their insight. Art is, after all, subjective. While I can’t ever really see something the exact same way that somebody else does, I can broaden my own perspective by engaging with their views, even when I disagree with them. Crucially, I just don’t like the attitude that “you like/dislike [insert thing here], therefore you are an idiot!”

      Or maybe I’m just rambling nonsense.

  4. It’s the single worst thing about the Internet. The idea that people can “attack” someone else rather than using the medium as a great place to discuss and share views about a topic they share enthusiasm for. I started my blog because I wanted discussions about films and encourage people to tell me my view is wrong or shout it down.

    There are no words negative enough to describe someone who “trolls” and gives a person death threats because they don’t share a view or like something other people like. It becomes even more ridiculous when you realise that some of these people haven’t even seen the film they are fervently defending.

    • Yep. How do people get so invested in the worth of a film? You’d swear the critics had insulted these people personally. It’s very strange. Besides, the way Hollywood works, if the studios mess up a concept like this, you know there’ll probably be a reboot if you wait long enough.

      • Or even if they don’t mess up. I would guarantee that before the end of the year, we start to hear whispers about a Batman reboot now this story has ended.

      • I’ve been hearing whispers for months! The early rumour was that it was planned for 2014(!), but I think more reasoned heads prevailed.

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