Saturday, 15 April 2017

A Little Less Reactionary

    I like the Internet for all the good that can be extrapolated from it. For years I have found the Internet to be an immeasurable encyclopaedic wealth of crafting and design knowledge. Thanks to all the tutorials and stories that I watch and follow I discovered a world of doll making, have tried new recipes that changed my tastebuds and have been able to buy those seriously hard to find books that just can’t be found in good old fashion bookstores [you know, those places where inky print still exists]. Basically the Internet has helped keep alive old school artistic skills that otherwise would have disappeared with the previous generation.

    Much like your beloved city, the Internet too has a dark side, and for the sake of personal safety you get to know which areas to avoid. But unlike the city the Internet is not always so easy to ignore. Specifically I speak of the negative voices that come together like a masked Greek chorus pointing a finger at people courageous enough to say something worthwhile or create something beautiful.

    In one such scenario, a heartbreaking result of so many negative voices on the Internet is the damage it can cause to box office ticket sales when films come out. Recently I became aware of a disturbing trend in which people filmed their own reactions to film trailers.  

    I came across a montage reaction video for a certain film trailer and was horrified by the vile comments. How is this behaviour okay? Do the ‘reactors’ think they are funny? When these reactionary reviewers [I use this term loosely because anyone with a camera and the vocabulary of a fourteen year old can call themselves a reviewer] put it out there that they are purposely not going to watch the film, and encourage others to follow that example, what do they hope to achieve? Are they proud? Do they feel they have acted out a public service?

    Several years ago I watched bonus features for the making of Transformers. This was my first introduction to Transformer fanatics – people who thought it was completely normal and okay to send Michael Bay death threats and accusing him of ruining Transformers. For a bit of context, Bay was receiving these threats long before filming began. A disappointing example of people who claim a love for Transformers and behaving like Decepticons.
I appreciate elements of Bay’s vision, though that’s not to say I am not critical of his work. My appreciation/critical thinking comes from a place of wanting to see the good in the work of others. We all have a right to an opinion, but I would never want my own pre-conceived notions be the thing that tears other people down. Even when I watch a movie that I ultimately didn’t enjoy, I think about all the people who tried so hard to make that movie. I want to find something, anything that makes that movie worthwhile. I’ve seen films in which the script was a bit weak, but heck, the actors did a decent job carrying it. In another film the acting might have been a bit wooden, but wow, ‘how about that cinematography, huh’. See what I’m doing here? A good reviewer needs to understand there is balance in how we react. Now, I’m not a hug fan of horror films and so I don’t go out of my way to watch this genre, but I also don’t judge these films harshly. Why is that? ­– Because I know that horror films is a starting point for a lot of people in the film industry, but also because I can’t judge a genre that I don’t understand in its complexity.

    Way back in 2015 I heard there would be a new Jem and the Holograms film. I grew up being an even bigger fan of Jem than I was of Transformers [Yes, I was a child of the eighties], so you can imagine how excited I was about this piece of news. I eagerly Google-tuned myself to cinema release updates. I had planned to take my kids, and we would dress up for the epic event [you know I’m talking pink hair wigs]. Unfortunately cinema dates were continuously being pushed back, until finally the news came from an acquaintance working in the industry that the film was dropped from screening. It was available on DVD – that was something, but I was really looking forward to throwing my support to the filmmakers by going to the cinema. So what happened?

    Quick online research showed me that so called Jem fans decided to purposely avoid the film because it was so very different to Jem of the eighties. So the very people the film industry was relying on to line up for a ticket were actually boycotting the film. Why did the fans do this? – Because they judged a trailer. Why did they judge the trailer? – Because it looked nothing like their childhood memories of Jem. As is the usual way of people with access to the Internet threats and other verbal attacks of, Jon M Chu, the director ensued. My heart broke for the people who made the Jem Film. They put so much heart into this sweet project. Oh! The irony of Jem fans behaving like Misfits! Do you see a pattern here?

    When Ghostbusters relaunched last year with a new cast line up I was so rapt. I watched the movie with my family, and we thought it was fantastic [serious re-watch value in this house]. And as is the usual way with so called Internet reviews they tried to trample this film before it even launched. Why? – Because the so-called traditional fans reviewed the trailer and accused filmmakers of ruining their childhood. Go back even further and we will find that people got riled up when they first learnt that the heroes of the film would in fact be heroines.

    With these three film examples there is a common thread. Full grown women and men who believe that their childhood [dating back thirty years] will be tarnished by a modern retelling of their favourite new age fairytales. I ask, why should anyone be so offended by artistic license on a remake?

    Growing up with Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, I heard the radio play, saw the telly series, read the book, and wouldn’t you know it, actually enjoyed the Hollywood film version. All versions of Hitchhiker's Guide are similar, and yet just a tad different to each other. Why is that? – I believe it’s because Douglas Adams understood that the story had to change with different storytelling formats. Also, what would be the point of retelling a story if it was exactly the same as before? Wouldn’t that just be boring? And in a case of people never being pleased, if movie reboots/remakes/alternative canons didn’t change, then the fans would still be complaining.

At the end of the day let's get a grip. These things are only books, games, films, pictures, works of art. They are not here to ruin your day/childhood/toileting experience. So please people, be kind to each other, and chill the f--k out.