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Spoiling for a Fight: Thoughts on Contemporary Spoiler Culture…

It’s happening again.

Last year, to mark the release of Avengers: Infinity War, Thanos demanded your silence. This year, to mark the release of Avengers: Endgame, audiences are being told not to spoil the endgame. These campaigns are indicative of how a lot of modern pop cultural discourse works; for example, discussions around Game of Thrones or Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker. There’s a strong push in modern pop culture towards the concealing plot details from these big monumental works, these pop cultural events. There is a strong push to preserve surprise and to avoid direct discussion of the material in any real detail, for fear that such discussions might possibly reach the eyes of somebody who would rather remain uninformed of any details about these phenomena.

To be fair, it is possible to sympathise with such a position. People want to enjoy media on their own terms. People do not want to have their responses to media shaped by outside factors like the opinions of others or the details of the plot. While one can readily cite studies suggesting that spoilers can actively improve enjoyment of a film, it is also entirely possible to find studies that argue the exact opposite. More than that, it is increasingly difficult for a person to avoid coming into contact with media talking about these pop cultural phenomenon; social media is built on the concept of immediacy and relevance, and so anybody connected in anyway to the internet is bound to have some contact with Star Wars, Game of Thrones or Endgame.

At the same time, there is something slightly suffocating in all of this. There has always been mass culture. There have always been people writing about mass culture. There has always been media that could be spoiled. There have always been press screenings. There was a seven month gap between the premiere of The Usual Suspects at Sundance and its release to the American public, and its twist remained a surprise to the general public. Generally speaking “just use your common sense” has always been good advice when talking about a particular film or television show. As such, the modern panic over “spoilers” seems unnecessary and counterproductive.

Note: This article contains a variety of spoilers, most heavily for Avengers: Infinity War and Captain Marvel. Put proceed at your peril.

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Tall Tales from a Lincoln Test Screening: Critiquing the Critics…

Apparently there was a test screening of Lincoln in New Jersey. I know this because the film media has gone absolutely wild over it. What’s astonishing about this coverage is the fact that it’s less about how rare it is to test Spielberg movies (Hook was the last one tested, and we know how that turned out), but more about the perceived responses to audience comments coming from that screening. Critics and pundits were quick to dismiss audience members speaking out as “anonymous jackasses” or to question their critical faculties…

Which all seems a bit much, doesn’t it?

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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…

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That’s Just, Like, Your Opinion, Man: Movie Criticism and Subjectivity…

What do you use movie critics for? What’s their function or role? Is there a distinction between a film reviewer and a film critic? What do their opinions or verdicts mean? It’s getting to the point where the last thing the internet needs is another pretentious self-indulgent meditation on the nature of writing about film, but I’ve been thinking about it a lot of late. The blockbuster season seems to bring with it the classic “audience against critic” debate, not that it’s ever truly gone. Even at the heights of Oscar season, the argument is bristling away in the background, as people lament the relatively low box office if critic-pleasing films like The Artist.

"Yeah, well, you know, that's just, like, your opinion, man..."

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“Must Do Better”: Dramatic Talents & Wasted Potential…

There’s something very sad about Eddie Murphy. His latest movie, A Thousand Words, opened last Friday in the States with an almost impressive 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. That means that there wasn’t a single reviewer who though that the movie was even “okay”, let alone “good” or “great.” It’s are to find a film that can generate such a consensus, although I don’t think anybody was especially astounded that Eddie Murphy headlined a comedy that was frustrating and disappointing. Of course, he has undoubtedly made a lot of money, and has decided that this is what he wants to do, but there’s something very frustrating about actors like Eddie Murphy, who have demonstrated uncanny ability, but seem willing to settle for generic film after generic film.

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Going Against the Grain: Unpopular Movie Opinions…

I quite liked J. Edgar. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t think it was perfect or anything like that, but I thought it was an interesting piece of cinema that clearly articulated Eastwood’s views on twentieth century America, fitting as part of a tapestry the director had crafted exploring the country’s history. However, I still feel a little uncertain about my opinion. After all, it seems that most critics quite disliked it. I know that anybody writing or discussing film is required to formulate their own opinion, but there is a strange feeling that comes with disagreeing with the majority opinion. While the world wouldn’t be an interesting place if we all agreed, it’s sometimes hard to reconcile the individual’s opinion against that of the critical majority.

Suits you, sir...

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Critical Revisionism: Retrospective Re-Evaluation…

It’s funny. I always figured that long-term critical re-evaluation was sort of a one-way street. I guess it always seemed that people were talking about “classics” that got an unfair rap from critics and audiences on initial release, but have subsequently become amongst the most influential films within their genre. I’m talking about movies like Blade Runner or The Thing, movies that were attacked on initial release, but have undergone a massive transformation and vindication in popular consciousness. I generally figured that good films that got bad reviews would eventually be found and praised for the quality productions that they were, while over-praised mediocre (or worse) films would languish in purgatory, forgotten about, save the occasional television re-run. So I’m surprised at the way the tide seems to have turned against Juno in the five years since the film’s original release.

Well, that's one response...

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