Shock-O-Rama: Enjoying the Movies (can we please?) -


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Shock-O-Rama: Enjoying the Movies (can we please?)

Why the frak do movie nerds have agendas?

By Chuck Francisco     July 31, 2013

"So bad that it's good"
"Guilty Pleasure"
"Cult Classic" 

Humans love labeling things, boiling down the details until only a bleached Skeleton remains. Labeling allows us to convey complex ideas in a fraction of the time we should actually spend discussing a subject. This is true of politics, religion, and sports rivalries. Sadly, cinema doesn't get away unscathed. Drowning on the puss soaked vitriol, and tripping over the absurd hyperbole offered up by the unwashed masses populating the intent has eroded away our cultural tolerance. But we're geeks; we're nerds; we're maniacs. Certainly Mania's level of decorum is of a higher standard than other bile infested locales around the web, but we're all riding on the S.S. Cynic, and she's sinking into a cesspool of raging discontent. 

How did this come to pass? The same cult cinema obsessed fans who opine about the good old days of sleazy Crown International Pictures biker flicks now tear into the newest SyFy Saturday night special. This gnashing of teeth comes despite equivocal production values and a near identical target market. Has the Internet become our population's own Palpatine, churning hate stew into a never ending maelstrom of furious force lightning? 

From the John Q. Reality-show-viewer I could accept this (some folks are just dumber than a bag of hammers), but how is it that geeks have been tainted by this toxic nastiness? Has the ease of access to previously legendary cult cinema morphed us into a collective who takes too much for granted? Instant access to box office reports, meta-critical averages, and hurl-able fruit-o-meters have turned every plugged in plebeian into an irrefutable expert. We all became Otaku, as Patton Oswalt discussed in his brilliant 2010 piece for Wired entitled Wake up, Geek Culture. Time to die. I was initially angered by this piece, laying upon it an accusatory tone which I brought to the party myself. He's right though. We're all self proclaimed experts on everything and we never earned that right; we simply read the Cliff's Notes. 

Shifting our focus back to cinema, not every movie is an Academy Award Winning triumph of the human condition, nor should it all be. For every Argo I'm riveted by, there's a Sucker Punch which stimulates my audio-visual cortex without offering deeper meaning. No, I will not apologize for enjoying Sucker Punch; my point is precisely that we should never have to qualify our adoration of a film with an apology, especially when the movie in question falls under the pillow fort of nerdy cult pursuits. Nerds move to judge a film as binarily "good" or "bad" so quickly that it would snap Zod's neck (too soon?). Zack Carlson, programmer at the Alamo Drafthhouse (that hot bed of resurrected cult cinema gems), has posited that any film which succeeds in entertaining an audience is good regardless of the back handed complimentary label of "so bad that it's good". It has become nearly impossible to enjoy a film without qualification.

A quick glance at the IMDB message board of any film the week following its release (which I don't recommend to those possessing a weak constitution) showcases a roiling cauldron of hatred. Arguments explode like volcanic shafts, while weak trolls clutch the short and curlies of whichever argument serves their agenda. We're geeky movie fans- by Grabthar's Hammer, why the frak do we have agendas? My movie going agenda typically includes popcorn, a seat as close to the center as possible, and a willingness to be entertained. The ten year old in me was enraptured by Pacific Rim. Does the joy of that theater experience diminish proportionally in step with its box office results? What does the math formula for my loss of enjoyment look like? Is there an app to help me track the dip in enjoyment caused by how many other humans share my ticket purchasing decisions? 

Despite making light of it, the root of this entire warped dynamic is valuation. As humans, our ego is tied up into a mishmash of pursuits. Since our limited lifespans don't allow us the time to engage in every geeky activity, we naturally seek what is perceived to be the "best". Our fragile sense of self is bound to these decisions, turning any attack on that film we enjoy into an attack on us. Conversely, cutting down a movie which is being dog piled by anonymous Internet cowards adds perceived value to our favored motion pictures; by diminishing others, we assume a higher position among the nerd-archy ("You like Spice World, that piece of schtako? What a loser" - meanwhile dude watches My Little Pony).

Horror host Mr. Lobo of Cinema Insomnia would like you to consider that "they're not bad movies, just misunderstood". It's with the seed of this idea which I'd prefer to end today. Nearly no movie is one hundred percent terrible; and no, this is not a call to list ones you think are in the comments. When you don't enjoy a movie, articulate why, then recognize why someone else might like it. We're all nerds, Maniacs, and it's ok to like whatever you enjoy. Otherwise, what's the point? 

Chuck Francisco is a columnist and critic for Mania, writing Wednesday's Shock-O-Rama, the weekly look into classic cult, horror and sci-fi. He is a co-curator of several repertoire film series at the world famous  Colonial Theatre  in Phoenixville, PA. You can hear him drop nerd knowledge on weekly podcast You've Got Geek or think him a fool of a Took on Twitter.


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wrrlykam 7/31/2013 7:16:58 AM

It is the same for board game players, video game players and most online forums these days. So much vitriol against anyone you may have a slightly different view and woe betide you if you think the opposite. I really shouldn't bait these sort of Trolls on IMDB but I can't help it sometimes. It amazes me that some of these types just cannot cope with the idea of irony used in comments. Oh well it takes allsorts.

I want to enoy a movie or tv show and to have fun not worry about who I might offend by my enjoying it. Who wants to hear that Batman's left rubber nipple was missing in scene 43, and it hasruined some geek's  childhood memories as it wasn't in the comic. (The "George Lucas raped my childhood with the SE" comment on a forum comes to mind and he meant it.)

It is almost impossible for them not to influence you in some way about what you view. One rreason I tend to shy away from online fan reviews and stick to a few 'trusted' reviewers. And by 'trusted' I mean reviewers with similar views as myself and the oppsite views who I repect as being reasonable and not hate peddlers. Thanks Mania for the mostly balanced reviews published here.

monkeyfoot 7/31/2013 8:43:45 AM

Chuck ....EXCELLENT ARTICLE!!!!!!!!!

You have hit upon the one major peeve I have about current Geek culture and the Internet in general. In a phrase only sci-fi geeks will only understand: Monsters, Chuck. Monsters from the Id!

Like the 20 mile square Krell machine of Forbidden Planet, the internet allows individual minds to tap into a system that can never be turned off. At first when people added their opinions on a subject they left their name/email address. You spoke directly to the other person. But in the past 6 or 7 years the anonymous comments to articles have started. Now you are no one. Now you have no face. Being anonymous let out the secret devil of every soul on the planet all set free at once to loot and maim. And take revenge, Morbius, and kill! Things no one would ever say face to face with someone are let loose, connected to a machine that could never be shut off!

This isn't just in the genre web world of course. Look on any website on any subject of any kind and you will see this. If the internet actually could instantaneously project solid matter to any point on the planet all of humanity would also destroy itself in a single night.

redhairs99 7/31/2013 9:15:31 AM

It amazes me the level of hate some nerds (and Maniacs right here) can spew over these genre's we love.  I do love to discuss and sometimes argue over movies and such, but I'd never say "You can suck my nuts, M@#$%F'er because you don't like (Insert movie/comic/tv/etc title).

Chuck, I know you and I don't see eye to eye on certain flicks and others we do.  It's the discussion I love, but I try to not spew hate toward others who disagree.   I don't say "Why the heck do you like that movie, I think it's garage and you're an idiot for liking it." Why some people blast Nolan's Batman films, or think that Avatar is the greatest thing ever and anyone who disagrees is an idoit, I just don't get it.  If you don't like it that's fine, but don't bash people who do.

Regardless of Reviews, Box Office Numbers, or even Rotten Tomatoes scores (how did that even become a thing?), we should be able to express why we love a certain, film, tv or book without name calling and the like.  Heck most of my favorite films of all time we panned by critics and flopped at the box office.  Just because something has an RT score of 98%, a billion plus at the box office and is critically adored by the masses, does not mean it's the greatest film ever made.  Like everything else, it boils down to your own opinion of what you like or dislike.

We have a common ground here at Mania for the things we love and enjoy.  Unfortunately, some on here try to tear down others with personal attacks, insults and such because they don't think X, Y or Z is the best thing ever.

DarkXid 7/31/2013 2:15:37 PM

 Man, I hated Pacific Rimjob since I saw the first trailer.  I sat through it because my wife wanted to see it.  I utterly despised the movie.  It also did not help that it was way past my bedtime and I had to work in the morning. wife enjoyed it and many other people enjoyed it.  I for one do not tear into people because they like something vs something else.  Like anybody, I'll offer up an opinion, I'll defend that opinion, and I'll knock their opinion around a little, but I try not to let it get too personal -because heck your free to knock mine around a bit...and a good old fashioned ribbing is fun every now and again and if one can take it, most people agree that's okay.

The problem is a lot of people take their own opinion too seriously and their identities are tied up in those opinions and if you dare suggest something that is contrary to that opinion you are attacking them and dead wrong and a stupid freaking idiot for disagreeing with them.  Now I'm the type to turn around and return the favor, I will egg on an idiot on because there is a troll inside me waiting to get out and eat some goats or something.  But I'll do that with people I agree with too!

But, generally I stay out of arguements that have degenerated into name calling.  There is no place for viciousnous or name calling.  We all love something other people dislike.  

I hate, and I say HATE things like Glee, Grey's Anatomy, Dancing with anybody, American Idol, a ton of reality shows, and Twilight...ugh.  I consider those shows designed to dumb everyone down.  I also seriously disliked a lot of classic and pop culture sort of shows and movies.  Lost?  Blah.  Battlestar Galactica?  Couldn't do more than 3 episodes, I really didn't like it.  Citizen Kane?  Why is it a classic is lost on me.  Rocky Horror?  Someone said you have to watch it 100 times before you really enjoy it...I don't have that kind of time or inclination.  Don't even get me started on Avatar.

BUT...I'm okay if you  like watching them because what you enjoy watching, you enjoy watching them and I know a lot of great people who watch these shows/movies so I'm cool with people who like stupid things that I don't.  Because I recognize that I like some pretty stupid things myself.

Things like ID4, Soldier, Chobits, Ai Yori Aioshi, Star Wars Episodes I-III, Star Trek (almost all of it), Snow Fairy Sugar (honestly, you should probably have to register with the local sheriff's office for that one), Casablanca, Harvey, The Pest w/ John Lenguinzamo...I like it.  Judge Dredd with Stallone?  I dig it, to me it was fun, I could care less about the source material.

Honestly, people need to embrace their inner geek and love the crap out of what they love, we're different, that's why we're GEEKS.  Love it, Embrace it, Be GEEK!  

I like following the box office a little, but usually I want to know if I'm going to be seeing a sequel.  Dredd anyone?  It's a fun past time, but I don't love or hate things based upon it, and as far as popular opinion goes?  I loved Star Wars Episode 1 - popular opinion and popular geek opinion can lick my sack if they think that I suck because I like it.  

monkeyfoot 7/31/2013 5:29:25 PM

OK, I have one other major pet peeve about Geek Culture besides Id Monster nastiness. I don't like "My opinion is objective fact." attitude. I don't understand comments like "The Star Wars prequels/The Matrix sequels/the Transformers movies/X3/Spider-Man 3/TDKR/IM3/et cetera suck. Everybody knows it ."

I don't mind anybody having these opinions. It's their human right. I don't like when they say and even insist its an objective truth like the speed of light in a vacuum. It's just their opinion of an artistic endevour which will alawys be subjective. Don't rip into anyone who thinks differently. You aren't walking in their  shoes. 

Wiseguy 8/1/2013 5:35:55 AM

Nolan's Batman did suck and AVATAR is pure genius. Anyone that disagrees is a moron.

Yeah redhairs comment seemed a bit too close so I just want to affirm his point. Btw that's just my opinion but I get the opposite sentiment more times than when I throw it out.


And yes Chuck I too loved Sucker Punch but the mental elite around here are pretty quick to bash it.

I guess no one is innocent around here. So in the spirit of the topic at hand, everyone needs to just shut the hell up!!!



Unlike most around here though I will see pretty much anything "geek" and support it. I even had multiple viewings of TDK and BB, not TDKR. I saw Pacific Rim even though the trailers never won my affection. I put my money where my mouth is while many here just talk shit and a lot of times without even seeing never mind supporting the films and genre.

Wiseguy 8/1/2013 5:43:15 AM

Oh and unlike DarkXid I'll gladly exchange insults for days on end, as I've done before. I don't have gps and I don't know where the turn is for the high road :)

I don't mind the joking but this is the internet so you have to make it obvious how your statement is meant. What you may consider an innocent joke can come off as fighting words

monkeyfoot 8/1/2013 6:47:36 AM

                       I don't have gps and I don't know where the turn is for the high road :)

Wise, That really did make me laugh out loud! :-)

redhairs99 8/1/2013 7:57:57 AM

Wiseguy, I wasn't directly pointing at you in my comments.  I think there's plenty of Maniacs who hate Nolan's Batman and think Avatar is pure genius.  I disagree on both points, but I won't bash anyone who likes them.



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