I have a confession to make to all of you. I have failed to stay to true to my Mission Statement. Recently, when I had the opportunity to comment on a video of Olivia Munn practicing her katana routines for her upcoming performance of Psylocke, I had nothing nice to say. Beyond just being negative about it, I let my personal feelings for the actress herself taint my whole opinion of a performance I haven’t even seen yet. It doesn’t matter what I thought about her, what I know about her is very little and my negative opinion was based on hearsay.
Based on what little information about Olivia Munn I possess, I actually don’t have the right to have anything but a superficial opinion of her. Classifying the opinion as superficial, I am admitting that my opinion is completely without merit and I might as well not hold it in the first place. So, I’m abandoning the opinion. Here you have it. I am holding myself accountable for my own mistakes and grievances. Objectively, Olivia looks as much like the comic book character as I would have ever imagined and based on the video that inspired my negative comment, she’ll be able to pull off the performance physically, at the very least.
I have to thank a very good friend of mine for this change of heart. Kristin Kreuk was another recipient of my unnecessary ire and he routinely gave me a proper amount of shit for it. I hated her for years! If you’ll recall my “Heath Ledger can’t be the Joker” rant, I had a similar problem with Kristin’s casting in “Smallville.”
“Lana Lang!” I objected. “Lang isn’t an Asian surname, it’s Jewish! And she’s always been played by a redhead!!!” From that point on, I irrationally poured my ire and distaste upon every role she played. Fiona in “Euro Trip,” Tenar in “Earthsea” and then(!) they cast her as my first fictional crush, Chun-Li in “Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li.” I’m not sure I can articulate how much I hated her except that the only person I hated more in my life was my second ex-girlfriend who was absolutely vile to me. Nothing my friend would say could change my mind and while he gave me shit for my opinion, I routinely gave him shit for defending her.
Then a few weeks ago I convinced my wife to watch the pilot of “Chuck” with me as it was on my Netflix streaming list. Then, a couple episodes into Season 3 she shows up as a recurring guest star. I had no idea she was on this show and despite myself, I went into this performance with no preconcieved notions. She was delightful. Acting or not, her character was lovely and it was impossible not to like her. I must now go back and rewatch other performances, especially “Smallville” and “Street Fighter” and reevaluate. The first thing I did when I realized my error was to text my friend and inform him that I was wrong and I took back everything I ever said about her.
Not long after, pictures of Jared Leto on the set of “Suicide Squad” were released and once again the internet lost its mind. Promotional photos of Leto in makeup and covered in tattoos were released for Batman’s 75th Anniversary and there was an uproar. Hyperbolic fanboys insisted that the character was unrecognizable and held onto this opinion even after an official statement was released explaining his appearance in the photos was not representative of his appearance in the film. Fanboys were quick to compare the two in order to call Warner Brothers’ bluff and the negative comments continued to flow. Of course, you’ll remember my aforementioned rant which I was forced to retract two years later. I attempted to explain to everyone who wanted another performance like Ledger’s that his Joker fit the tone of Nolan’s films. A sillier or more clown-like version, like the one from “Batman: The Animated Series” which I wanted, wouldn’t have worked. For now, the only “tone” we have to compare the Suicide Squad movie to is “Man of Steel” because we know they exist in the same universe. Of course, no one knows what kind of contribution “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” is going to make to that world either.
Then this morning I heard an internet reviewer, MovieBob, unleash on the latest Adam Sandler vehicle from Happy Madison production, “Pixels.” The YouTube video is ten minutes of some of the most vitriolic and language-stretching metaphors I have ever heard. I’m sure I don’t need to point out that if it’s an Adam Sandler film there’s already a certain sense of humor and theme involved.
Here’s what I will point out. Beyond the obvious of angry internet trolls hating Adam Sandler because he’s Adam Sandler being in the minority, Happy Madison films make money because plenty of people want to see what he and his regular players will do to make them laugh. Call it lowest common denominator if you want to, but what angry fanboys tend to forget is that the majority of the planet would qualify. Now, before anyone takes offense to that, let me explain. Fanboys, geeks, nerds and the like spend more time thinking about this stuff than 99% of the world. The 99% can be entertained by things fanboys hate because they’re not overthinking it, over-analyzing it, comparing it to the source material, and so forth. When someone asks the question, “How could anyone like that?” the answer is, “Because they have no preconceived notions and therefore can enjoy, or not enjoy, at their leisure because they’re objective.”
This is where people tend to get offended because shorthand for that is, “They don’t know what they like.”It doesn’t mean, “They have no taste.” It doesn’t mean, “They’re an idiot who doesn’t understand.” It means, “They haven’t spent hours, upon days, upon years obsessing over it, therefore they aren’t going into their experience with their mind made up.” Do they like it or don’t they? They won’t know until they’ve seen it.
Something else the reviewer doesn’t expand upon, though he clearly has the knowledge to do so, is that the film is based on a book. I don’t need to remind anyone what that means, first of all. Secondly, anyone who read the book and was following production of the movie shouldn’t have been surprised by the final product when Happy Madison was the production company. If you read the book and didn’t follow the production of the movie and were disappointed to learn that the adaptation wasn’t going to be faithful to the book, then this movie wasn’t for you anyway. That sounds very disappointing in itself: the movie based on a book you enjoyed wasn’t for you, but it’s the truth because Happy Madison films are made for that much larger, much less informed group of people that outnumber us all.
I get MovieBob’s anger, I really do. I’ve been there. “Lost World: Jurassic Park” shares very little in common with the novel it’s based on. I was very disappointed because not only was my favorite scene in the book not in the film, at thirty minutes in the film deviates so much from the book that nothing onscreen comes from the book at all. Not to mention that “Jurassic Park III” and “Jurassic World” weren’t based on books at all. [Ed. I must also apologize for never releasing a review for “Jurassic World.” Accountability!] I firmly believe that if MovieBob knew the film was a poor adaptation of a book he needed to articulate that. He has a responsibility to do this if he’s going to be so confident in his anger to release a video review as passionate as that. He needs to make it known somehow, by footnote or asterisk or something, that his opinion is based on that knowledge. He does at least do the proper things for a movie reviewer to do which is specify things about the film that he thought were poor, except that was less than thirty seconds of the video, with the rest of it focusing on how colorfully insulting he could be.
Obviously, who am I to critique someone who has 800,000+ views on YouTube, which doesn’t even count the number of people who heard his review via morning radio like I did. My biggest blog post didn’t reach 100 people, but what kind of FanMan would I be if I didn’t make it a point to be accountable to myself and at least try to hold others accountable to themselves. So I’ll close by reiterating: It is ok to be wrong sometimes! I’ll also add, anger and hate and other extreme emotions are certainly normal things to feel when you experience disappointment, but if you’re going to share those emotions with the world with extreme statements, you better be prepared to defend them. I’m not doubting that MovieBob is willing to defend his position. I am wondering how many views of his video are people laughing at him, and not with him, which completely negates his intent to convince people not to see the movie.