Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Is One Harsh Critic

I'm kind of tired of being blamed for others' shoddy work -- not just as a critic, but as an audience member. Time and again over the last several years, stars, creators, and insiders have blamed critics and audiences for their failures, and there's literally no truth to it. No one listens to the "obsessed, virgin fanboys that live in their moms' basements" who actually appreciate their product; they listen to Million Mommy Madness and fucking Wonkette -- people who will never buy their product, and don't know the first thing about the industry!

I am a harsh critic, or at least I can be, and I've no need to apologize for that. For the record, I always try to find at least one good thing to say about everything I review -- and that's nowhere near as easy as it sounds. I don't even have to do that! As a creator, I know how difficult it can be to release a project to an often unappreciative public, but it is not my place as a critic to blindly promote your work, and it is not my place as an audience member to blindly support your desire to work in the industry.

The last decade or more has brought the viewing public nothing but facile blockbusters; endless, unwanted reboots and remakes; subpar, massive, endless crossover events; bland, soulless, pop music; humorless attempts at sit-coms designed not to amuse, but to avoid the consternation of special interest groups and Internet trolls; and 30 or 40 CSI and Law and Order spinoffs; as well as a plethora of excuses as to why they don't work. It's an insult.

Where are all the Spenser: For Hires, the Hunters, the Designing Womens, the Charmeds, the Buffy: The Vampire Slayers, the TNT MonsterVisions? Where are the summer teenage sex romps; the mad slasher SFX-fests;
the multi-generational, romantic epics; the Fight Clubs and Goodfellas? Can you make a single comedy that doesn't feature Will Ferrell, Kevin Hart, or Melissa McCarthy? Can you make a blockbuster that isn't either a remake, reboot, or caped crusader rock-em-sock-em? Can we have some Goddamn variety -- and can you be bothered to make it worth viewing?

All the industry does anymore is rehash formulaic horseshit, then shove it down our collective throat with aggressive, offensive PR campaigns that accuse us of being cynical bigots if we dare not to enjoy it -- "The best thing you're not watching!" Or they turn it into some bullshit political cause that's "too important not to discuss," and "is not to be missed!" Or, and this is my very favorite, they portray it as a personal attack on one or more of the creators or participants.

Fuck you.

Even if a product stinks -- I mean, just reeks-up the place -- my job as a critic is to pay it my full attention. I have to deconstruct it to find out why it doesn't work, what could have been done to make it work, and -- as I stated above -- at least one thing about it that isn't just God-awful. Sure, I'm snarky and often mocking, but if you would like to spend four or five hours a day sifting through mostly bad work, then another two or three hours discussing it without losing your fucking mind, I invite you to show me how it's done!

I was snarky and mocking long before I became a critic, and running me off of social media or out of the industry isn't going to change the fact that you're churning-out and promoting bad product to ever-diminishing numbers that don't want it. And all the free lunches, cocaine, and blowjobs in the world won't fix that.

Readership is down, viewership is down, subscriptions are down, attendance is down -- across the boards -- and this is not the fault of any critic, nor the fault of "The Internet," nor the audiences'; the general consensus is that the brunt of mainstream entertainment these days is lacking. But, instead of accepting accountability and trying to make better product, the industry at-large has doubled-down on latching onto silly fads, using promotional stunts and gimmicks, and blaming everyone else for their failures. Even if I decide to use my little outlet here as some kind of bully pulpit, I don't have 1/10th the reach of the large corporations or average celebrity, so no one's pulling your shows or canceling your titles based on my recommendation -- if they aren't succeeding, it's because they are not that good, or it just isn't a product the public wants at that time.


I haven't even bothered writing reviews in the last few years because it got to be too depressing! It became more and more difficult to find something positive to say about every piece, and I don't get many promotional products. Comics cost $4.00 each, the average theater ticket costs $8.50. For the price of two comic books, or a theater ticket for one movie on the big screen, I can afford Netflix or Hulu for an entire month. If a comic book doesn't just blow me away, I've wasted half a month's worth of viewing entertainment finances -- and that comic book wasted my time. I don't have to make excuses for why it didn't blow me away, and I don't have to "support" the people who worked on it just because they want to be in the industry. I'd like to be a billionaire, but that doesn't mean I deserve to be, and it doesn't mean that you (nor anyone else) has to make that happen.

(Ignore that; I do deserve to be a billionaire, and it is your responsibility to make that happen.)


F
or years now, the entertainment industry has chosen to appease special-interest groups to avoid controversy and keep sponsors. More recently, they've taken to courting controversy for the free publicity. And while they have always licked the boots of fresh, "hot" talent, they've now begun pandering to the lowest common denominator, who -- almost universally -- do not subscribe to, listen to, view, or patronage the industry in any way. To combat losses in audience, they have steadily raised the price of admission. What they have not done is focus on making better product for the actual fans. They have created a hostile environment both online, and within the industry, filled with blame and accusations and victimhood. If my attitude has become tainted by this along the way, they've no one to blame but themselves.


The entire PR campaign for the Ghostbusters remake was literally, "If you don't go see this movie, you hate women!" When, in fact, no one wanted a Ghostbusters remake -- not with an all-male cast, not with an all-female cast, not with an all-black cast, not with a cast of puppets -- not at all. Resorting to offending and browbeating half of the prospective viewing audience before the film even premiered is about as low as it gets. The movie still failed -- it failed with male audiences, it failed with female audiences, it failed with critics -- because it was a bad movie that no one wanted!


They began by insulting male movie-goers
and
over-hyping the product. They created an antagonistic environment of mostly non-fans who trolled every message board, blog, and social media platform, accusing everyone of not "supporting" their endeavor because we're all bigots of one kind or another. Then, despite the fact that the product was bad to begin with, it's all our fault for not both paying an inflated price to see, and pretending to enjoy, a shit sandwich that no one wanted and no one could relate to. That is the very height of bitterness and cynicism.

Given that approach, I can't believe anyone in the industry thought Ghostbusters was going to work in the first place, so I'm not going to hold back when it comes to reviewing it (I'm not going to review it). They knew it was a shit script, so they resorted to stuntcasting to try and save it before they lost the rights. When cinephiles ("rabid fanboys who live in their moms' basements," of course) saw that for the gimmick it is, they started publicly shaming them, and recruited others to pile-on as some kind of "social cause."


Goddammit, I liked Gingerdead Man 2: Passion of the Crust -- unironically! It was stupid, silly, completely over-the-top, and I'm reasonably certain almost everyone involved has done porn. But it was the most entertaining hour and 10 minutes of a movie I've seen without a RiffTrax in the last 10 years. And it was written and directed
by a woman!
In fact, despite the Internet myth the media scum have perpetuated for the last several years, women constitute a significant portion of the entertainment industry -- in all positions. And if I were one of those women, I'd be pretty pissed-off that it's you "social justice warriors," "activist mommy bloggers," sensationalistic clickbaiters, and wanna-bes who fail to appreciate, or even acknowledge, their contributions -- not the critics, not the reviewers, and not the fanboys.

C
yberbullying audiences and critics into both purchasing and "liking" sub-quality work has become the standard
promotional tack for the entertainment industry, as a whole. And, if that doesn't work, they discredit, belittle, or silence us through veiled threats, DDoS attacks, intimidation, harassment, spam comments, and gangstalking.

An underwhelming product
is one thing, but being trolled into purchasing it, then harassed into giving it a positive spin -- at the risk of being attacked and blamed for it and/or the creators' failure, if I do not -- makes me angry. And justifiably so. You shouldn't feel the need to guilt-trip me, or even kiss my ass, just to get a positive (or not "harsh") critique. I don't want free product, or gifts, or money (I would not turn down any of those things); I want you to make product that I enjoy -- that makes me want to encourage others to seek it out, and hopefully enjoy it, as well. And, by reviewing your product, I'm literally telling you what does and does not work. If you choose to ignore that advice, that's fine!

I don't have to mention you or your fucking product; I can let it slide right into the slush pile of obscurity, where it most likely belongs and usually winds up anyway. I don't work for you, and you don't pay me. You don't "deserve" a job in the industry just because you really want one, and if you force your way in by stepping on and disrespecting others, you deserve to be forced-out.


And I no longer feel the need, nor the desire, to attempt to approach that -- nor any of you -- in a reasonable manner, because you're just trolling us. No matter how reasonable we try to be, every attempt at discussion quickly devolves into an irrational exchange of personal insults and baseless accusations of racism, sexism, bigotry, victimization, and plain old nastiness. And this is the environment you have fostered -- or, at the very least, sat back and ate popcorn while watching it take hold -- to exploit.


Years ago, you had a point with the "rabid fanboys" bit. A lot of people got out-of-hand, and I'm sure I was one of them -- at least sometimes. But things have changed, and it's now the non-fans -- many of whom are female and/or lay claim to spreading "social justice" -- who are terrorizing the Web, and your audiences. It's not our fault that young, white males overwhelmingly constitute the comics-buying audience, or that the vaunted 18-36 age group no longer watches TV. And, if you can't create product that appeals to other demographics, then shaming, bullying, and destroying the only demographic to which you do still appeal is a really, fucking stupid tactic. That's what has brought entertainment to its knees, and I know you know it.

It is not my fault for not liking mediocre product or creators -- nor is it the fault of the public. You failed -- or the company failed, or the network, or the publicity campaign, or whatever else went wrong -- and it isn't my fault for pointing that out. In fact, that's my fucking job! And the only thing I can say in that regard is that, if certain people find my criticism overly "harsh" or too "negative," then at least one of us is actually doing their job.

You don't deserve to get paid for wasting our fucking time, and we don't deserve to have interlopers stalking us just to shit on us and the things we love. Fire your hack, PR "social media experts" and learn what the fuck you're doing, or find work elsewhere.

© The Weirding, 2016

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