Friday, August 8, 2014

I am really sick of being commanded to like things by the Nerd Hivemind

I can already see that Guardians of the Galaxy is going to go, for me, the same route as Pacific Rim:

World: Hype hype hype hype hype.
Me: ...What is everyone so excited about? I don't see what's particularly special about this.
*movie actually comes out, I see it*
World: OMG THAT WAS THE GREATEST THING EVAR!!!
Me: Eh, that was okay, not great.
Everyone I say that to: How dare you? Anyone who considers this less than the absolute pinnacle of human achievement is a horrible person!
Me: *sighs, enumerates the flaws I saw in it*
Them: But raccoon with a machinegun/giant robot punching kaiju!
Me: ...yes, and? I've been an anime fan for twenty years, neither of those even registers on the novelty-meter.
Them: [accusations regarding my character, statements that I "hate fun," etc.]

Repeat for several months, during which "okay, not great" steadily devolves into outright hatred.

Admittedly, Guardians of the Galaxy was WAY more entertaining than Pacific Rim, but it was still ultimately just another disposable popcorn movie that should have been about the female lead and instead shoehorned in a vastly less interesting Whitey McManpain to be the main character.

(No but seriously everything wrong with Guardians of the Galaxy would be fixed if Gamora were the main character and her journey the main focus, and Starlord reduced to comic-relief sidekick.)

9 comments:

  1. My reaction to the hivemind telling me what to do is just ignore it and form my own opinions. To use your examples Guardians was fun, but disposable, with nothing really interesting to say about the world, à la Captain America 2. Pacific Rim was novel, for Hollywood. Which means that the rest of the genre fiction production machine had already done it 40 years ago. And the original Gundam series is still a better story.

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    1. "Just ignore it" is quite possibly the least useful advice imaginable. If ignoring it were an option, why would I bring it up in the first place?

      That said, I *do* ignore the hivemind and form my own opinion. Then when I state that opinion, the hivemind starts attacking me. Then I defend my opinion, which has the effect over time of intensifying it, so I go from being indifferent to or disliking the hivemind-beloved work to actively hating it, because I can no longer think of it without remembering all the flaws I've had to enumerate over and over again.

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    2. Oh, and I really disagree that Captain America 2 had nothing interesting to say about the world--of all the MCU films, it has the MOST to say about the contemporary world. It is a 1940s liberal who believes in social justice looking at modern culture and finding us wanting. It's also a scathing critique of the symbiotic relationship between the global security apparatus and terrorism.

      Are you sure you're not thinking of Thor 2? That's the one I'd compare GotG to in terms of lack of engagement with the world.

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    3. Sorry, ambiguity on my part. It wold have been better to say "Nothing interesting to say about the world, unlike Captain America 2."

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  2. I have a friend I've known for 15 years, and it wasn't until this last year that I was finally able to identify and articulate why we have such different taste in movies. I care first and foremost about consistent, well-developed theme and character; he cares about novel plots, complex settings, and directorial craftsmanship. Accordingly, I thought Pacific Rim was great, and my friend was like "eh, not del Toro's best, let's get sushi". Oh well, people don't have to put the same values on things.

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    1. Interesting, because I think of myself as being interested in well-developed themes and characters more than the things your friend cares about, and I wasn't enthused by Pacific Rim at all. I found it to be nothing but empty visual spectacle (which is to say, plenty of directorial craftsmanship visible), devoid of any well-developed themes or characters.

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  3. I pretty much agree with you re: Gamora. GotG was fun and funny, but definitely the flimsiest of the MCU, and the gender issues were really jarring to me - totally took me out of the moment, right at the climax of the movie. Ah well.

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  4. For me, the appeal of seeing Rocket on the bigscreen wasn't so much just that he exists, and more the idea of seeing him played almost completely straight in a big-budget Hollywood spectacle flick in an ostensibly serious universe. I love it when the silliest and most bizarre elements of these stories are rendered with a straight face in a setting patently unused to them. Of course, this in itself is a major draw of anime for me.

    I thought the film did a good job balancing all five members of the main cast, and I like how it made it seem plausible that these five characters would wind up teaming up: not because of contrived plot coincidences, but because these five characters, despite their forced coldness and cynicism, are all really lonely and desperate for human (or inhuman, as it may be) connection. It's such a simple way of bringing characters together, but most spectacle flicks disregard it (or only have it as motivation for the female characters) because they fear it'd be too sappy/angsty and not badass enough. Star-Lord's macho affectations were, for once, deliberately portrayed as a shell, rather than an ideal for coolness.

    Gamora may not have been billed as the main character, but I thought her arc was still the emotional center of the story, and though I may be misremembering, I still thought the movie treated it with more gravitas than Star-Lord's overcompensatory moping.

    But to each their own.

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    1. I *did* like the way the characters came together, yes, and the way the machismo of both Starlord and Rocket was depicted as a defense mechanism.

      The person I saw the movie with felt the same way about Gamora that you do. I think what it comes down to is that Gamora is the main character of the *plot*--if you sit down and write a summary of the story, Gamora is the main character. But Starlord is the main character of the *movie*--it begins and ends with his emotional arc, shows all the beats of it while Gamora's is just implied--which is what I mean about feeling like Gamora *should* be the main character but isn't.

      To me, the telling thing is that the movie opens by establishing Starlord's origins, where if it had opened by establishing Gamora's, we would have gotten not only more characterization for her, but for Thanos, Bald Blue Amy, and maybe Ronan as well. Given that one of the other major flaws in the movie was how flat and unmemorable BBA and Ronan were--I can't even remember her name!--that would have been a pretty big improvement.

      But apparently the makers of the movie think "random white dude feeling dudepain at dying parent" is more interesting than "woman violently torn from her family, physically altered and trained to be a killer by their killer, plotting to break away and get revenge even while loyally serving." That's all kinds of sad.

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