Note: As can be inferred from the headline, the language in this editorial is going to be a little saltier than the FilmBuffOnline norm.
It is safe to say that fan entitlement has gotten completely the fuck out of control.
I am not talking about the little uproars over things like the redesigned look of Rita Repulsa in the upcoming Power Rangers film. I am talking about the big, boisterous bullshit I see from fans who are taking their perceived ownership of a geek property and sense of self-entitlement way too far. So far, in fact, that they have reache the point where they have become national news and an embarrassment to the more sane sector of genre fans.
Previously this year, we’ve seen man-babies hurl sexist and racist screeds at the Ghostbusters reboot. But their temper tantrums have now been surpassed on the stupidity meter by the idiots who have set up an online petition to have film critic aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes closed down due to the low composite score that Suicide Squad has received from professional film reviewers who have published in advance of the film’s release this Friday.
(Let’s pause here for a moment to establish a few things before I go further. 1.) I have seen Suicide Squad and my review should be published Thursday afternoon. 2.) I am not a participating critic on Rotten Tomatoes. 3.) My collection of DC Comics numbers close to twelve thousand issues, vastly outnumbering my Marvel collection by about ten-to-one. So don’t try pulling the Marvel partisan card on me.)
Let’s start by asking a rather simple question. When has killing the messenger ever changed the news that they brought? I’ll answer that for you – Never. As of right now, there are 73 total reviewers whose reviews have given the film a total score of 33%. That means even though there were 24 reviewers who liked the film there were 49 who didn’t like it so much. If Rotten Tomatoes was to magically disappear tomorrow those reviews would still be out there, and still be fairly easily accessible. That’s how the internet works.
But let’s take a look at the wording of the petition, such as it is.
We need this site to be shut down because It’s Critics always give The DC Extended Universe movies unjust Bad Reviews, Like
1- Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice 2016
2- Suicide Squad 2016
and that Affects people’s opinion even if it’s a really great movies
While it is easy to be distracted by the random capitalizations and poor grammar, I am interested in the usage of the word “unjust” here. It implies that the critics have some nefarious reason to sabotage the box office potential of these films. This is just a variation of the ridiculous “Marvel paid off reviewers to like Captain America: Civil War and to hate Batman V Superman” outcry that popped up earlier this year. Of course, there is never any actual proof offered to back up their allegations, but that’s just a little detail that does not mean much to these folks. It was a stupid and insulting pile of shit then and it is more so now.
I suppose it should also be noted that Rotten Tomatoes is in part owned by Warner Brothers, who also just happens to be the owners of DC Comics. So it doesn’t make much sense that the site would be in collusion with critics to damage its own owner’s business. They just are not going to purposefully and very illegally shoot themselves in the foot like that.
Just because they make a movie about something you like, does not necessarily mean that it is a good movie. I like the DC Comics characters quite a bit. And I think that the folks behind the live action TV shows over on the CW – Arrow, The Flash, Legends Of Tomorrow and now Supergirl – have been hitting it pretty much out of the park with their product. Gotham, over on Fox, on the other hand is a bit of a slog to get through and I am probably not returning to it in the fall when its third season starts up. The first two installments of the DC Extended Universe franchise are not good films and that is my considered opinion based on not only years of watching all sorts of films, but on being very familiar with the material being adapted as well as years of reading film criticism and thinking about the elements that go into making a good film. When I see these “fans” going on and on about how great Man Of Steel is, I wonder if they have ever read Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics, let alone anything on actual film criticism. And I have yet to read any credible argument being put forth that these films are as good as their defenders say they are. To them, just the act of disagreement with critics is enough, there is no need to actually buttress your opinion with fact or a well-reasoned argument.
As for Rotten Tomatoes affecting box office receipts? Well, let’s take a look at some numbers. Man Of Steel has a 55% RT score and opened with a $116.7 million domestic weekend. Batman V Superman has a 27% Rotten Tomatoes rating and yet it pulled in $166 million domestically its opening weekend. Suicide Squad is currently tracking to take in somewhere in the neighborhood of $140 million. While both Man Of Steel and Batman V Superman had some heavy falls in their second weekends, that can be attributed more to poor word-of-mouth than the Rotten Tomatoes scores that were already in place when they had their very impressive debut weekends. To say that the reviews affected the box office when they were already published before the opening weekend is just a gross misread of the timeline of events.
Look, I get it. Conspiracy theories are fun. They make us feel better when things don’t go the way we wanted them to. And it really gives the ol’ ego a big boost, knowing that there are forces at work out there plotting to make you miserable. You must be important if reviewers are in collusion to make people think that the thing you like might not be as good as you are hoping it will be. And the best part of conspiracy theories is that no matter how much proof one can produce to dismiss the conspiracy theory away as the load of balloon stuffing that it is can just be hand-waved away as something manufactured to discredit said theory. It’s a win-win for the reality challenged.
Ultimately, though, such nonsense doesn’t get us anywhere. No one can take you seriously when you say such ridiculous things as critics have been paid off or starting petitions to have a site that only centralizes but doesn’t actually generate the criticisms that you object to taken down. It’s time for some fans to grow up and participate in the conversation that the rest of us grown-ups are having. If you want to try and convince me that Batman V Superman is a great film, than come at me with a well structured thesis. I would love to hear it. I am open to all hearing other people’s opinions and interpretations of films. Sometimes, they even change my mind or my point of view. But if all you have is some childish behavior and wild, un-provable accusations, you really just need to sit down and shut the fuck up.