Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Passion of Pre-Conceived Hate

Admit it. Go on, admit it. We all know it. We've known it for a while to be honest. It's OK. We've all done it. In fact some of us still do it. There's a few who actually really enjoy it. So no worries. You're among friends here. We accept you. (I would kill to know what all is running through your mind right about now)

It's that film isn't it? You know the one. The one that the second it's mentioned you instantly bring up feelings of hate and disgust. You remember, don't you? It's that movie you've never seen. That movie you never will see. But you somehow know in your heart of hearts that the movie will be crap, and you can't stand its existence. Why? Perhaps because it has an overwhelming fanbase full of people you don't like. Maybe everything from the trailer grates against the very fabric of your morals. Or maybe you're just in a groggy mood and it came along at the wrong time.

Either way, once in a while we need to vent and a certain film comes into our sights and we unleash all our wrath onto it. In my younger days, Passion of the Christ was a film which held this particular attribute. Perhaps it was the youthful heathen in me, but for the most part it was the incessant "watch this and then you'll believe" attitude of those around me (which of course set me up for major confusion when I saw Little Buddha some time later - am I supposed to worship Keanu Reeves?).

However years went by. The immediacy of that agitation went by the wayside, and I eventually watched the movie. And little to my surprise I came away rather indifferent on the whole. And since that time, some years ago, several other films have come and gone from the mantle of societal excommunication. The invisible realm of opinion where we reject the quality of something based solely on its relative fans. You know, the sort of vehement dissidence one reserves for the like of a Twilight film.

And yet, through it all I've come to one absolute in film criticism. You can't critique what you haven't seen. Many can try. Many have tried (myself included). But we all fail. Try as we might, it is not our place to judge one another by something as variable as taste. Because who knows what tomorrow will bring, and what affect that will have upon us. Honestly, we might even end up liking that Justin Bieber movie (*shivers*)...

12 better thoughts:

Yojimbo_5 said...

Yeah. It's amazing the notion of pre-conceived notions about films (would that be an immaculate conception?), whether out of ignorance (by which I mean not having seen it) or the Conventional Wisdom. I know that my impressions of movies are purely personal, so I never know how I'll react to any given movie. Sometimes I surprise myself. Speaking of TPOC, I started to watch it on DVD and got 1/2 an hour into it before turning it off. Then, the other day it was on a Christian station and I watched it start to finish, and found it a rigorous film and maybe Gibson's best (I haven't seen "Apocalypto"). Goes to show youw yourself...

The Mad Hatter said...

Ah, the neverending battle between what we want to diss and what we haven't seen.

I know what you're talking about, and can also relate to the fervour over something leading to antimosity. As the Canadian band Sloan once put it "It's not the band I hate / It's their fans".

Thing is, you're dead on in saying that you can't criticize what you don't see, which is why I usually just shrug off entities like Twilight, Bieber, et al with a polite "It's not for me"

In a small way, I'll have some fun with this during my King of Pain blog-a-thon in a few weeks since I'm forcing myself to endure what is usually "Not for me". Wonder how *that* will go?

Red said...

I'll admit I do it all the time. With so many movies coming out each year, listening to what you guys have to say on films, as well as having a general understanding of said film, often leads to me dissing a film without seeing it.

While I see where it's wrong, there's movies out there such as Norbit that automatically fall into "don't watch but bash every chance you get" category.

Lime(tte) said...

Actually, I've just seen Water for Elephants and was very pleasantly surprised. Seeing the first posters etc., I grew quite excited for the film, but then everyone was like "oh, no, Robert Pattinson... bla, bla", so I didn't want to see it. Sometimes, you need to go with your intuition.

I think it's also important to stand by the films you like, and not say Twilight is bad, if you like it.

Anonymous said...

I got in trouble with this fairly early on in my movie watching days, so I've long made it a policy to not talk about films I haven't seen. (Which is a massive part of why I despised Trailer Talk on the LAMBcast.)

Yes, I ended up hating Passion of the Christ as much as I thought I would, but the difference was I waited till I saw the film to express that feeling.

And speaking of that Beiber movie, I think I might actually watch that...more out of morbid curiosity than anything else. I actually hear it's a good movie.

Castor said...

Yea it happens all the time to me too. Generally, if everyone starts to rave about a movie in unison and I haven't seen it, I will tend to have that disposition ;)

Univarn said...

@Yojimbo The one go was enough for me. Not sure if I'd care to sit through it on a second go around.

@Mad I've come to start doing that - especially in the last few years - but I was really bad in my early days as a blogger.

@Red There's a difference between mocking a film you haven't seen, and criticizing a film you haven't seen. I mock things all the time, there's no real judgment passed on it. That being said, I did sit through Norbit and on some level I feel that entitles me to look down upon you. It's a survival issue.

@Lime My lack of desire to see that has nothing to do with Robert Pattinson and everything to do with non-existent enthusiasm. Looks more like a Sunday afternoon viewing on cable to me.

@cinemasights I think Trailer talk is fine if you judge only the trailer - however very few trailers are solid reflections of their cinematic counterpart.

@Castor I do notice that. There's this invisible line we all have, and it's different for each film - should the movie in question receive praise/hype crossing that line, we begrudge it instantly.

Simon said...

But what if your grandmother went to see the movie and then died? Can you hate it blindly then?

edgarchaput said...

@Simon: yes. yes you may.

As far as the topic of the article goes, I try my best to not get into negative hype for films. I used to when I was a bit younger. It always seems that when you're a little younger and maybe just a little more immature one tends to do such things a bit more. I'm more mellow these days. If I have ill thoughts towards a movie, it's because I've seen it and didn't like it.

Univarn said...

@Simon I would suppose in those circumstances, yes.

@Edgar Aye, I would say on the whole it's a youthful feeling, but I do know a few bloggers old enough that they should know better.

Fletch said...

I'm with Red and Castor.

You said, "There's a difference between mocking a film you haven't seen, and criticizing a film you haven't seen." Please draw that line for me, because I'm not sure where it lies.

And yeah, I think POTC4 looks like shit, too. That's what this post was all about, right? ;)

Univarn said...

@Fletch I mock Pirates of the Caribbean 4 for the amount of mascara present, but that doesn't make it a good or bad film - nor does it say anything about the quality of it. I can make fun of a movie and still enjoy the hell out of watching it (read Signs, Armageddon, Blade 2, heck even GBU). Sure you can blend the two, but I think they can be mutually exclusive in the right hands. Even still, if you make fun of something and having it seen it, you don't really know. Honestly, we can all say with 99.9% certainty we won't like Norbit, that latest rom-com movie, or whatever super obscure surreal french film that person is championing. But we'll never know. And knowledge and experience are the core requirement for any critique. Without those, I could just go ahead and write reviews now for every movie to be released this year.

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