Sunday, February 20, 2011

Welcome to the Fan Club

In a society where everything that occurred five minutes ago was old, everything that is occurring now is the greatest thing ever, and the things that will occur five minutes from now are to be the defining attributes of existence itself, it is easy to get lost in a sea of hype, frustration, anger, and above all: RAPID FANDOM.

Spreading quicker than rabies, and with just as much drool, fandom is a modern bane. It provides people easy access to self-absolution in their superiority.They are machines which by their own definition can alienate, dismiss, or downright insult anyone who fails to adhere to the strict guidelines that supply. The crux of it all being: their idealized deity is so without fault that anything they have done is amazing, anything they will do is going to be amazing, and if you don't accept those two aspects as indisputable fact then you are unworthy.

Now before any of you go "but but Uni, Kurosawa" I'd point you to the fact that I have given Kurosawa negative film reviews, I don't believe he is infallible, and I have several friends, blogging and in real life, who can't stand his films. But that's not a common thing. In fact, if I could easily openly insult them all, lambaste their lack of cinematic knowledge, and cast them aside in a series of violent outbursts. And you know what? I'd probably get thirty comments about how right I am to do so. And I would be so wrong it would move discourse to tears were it to possess human emotions.

But that's the way we are. You can become a fan of something on facebook, follow that thing on twitter, read fan dedicated websites, books, fanfictions, stories, news stories, get a google reader to only pick out positive news stories on that thing you love so well. Why? Because that thing just so happened to make several things you kind of enjoy. No wonder people don't know how to disagree on anything anymore. With a near infinite domain of knowledge at our disposal, we have found an amazing way of boxing ourselves in to extremes that even our grandfathers would be shocked by. All in the name of self-absolutism.

I like Christopher Nolan. I quite like Memento (in my top 100). I don't need a spare change of pants when I learn he's making a movie. I haven't flipped out because Johnny Depp made a cameo on MTV, nor do I believe Joseph Gordon-Levitt has the sun shine out of his ass because he's whimsical and likable. Tim Burton is fine, but he's done better than most of his recent work, and Daft Punk's score to Tron Legacy was fine. I don't hate any of these people. I just have the (socially dictated) unfortunate stance of enjoying them to an extent and that being the end of it.

To be honest, making great films (or in some cases marginally enjoyable ones) doesn't earn my love, respect, or admiration. It certainly doesn't earn my faith that you'll never make a bad one (in some cases I'd argue a few of you already have). Every great filmmaker in history has made bad films, it's just a part of life. So by what right should we bestow unto them such confidence? Isn't a blind belief that because of the troubles in the 'real' world, those we appreciate in the 'cinematic' world will never let us down?

Liking actors/actresses, writers/directors should be more than merely accepting their creations as gospel, it should be liking them for who they are and what they bring to the table. Odd Couple 2 is a film so bad I needed a heart transplant just to get through the first half, but that doesn't mean I don't enjoy Jack Lemmon or Walter Mathau. The gross simplification that one's ability to like someone is directly related to what they produce undermines the very aspect of liking someone. You don't found a romance solely on someone's ability to constantly produce good coffee. Sure it might be the reason you notice them, but that's a kickstart, sooner or later you've got to kick it into second gear and try and find out more.

Otherwise you're little more than a groupie in a sea of flailing fish, each trying to be heard, none saying anything different.

9 better thoughts:

Jason H. said...

Bravo! I agree with you - we do live in an age where we think of actors/directors/writers/what-have-you as gods, and it is ridiculous. I won't say I don't have my fandom moments, but I try to be as reasonable as possible. I love Christopher Nolan, but I'm not crazy about his debut film, Following. Darren Aronofsky, on the other hand, hasn't made a dud yet in my opinion, but I know he will eventually (perhaps his Wolverine sequel?). And as for actors, I think Daniel Day-Lewis is terrible in The Crucible. I agree, no one is infallible, and the groupthink of fandom is a major problem when it comes to criticism. Make your own opinions, people!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Well said! When it comes to worldly things, I am not a fanatic. No, not even for Kate Beckinsale. Or Firefly. Or the band Rush. Wait. Okay, maybe just a little...

MovieNut14 said...

I'm not like that either (fortunately). Well, maybe a little bit for Leo, but I keep my excitement at bay.

Univarn said...

@jason Thanks. The only scene I remember Daniel Day-Lewis in for that movie was the "This is My name!" - mainly because I can't get that stupid line out of my head.

@AlexJ Haha, we all have our vices but fandom should never be an all encompassing one.

@MovieNut14 I'm too reserved to outwardly show excitement for something, unless I'm doing so for comedic effect.

edgarchaput said...

I'm not so certain that we have 'found a way' to box ourselves from other opinions and facts with the advent of easily accessible information on a widespread scale. Rather, I'm amazed at how people can still 'remain' boxed up despite there being so much info at the click of a button.

Simon said...

I'm hardly ever like that with movies and live-action shows, but cartoons can do no wrong with me. Especially Teen Titans. Go Teen Titans.

In fact, for most things I love, I tend to be over-critical of them. Or at least, more aware of potentially douchey things they do. It's like my immune system has learned to repell the groupie-ism I was prone to before I turned 14.

Excellent writing, my good Univarn.

Ross McG said...

good points Uni. we're all different i guess. On the one hand I'm unfortunately quite a picky (ie narrow-minded) movie goer, meaning im probably missing out on a lot of great stuff. on the other hand, i dont tend to get swept up in all the excitement if someone whose work i really love doesnt something i consider below par.
the internet has a lot to do with it i guess, we can all think of recent releases that it was almost a crime to say you didnt like. which is a bit silly, really.
blogs and stuff are all about different opinions and having a bit of argument.
no one wants to read 'Great post! I totally agree with you 100 per cent!' in their comments section anyway. well.. i dont.
so expect me to be slagging off your next post soon Uni.... but yeah, this one was good.

Fletch said...

Wait a sec - there are still people claiming that everything Tim Burton has done is gold? I want to meet these people and run some scientific experiments on them. They're obviously anomalies.

Lemme guess - this all stemmed from Nolan/Dark Knight Rises fever?

Univarn said...

@edgar I would say that we have 'found a way' because we go out of our way to stay boxed in. I've seen people read articles that entire rebuke their stance on something in a manner that is rather irrefutable and they still respond "well, it's only my opinion." People keep separating opinion from science in certain aspects and they lose the difference.

@Simon I can by hyper-critical in that way as well. I try to approach the things I love with a hint of self-skepticism. Whenever I recommend Seven Samurai I always say "I love it, obviously, but you know, that doesn't mean you will." Not the greatest sales pitch.

@Ross I like a bit of median in my comments. More "I agree with X, disagree with Y, and am indifferent on Z" - to me that's beauty.

@Fletch Come to NC and I'll show you some :). On some small part Dark Knight Rises fever lead to this post, but I'm pretty good at avoiding that kind of hype. These posts tend to come from a series of observations over time.

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