The stupid argument that will not die

shakespeareMan, I thought I had made peace with this thing. Today I came across this comment on collider.com that’s the purest version of the “what kind of an asshole has basic competency standards for movies? it supposed to go BANG!!!” argument I’ve seen in a while:

LOL @ all the people expecting Transformers to be art house Oscar caliber films. And I really don’t think those twins were racist caricatures. They were just stupid. I also don’t think anybody really hates Michael Bay. It’s just trendy to say that you don’t. Films are escapism, folks, did you all forget that? Michael Bay does what does best: makes escapism movies, and makes them well. If you like “real-life” so much, stay out of the theater and go watch History Channel, and stop being pretentious film-scholar-wannabe’s.

And as you can see if you follow the link I couldn’t help myself, I had to go off on the poor guy. It just infuriated me for some reason. This is not a burden I should try to shoulder. People will always say stupid shit like this, I can’t patrol the internet trying to set them straight. I gotta let it go. Or we need to come up with a way to rebut it that’s as succint as “what u expect, shakespeare lol.” The shortest I can come up with is “okay, you take ‘Batman and Robin’, I’ll take ‘Dark Knight.'”

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179 Responses to “The stupid argument that will not die”

  1. Batman and Robin v The Dark Knight sounds like a pretty great argument to me.
    Keep fighting the fight dude.

  2. ironically, wasn’t Billy Shakes considered shit by the critics at the time?

  3. The rebuttal that I’ve been using lately is along the lines of, “If it’s wrong to judge these movies by any kind of standards, how do you figure out which ones you like? Do you go by budget? Running time?”

  4. By height.

  5. Then, Transformers should be his least favorite movie. Shia LaBeouf is like 5’9″.

  6. Please continue linking to your various internet smackdowns sir.

  7. That one almost reads like a parody post each line is so so cliche of that kind of argument.

  8. Y’know what Vern? It may be an unwinnable argument, but it’s an argument worth having and fighting over. There are clearly filmatists that give a shit enough to work hard to make great movies that push the medium forward, and as film fans we owe it to them to support their work both monetarily and in discussions with dumbasses like that guy.

    The phrase is “Strive for Excellence” not “Accept Whatever and Say Thank You For It.” Stay that course.

  9. Am I the only one who finds it weird that Vern cared enough for an article about Megan Fox and Transformers 3, to even read the comments on it?

    (Just kidding man, You know I’m on your side, despite being one of the people who enjoyed both Transformers movies.)

  10. Jareth Cutestory

    May 22nd, 2010 at 6:02 am

    New book idea for you, Vern: “VERNacular: A Guide to Eruditely Kicking Ass on Internet Forums.” Dedicated to Cyrus, may he rest in peace.

    Also, the fact that your comment on collider.com was promptly followed by a detailed discussion on the qualities of Meagan Fox’s ass is too depressing to contemplate.

  11. Great Unwashed

    May 22nd, 2010 at 6:10 am

    I don’t expect Shakespeare, but damn it, I do expect Robocop. ALWAYS.

  12. Man, I was going to post about how Megan Fox’s ass is the modern day equivalent of TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA, but now Jareth has got me feeling all self-conscious.

  13. Jareth Cutestory

    May 22nd, 2010 at 6:58 am

    Jake: Consider it a massive failure of imagination on my part. One day I’m sure a missionary from the Church of Fox’s Ass will help me see the error of my ways.

    Great Unwashed: I saw a guy on the street the other day wearing a t-shirt that said: WHAT WOULD ROBOCOP DO? The letters on the shirt were printed in bold. People were stepping aside to let the guy pass.

  14. AsimovLives can be overbearing (an understatement yes) here at times, but you know he did have an excellent point sometime back on another thread about this very topic.

    Ole Shakes may now come off as stuffy (and let’s admit it, we can blame way too many art colleges and “serious” acting schools for that stereotype) but for his time, Shakespeare was the Steven Spielberg of Tudor England. If Spielberg help revive the action/adventure serials of the 1930s (or reinvented them for the 80s, your call) and make visiting aliens want to hide in your closet or make believable “real” dinosaurs and so on…Shakes gave us a hell lot of words for the English tongue. Like eyeballs. I mean come on, imagine a world without “eyeballs.”

    He yielded an incredible range from drama to romance to tragedy to history and all that shit which entertained the royalty and the bath-free peasants. Not saying I think every play of his is equally great and worth your time (or praise) because while I dig MACBETH and JULIUS CAESAR and what not, some of his shit like ROMEO & JULIET…sorry, I don’t see the “aww romance” dimension that others* have.

    Hell RICHARD III, I almost consider it the first Gangster Movie. I mean the whole plot is an unashamed son of a bitch winking to the audience and stroking his own ego, telling (and executing) of how he’ll set everyone against each other, assassination here and there, and boom become King of this empire. Except as soon as he takes the throne, it all goes downhill. And he dies in a grand ridiculous(ly awesome) finale. Just like every other Gangster Movie. Shakespeare’s SCARFACE.

    Remember in the 70s/80s when many dismissed a STAR WARS or JAWS with major awards because they were “well-crafted entertainments,” a very backhanded compliment? Now they’re apparently the “Shakespeare” since asshole defenders of TRANSFORMERS and/or Michael Bay seem to recoil whenever good popcorn is brought up to shame those shallow overbudgeted pieces of shit with a woefully lack of imagination. Or any sort of attempt at one.

    And for that matter, look at HURT LOCKER and hell, UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: REGENERATION. Both made for the price probably of Michael Bay’s RV on TRANSFORMERS 2. Yet both kickass in the action department, and definately more bruised buttocks than Optimus Prime and his crew. Shit HURT LOCKER won the Oscar. Sure called a “war drama,” but its a fucking action movie. GLADIATOR is an action movie too, but its a “historical drama” because action movies aren’t allowed to win the Oscar.

    *=That said, in spite of a shallow story, I must admit Baz Luhrman did make that shallowness work in his glossy hyperbole movie version. Back when one had a reason to give a shit what Baz did.

  15. Jareth Cutestory

    May 22nd, 2010 at 7:30 am

    RRA: I think Luhrman really missed the boat by not calling his film: MY SO-CALLED SHAKESPEARE.

    I like your SCARFACE comparison. S’blood, motherfuckers.

  16. Kevin Holsinger

    May 22nd, 2010 at 7:59 am

    Good morning Vern and all,

    Short version of Vern’s argument, “I can refuse to drink urine without insisting it be champagne.”

  17. hey RRA, on the subject of Richard III, it’s well known that Billy Shakes was the original gangsta

  18. Great Unwashed

    May 22nd, 2010 at 9:10 am

    And he liked a good dick joke now and then, as well.

  19. The problem here is not so much that people will watch any old slop that’s thrown in their eyes. It’s that they don’t have any rhetorical skills. The people who use the “LOL its not supposed 2 b sheakspeare ur a snob” argument actually enjoy the movies they’re defending. They just don’t know any other way to argue their case than to tear down the opposing side with weak straw man arguments.

    I blame the current political climate, in which nobody wants to discuss the issues, because then they might be proven wrong by someone with more information. It’s easier (and sadly, more effective) to launch a smear campaign against your opponent and hope that your bucket of shit is deeper than his.

    In other words, America has now become one big talkback.

    Me, I like the TRANSFORMERS movies, and I’ll tell you why: They make me laugh. The combination of overblown special effects mayhem and wacky sitcom hijinks amuses me. I also enjoy the insane intricacy (some might say “incomprehensibility”) of the robot scenes. They seem to alienate most people, but their very inscrutability just makes me want to stare at them harder.

    But hey, that’s just my opinion, and I can defend it without resorting to tearing down yours. I must be a communist or something.

  20. When I was 13 my cousin invited my parents and I to see a movie while on a family visit. That movie was Armageddon.

    I think that was the point of no return for me. Walking out of that film I remember thinking it was like a belligerent drunk at the town fair, a bully yelling unintelligible crap in my ear for two hours and expecting me to laugh at his jokes and cheer for his stories and then yelling louder when I didn’t respond as he liked. I was just a kid, and the tiny town I lived in didn’t have any video stores with art movies or anything like that, but it was clear as day to me that I didn’t want to waste any more of my life on that kind of ”entertainment”.

  21. I think you’re right, Majestyk. I think it just gets to me because I feel like it’s disrespecting movies. If he was talking about a movie I liked it would almost be more offensive. And the whole “escapism” part is just depressing. He makes it sound like the average American life is just pure shit and you pay money to be momentarily distracted from how miserable you are. I don’t understand why these people think it makes sense to say that a movie can’t do anything more than that. Like, even having a dick joke would be more than what he’s asking for.

  22. I’m going to parrot Majestyk. Most of the filmgoing public are gibbering babies who will eat anything they’re fed. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, as viewers we react emotionally to movies, and then we choose our analytical reasons for loving or hating those movies afterwards. Some of us are better at critical reasoning than others, but even the most intellectually thorough critic is probably still jumping off from their original emotional reaction. The twerps who make the “it’s not supposed to be Shakespeare” argument in most cases genuinely like whatever they’re defending, they just have no idea how to speak or write intelligently in its defense. And might not defend it anymore if they really had to think about it in order to do so. But these guys are relatively harmless. The real threat are the above the line decision makers on properties like TRANSFORMERS, whose official “it’s not supposed to be Shakespeare, idiots” policies do a lot more damage. They could work harder and give us a product with a story to match its spectacle, but they’re already successful so there’s not much incentive. It’s like asking McDonald’s to cook you a gourmet meal. But we of the refined palettes are not asking for something pretentious and fancy, as the McDonald’s and the Michael Bays of the world assume. We don’t want a dab of escargot on a cracker. No, we’re pointing backwards a few decades and saying hey, remember when a burger was made with top sirloin, and fries were cut from fresh potatoes? Remember when JAWS and STAR WARS had compelling stories and characters to match their spectacle?

    Love RRA’s breakdown of Shakespeare’s populist appeal, by the way. Maybe our answer to this old chestnut should be “why yes, I do expect Shakespeare.”

  23. I agree that the argument is total crap. It shows an utter lack of critical thought. I used to be a writing tutor, and at least once a day, I would get a student who was completely unable to formulate a simple cause-and-effect idea. Even something as simple as “Why did you like it?” would just get a bored shrug and an “I dunno.” It was very disheartening. It indicated a monstrous lack of curiosity about the world around them. In other words, it’s perfectly okay to like TRANSFORMERS, Steven Seagal, or Jean-Luc Goddard, but failure to examine what about the material appeals to you indicates that you are a stranger to yourself, with an inner life consisting of little more than a never-ending quest to fulfill the immediate and instinctive needs of ego and survival.

  24. Oh yeah, and CJ I have to admit that I read the Collider post because I’m actually kind of interested to find out what the story is on Megan Fox leaving that movie. Not like I give a shit about gossip, but if she really did quit she’d become more interesting to me. I’m always impressed when people turn down big piles of money. And I’m not sure I buy the conventional wisdom that the best thing for her career is to continue being terrible in terrible movies. If she got less money for something where the director worked with her more to improve her performance she might actually get to keep doing movies for a while. She wasn’t bad in Jennifer’s Body, for example.

    Not that I expect her to turn into Angelina Jolie. She reminds me more of Pamela Anderson.

  25. Man, she looked creepy in JENNIFER’S BODY. Her face looked like a special effect in the scene in the kitchen (best scene in the movie, in my opinion).

  26. I’m going to agree with Majestyk, but in a different way: most people have a few specific interests, and for most of those people, that interest isn’t movies. Calling the filmgoing public “gibbering babies” reeks of a rather unpleasant (and, in my opinion, unjustified) form of elitism though. I 100% agree with Vern about “that guy”, as he seems to be known around here; but on that same forum there was exactly one person who overtly agreed with him. The others all either ignored or disagreed with him. So don’t make him representative of the entire movie-going public. Most people don’t have the time or the patience to research what they want to watch beforehand. They go to the movies on a whim, with groups of friends on a Saturday night, and see whatever’s been most hyped; and unfortunately for them, that will occasionally turn out to be something like “Transformers”. Just because they don’t apply serious thought to their movies beforehand though, doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re incapable of it. Maybe they just apply it to different things (to take an example that I came across earlier today, a soccer fan who could tell you nearly every player of every team in the Premier League).

    I do have a question for Vern though: what happens to the one lonely guy who believes “Batman and Robin” is better than “The Dark Knight”? I think the fact that there are actually coat-hanger fetishists** out there pretty much demonstrates that no matter how ostensibly bizarre an opinion is, you can probably find someone on the Internet who agrees with it.

    (**I saw it in an article about internet censorship. Clean up your filthy minds!)

  27. It’s hard to judge her by JENNIFER’S BODY because the movie was lousy. She spoke Diablo Cody dialogue and didn’t make me want to punch her in the face, so at least there’s that. JONAH HEX also looks pretty bad in my opinion. She needs to do a Woody Allen movie or something so we can see how she performs without millions of dollars in play.

  28. And yes, I know it wasn’t Majestyk who said the “gibbering babies” bit. Sorry, shoulda made that clear.

  29. Jareth Cutestory

    May 22nd, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    Majestyk: I think part of the problem is that North American school systems have been obscenely underfunded for decades. Teachers have been underpaid, curricula has focussed more on issues of self esteem than knowledge or practical skills, and various social groups have been far too influential in instilling a climate of fear (ie. the whole Darwin debate, sex education). As you said, if we can’t expect your average North American school to produce a functionally literate citizen, what hope is there that the same person will be media literate?

    If you look at the expectations a guy like Emerson or Thoreau had for the American education system, it’s enough to break your heart.

  30. I’m an unpleasant elitist, guilty as charged. If you want my footnote for the gibbering babies claim I refer you to any 1000+ post AICN talkback. Or the box office. The reason the standards of quality for blockbusters and wide releases is so low these days is people will pay for almost anything the studios will release. I mean literally they are now just buying titles the public will recognize and making any old piece of shit with them.

  31. Picture a baby with num nums being slopped into its gob by a parent who would rather be golfing and you have my mental image of the type of movie executive that makes TRANSFORMERS and the type of movie viewer who comes home and writes something like that Collider post.

  32. Gwai Lo – Another argument I despise is when people go around and say “well, what did you expect from a TRANSFORMERS movie?”

    Blaming the origins is bullshit cowardice. THE GODFATHER novel was, as Mario Puzo admitted, a trashy pulp book churned out quickly to make money after his first few critically-praised books flopped. Nevermind that infamous subplot about a love story involving vagina surgery or whatever crazy shit. Yet FFC saw something in all that clutter, and adapted it into maybe the greatest American movie ever made. Fuck him for trying harder than the material.

    Or IRON MAN, a comic book I liked as a kid not because of characterization (his Rogue’s Gallery was rubbish. Sorry but its true) but because hey I liked a guy flying around in an armor suit blowing stuff up. Fuck Jon Favreau and Downey for making a summer blockbuster where people enjoyed following this charming douchebag hero and cast chemistry more than the saving-the-world FX, and injected some anti-Dubya America politics into what otherwise should be a dumb toy ad.

    Or for that matter, ROM the Space Knight. Originally a bust 70s STAR WARS-cash in robot toy, Marvel got a licensed comic book deal and that Bill Mantlo fellow turned it into like T2 where the “soulless” cyborg indeed develops human emotions as he saves the Earth from those infiltrating Dire Wraiths. Along with a surprisingly melancholic attitude and epic multi-year saga with definitive start and finish that felt like it was planned that way from the start, two which you don’t usually get from a Marvel superhero title.

    Also same author was behind MICRONAUTS. Fuck him for making compelling adventure fantasy out of toys.

  33. Jareth Cutestory – I think the same way for Thomas Jefferson and all those other Founding Fathers. They, especially Jefferson and those Federalist Papers by Hamilton/Jay/Madison, all argued that Democracy wasn’t a failed kooky Greek experiment. No a republic manned by mob rule wasn’t inevitable, for if a terrific education system was there then you would have smart knowledged folks casting the right responsible choices at the ballot box.

    Well with the Tea Parties basically ruling the GOP with slogans and anger instead of good constructive policy ideas…

    Yeah sorry Tom, didn’t work.

  34. Gwai Lo – Yeah JONAH HEX really looks disapointing. Sure the comic book character faced some crazy comic booky shit here and there like aliens, time travel, and steampunk fun. But he himself wasn’t silly with WILD WILD WEST-type armory nonsense. No he was more like an Eastwood/Wayne classic archetype badass western lawman who just yields a nasty facial mutilation and kicks ass.

    Then again, what does one expect from a Akiva Goldsmith production*?

    *=Remember BATMAN: TAS? That one episode featuring Hex really summed up his appeal back in the day for me. That 80s inspired run where he gets sent to a MAD MAX-type apocalyptic future and deploys his Wild West justice was inspired fun.

  35. In my opinion the goal should always be making the best creative product out of the material at hand. Granted, it’s harder these days because more and more studio movie slots are being occupied by VIEWFINDER: THE MOTION PICTURE and BATTLESHIP and A NIGHTMARE ON PLATINUM DUNES STREET and CHOCOLATE MILK: THE MOVIE and whatever. Filmmakers want to work and taking a paycheck on a turd could be tempting, but you really have to be an alchemist to turn to turn a game or a brand into something with creative substance. Spielberg, Lucas and FFC were still mainly focused on that creative substance when they made JAWS, STAR WARS, and THE GODFATHER. The potential for huge financial returns was there, but you couldn’t accuse those guys at that time of placing commercial viability ahead of their artistic goals. But now that the studios have finely tuned equations for replicating the success of JAWS, STAR WARS and THE GODFATHER without the creative substance part even being a requisite factor, movies can still pull off all-time high earnings or at least record breaking weekends, even when they’re lousy. Sure, they might have squeezed an extra 100 million out of TRANSFORMERS if they had patiently developed the script for years and subjected Bay to the type of creative adversity that generates great art. More people would add the movie to their DVD collection. But maybe not, the public seems perfectly satisfied with what they’re getting, so why strive for excellence? People like McDonalds and Top 40 pop and Twilight books and TRANSFORMERS. Our culture celebrates easily digestible spume.

  36. Gwai Lo – If history is any indication, something will soon come that will to quote BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA, shake the pillars of the heavens.

    Who in 1991 would expect that the hair metal rockers would get swept aside brutally and without pity by some guys from Seattle?

    I mean who in 1966, Hollywood still making bloated Broadway-adapted musicals in the same fashion since the 30s/40s, could expect something like EASY RIDER a year later? Or be a sci-fi nerd in 1976 and you never heard of STAR WARS?

    Or for that matter, be into “rock” music in 1963 with this shitty situation: overabundance of nice guy bland boy teen idols, Elvis went to the Army and afterwards now pumping out mediocre music without much enthusiasm, “The day the music died,” Jerry Lee Lewis fucking the wrong cousin at the wrong time, and Pat goddamn Boone?

    A year later, the story is completely different.

  37. RRA- And that shaker of Heaven will be called: Inception.

  38. It’s true. And then whatever that thing may be, that seems so fresh at the time, will be aped and imitated and commodified until something else needs to come along and shatter the mold. It’s the way of the world I guess.

    I think we’re heading in the direction of everyman digital filmmaking anyway. There have already been waves of this of course, and the slightly pre-digital 90s wave of guys like Rodriguez, Tarantino and Soderbergh (or movies like THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT) kind of proved how much can be done with very little. But now that literally anyone can go out and get a Canon 5D or rent a Red camera, the tools of the pros are now firmly in the entry level hands of consumers. It’s still very difficult to make a movie without professional resources, but with the implements of filmmaking now so readily available I think we’ll see a continuing decline in studio movies and a continuing rise in independent movies that achieve their popularity through democratic approval. And really the only way to do that is to strive for excellence, creatively. I’m not even arguing that these democratically popular independent movies will be all that commercially successful, one look at the buying market for indies at film festivals in recent years proves that studios are much warier of picking quality cheapies than they were in the 90s indie heyday. But I definitely thing there’s a paradigm shift coming down the pipe. The studios can’t plunge much further into creative bankruptcy, and while they will continue to try to herd people into the theater with gimmicks and fads, the business model is looking relatively unstable these days. Great stories can be told without budgets in the hundreds of millions, and while I do think huge bombastic spectacle has its place in the landscape, it’s hard to justify the cost of your average blockbuster in relation to the final product.

  39. Man I’ve been typo’ing up a storm today. I’m writing like a gibbering baby.

  40. To kick it back to something Paul said, I think it’s true that the vast majority of people don’t really give that much of a fuck about movies. They’re just something to do on the weekend. And I respect that. Honestly, sometimes I wish I cared less about movies than I do. It might give me the time, energy, or inclination to do something more productive. But somebody who takes the time to post some bullshit like that on a movie website is not one of those people. This is someone who values movies. He just doesn’t respect them.

  41. Paul – to answer your question:

    I honestly don’t mean to judge the hypothetical guy who likes BATMAN AND ROBIN better than DARK KNIGHT. At least he didn’t choose something mediocre and bland. But since DARK KNIGHT is widely loved and BATMAN AND ROBIN is pretty much universally hated it seems like pretty good shorthand. If you really believe movies are just escapism and that anyone who wants TRANSFORMERS to live up to a standard of some kind is an elitist then you shouldn’t have to pick and choose between two Batman movies. Only a pretentious wannabe film scholar should even be able to tell that there’s a difference.

  42. Vern – I don’t think that ANYONE who wants a film to live up to a standard of some sort is an elitist. Someone who believes a majority of people are “babies” because they don’t share his particular hobby (and maybe I’m judging Gwai harshly here, but that was my initial impression of his post) on the other hand… yep, that’ll do it.

    As you know, I completely agree with you on your opinion of “Transformers”, except with the minor caveat that it isn’t Bay’s worst picture (“Bad Boys 2”, for me, is even worse). I also agree with the idea of even popcorn movies having standards. And yes, I agree that your commentator is an ass with no critical judgement, integrity, or soul.

  43. Like I said, I am an elitist and a snob. A Nietzschean Ubermensch if you will. And I often dabble in misanthropy. Your initial impression is correct. One doesn’t have to be a pretentious dick like myself to demand a little bit of Shakespeare from his popcorn entertainment, however.

  44. Brendan – Why you and all these other nerds claim INCEPTION will do this? More than once I’ve seen you people make this great hype, but why?

    Sure its Chris Nolan. Alright I like his shit, but I would assume it be more like MINORITY REPORT or MATRIX in reusing a reliable formula just putting a new paint coat on the sucker.

    Because otherwise, I wonder if the TDK leftover hype is seeping into INCEPTION. If thats the cause, some real backlash could happen here.

  45. I had to come out of lurking to say that the best part of that idiot’s rant is the way he tells the “snobs” to go watch the History Channel. The History Channel: the channel that stopped being about history in order to show crappy-to-fairly-decent movies that are usually barely related in any way to things that most intelligent people would consider a study of history.

    And the “Richard III” comparison to “Scarface” makes me want to reread the it with Tony Montana’s voice in my head.

  46. The History Channel shows movies now? Hmm, you learn something new everyday.

  47. The massive blockbuster movies that get made are nowadays, partially a product of demographics research, that is they are shaped to be attractive for 18-24 year old guys, since they go to the movies most often. Bottom line, movies are a commercial product, and artistic integrity is secondary to a profit motive. As long as the story accommodates video game and toy tie-ins, it’s golden. But back to the demographic, this average target audience is for the most part, really into hot chicks, fart jokes, and manly men blowing up things real good. The relative immaturity of this target audience is why so many movies aim so low and suck so hard.

    I found some interesting stats regarding theatre attendance online. Icelandics average 5 theatre outings a year. This puts them at the TOP of the heap. Go Iceland! Go Iceland!



  48. There’s a history channel? Does… not… compute…

  49. I think that INCEPTION will shake things up because I think if any filmmaker will actually capture and dramatize the crazy sci-fi concepts and not sell out in favor of gunfights and a movie star’s ego, it’ll be Nolan. The guy has consistently been interesting and challenging and he’s now been given licence to indulge and express those instincts and fetishes using cutting-edge technology.

    It could be self-indulgent as hell. It could be an awesome, intelligent and exhilarating piece of grown-up filmmaking, like DARK KNIGHT.

    There isn’t any other movie coming out this year I’m more excited for.

  50. ANoniMouse – “Mah Kingdam fur ah whores! Mah Kingdam fur ah whores!” Does that help?

    But yeah History Channel has gone under what the rest of cable TV* has, which is abandon their original niche goal and just become a fucking generic-ass channel. What exactly is the difference between say BRAVO and TBS anyway? I mean besides those Tyler Perry sitcoms and What’s Her Face being paid to be a bitch to other models?

    I mean look, BRAVO back in the day was the arthouse channel. They showed Trauffaut and French New Wave, all that arty stuff. TBS used to be the Redneck network with WCW Wrestling, Braves baseball, endless repeats of ROADHOUSE and STONE COLD and SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION and BEASTMASTER, and MAMA’S HOUSE or FAMILY or whatever that bullshit was called.

    Now they both play LETHAL WEAPON 4 late at night. But I’ll give TBS this: They’re giving us Conan O’Brien this fall so that’s that.

    What does AXE MEN do with history? Better yet, why the Hitler Channel going on and on about 2012 and Bible doom prophecies and Nostradamus? I mean what bullshit. Hell BULLSHIT! should be rerun on that channel.

    Once upon a time, History Channel was basically like the Discovery Channel, kinda a working/middle class consumption of knowledge, but with gimmick being history. You learned some cool stuff, if maybe simplified for that range but so what? I mean it tried to be like IN SEARCH OF… 24/7, kinda like MTV originally was supposed to be the giddy feel-good, partytime glad-you’re-here-with-us attitude of A HARD DAY’S NIGHT. Back when they played music videos.

    Or to put it another way, the best thing I’ve seen on History Channel maybe in the last 5-10 years was that Terry Jones program MEDIEVAL LIVES, where he really shattered historical stereotypes of the Middle Ages, some which persist even with serious “experts.” Yet that fucker was a BBC import. That’s sad.

    *=TCM thankfully hasn’t pulled that card yet. Still no commercials, still uncut, still old movies that you don’t see on every other goddamn channel at around the same time.

  51. I don’t think you can claim The History channel has devolved to that state just yet. It’s getting to that point with their pointless reality shows and retarded conspiracy theory stuff that they run non-stop during the weekends but they still have good shit like the Universe and Modern Marvels that I watch when I want to learn something while I’m eating. In that way the channel is kind of like the TV version of the bottom of a Snapple cap. I haven’t ever seen them play any movies but if MTV can start doing it I don’t see why they couldn’t be next. Then they’ll be like the bottom of….idk….a Sprite cap.

  52. Jareth Cutestory

    May 22nd, 2010 at 6:18 pm

    RRA: Noam Chomsky likes to remind people that, not so long ago, illiterate American farmers, after a day at work in the fields, often used to hire people to read books to them in the evening. And these books weren’t junk: we’re talking Melville, Hawethorne, “Walden,” et cetera.

    Also, one hundred years ago, Americans had multiple newspapers to choose from, representing pretty much every political position you could hope to find. You have to think that they had a better grasp on an issue when they could see it from every side. Now we have, what, US Today and NBC, companies that own multiple media outlets, ie. book publishing companies, movie studios, record labels, nuclear reactors. Fuck. Not much chance this arrangement is going to sacrifice profit for critical engagement.

  53. Jareth – Not just all that, but Americans at that time were passionately more curious about politics. In the late 19th century, voting % in Presidential elections was in the 70s/80s. And the American media in the 2008 election was applauding the 55% we got for that “historic” election.

    In the Gilded Age when people were probably less independent of partisan balloting, the party bigger than the candidate, both parties holding their own conservative and liberal wings*, all that. We have this image that “democracy” was held at gunpoint by the Robber Barons, and to a degree I suppose that was true. Yet in spite of that popular image, the public voting record is contradictory.

    But also you had people who unless they were of the aristocratic elite and had financial resources, they had to teach themselves the knowledge if they wanted to become a lawyer or whatever. I mean look at Lincoln and Andrew Johnson, two U.S. Presidents who were in today’s terms be considered born as impoverished white trash yet instead of spurring education as an elitist liberal snottyness “non-Real American” nonsense, they embraced it. Lincoln particularly, he stayed a redneck perhaps in nature and certainly played up the part when needed on the stump, but he was very versed and well-informed.

    The fucker won a court case with an Almanac. I mean that’s PERRY MASON impressive shit right there.

    You’re also right about access to information, which is in great contrast with how the Internet is in itself a greater gateway of finding data and knowledge and human global interaction than anything like it before in human history. Now “politics” and “news” is sold as a product, more specifically ideological porno. Watching Olberman if you’re a NeoCon won’t change your mind, nor Beck if you’re a liberal. And goddamn those books written by those assholes are mindless blather.

    *=Which held until basically what, the 1960s?

  54. The Stone Killer

    May 22nd, 2010 at 8:56 pm

    That guys post is straight out of Idiocracy.

  55. RRA:
    A Dire Wraith mention makes you my new hero. Jonathon Hickman just brought them back in Fantastic Four btw. I reccomend anything written by him. He’s leaps and bounds over every other funny book writer.

  56. @AU_Armageddon

    haha, man that was really Funny :)

  57. why has nobody brought up the original Transformers animated movie? it had some great action, Optimus Prime’s death, the voices of Orson Wells and John Cleese (or one of the other Pythons), a kickass soundtrack… bought the DVD for my little brother and he loved it. it’s still fondly remembered today

    shows what happens when you apply a bit of craft to things
    and that’s it – it’s not about art. it’s about caring enough to make a good movie. cross your T’s, dot your I’s, make your action coherant and your characters decent… not hard stuff

  58. Christian B – having seen that movie some years back, its a toy commercial.

    That said, I must give those credit for effectively KILLING OFF ALL THE MAIN HEROES within the first 15-20 minutes (if memory serves me correct) that those kids going to see TRANSFORMERS had known rather well from the cartoon series. Including Optimus Prime in an agonizing lengthy death.

    Again the cynical explaination was that the producers were making way for new characters for the new series, thus new toys. Still I give them credit for going that far in such a fashion without being sterile or gentle. Kids got upset understandably, but hey I think its a good lesson to give them about death. Or about as good as one as such a picture can be I suppose.

    Of course same company I think also made the G.I. JOE movie, and they had to rework the ending where Duke survives despite direct impalement of the heart because parents were mad that their kids got upset. Or whatever nonsense.

    I think its funny that the TRANSFORMERS CARTOON MOVIE (my recommended title) featured Weird Al Yankovic’s “Dare to be Stupid,” yet when a revival series ran up some years back…..Weird Al voiced one of the new Transformers. OK not funny, but fascinating. I wonder if the original toon picture couldn’t get rights to Devo, so they got the best parody/knock-off which emulates the sound good enough?

  59. I couldn’t figure out if AU was being serious or not. I know he reads this site but I really can’t condone the use of the word faggot. It’s the same as calling a person a nigger. However, I can’t understand how Todd Phillips gets away with using the term faggot in two of his movies and I never hear anybody complain about it. Yet I see complaints about other instances of using the word.

    Also, about Bad Boys 2, I think that freeway chase is fucking awesome.

  60. Man, mebbe I can try address this faggot issue you yanks have. Look, words is words and only fun cos of the reaction they get – i mean, it’s fine for you guys to watch Vern and fine for Vern to patronise this moron brownCow as he does even calling him ‘bud’ which if Vern did it that way in my presence and cowCock was my good friend and we were all having a beer together, I would prolly crack Vern for being an uppity patronising cunt, or laugh and say punkCow was a faggot. 50/50. So condescension and patronisation is fine in US as long as you dun ever say call someone what they are such as a faggot or nigger – stupid though, I think mebbe you can go to town in US calling people stupid in round-a-bout ways, as long as you dun say it directly ya?

    In Australia there is stadium called E. S. “Nigger” Brown Stand cos Hagan was an abo with blonde hair and white skin and that was his nick. In US I imagine that would not be possible to name a sports stadium grand stand “Nigger”. My boss, two of my colleagues, two of my sisters, my mother (now post divorce etc) and two of my best friends and one fuckwit friend including the guy who was best man at my wedding are all faggots. I say they are faggots cos they choose same sex and i say this in a derogatory way cos i get to do that cos perhaps only in Australia… faggots is not yet the majority, so when you are more different you gotta cop the names. Wogs, Dykes, Slapheads, Geeks, Bogans, Collingwood supporters, whatever, this is how life is, everyone gotta cop shit and take it like a man, or like a lady-man as the case my be.

    Most of you at this site are seriously patronising motherfuckers, but you dun never call peeps faggots I give you all that. Now dun get me wrong, I can enjoy your high horsey rants, if I didn’t I wouldn’t enjoy reading the Vern reviews or the comments such as how pissy Vern gets when peeps dun articulate what they obviously mean to say. The comments here took some getting used to though as peeps in this community have the attitude of Vern, but not always that great wit and humour for expression, but I get that now so I let lots slide that used to piss me off. My more ignorant self I mean.

    There, I imagine clear as cum for all you fudge-packing, cocksmoking, fart knocking, ball cradling, poofter, pillow-biting, virgin-ass blood blister, slack-jawed faggots. Now as a vow of silence taken to your great US god Oprah, I vow to never say the word faggot again cos you cunts get so fucking goddam pissy about it. Fucking faggots. The end.

  61. BTW, is true to say I am completely hammered making the above post, but completely sobre when made the posts at the other site for my amusement. I was tryin to help cos as you can see by monsterCocks response, you dun win arguments going in half-assed, but then of course, you dun hardly ever win arguments in the short term regardless. Three weeks from now, monsterBeef will be arguing with his dentist saying that Michael Bay didn’t needa rip of Hamlet, but he coulda tried put together a story – like say Dark Knight vs Batman and Robin. Fucking meh.

  62. AU_Armageddon – I sorta made the point you make about the “patronising” attitude myself, although using very different language. Talking of which though, do I understand that as long as no offence is intended, it’s perfectly acceptable to call somebody a “faggot” or a “nigger” or whatever you like, you inbred mongrel** redneck moron-pandering steer-fucking pie-chomping son-of-a-mule (no offence intended)? Because if so, it eases my mind a lot.

    **Yeah, before any of you patronising jerks points it out, I’m perfectly aware that calling the same person an “inbred” and a “mongrel” is a complete contradiction. As Shakespeare once said, “Deal wit’ it.”

  63. Jareth Cutestory

    May 23rd, 2010 at 12:09 pm

    AU_Armageddon: You’re not one of those assholes who punches kangaroos, are you?

    How’s that for “dun say it directly ya”?

  64. Australians – the only group of people who actually aspire to be their stereotype

  65. I don’t know, I don’t think the Irish do much to combat theirs.

  66. I want to say that this was a pretty stupid post, but inspired a really interesting and intelligent discussion. For a while.

    thanks guys

  67. Having grown up in a shitty red neck community and being gay, I’ve grown tough skin to offensive words. But the way ‘faggot’ is used around here is usually in scary-life-threatening ways makes it hard to easily accept the funny in it. I hear the n-word used in the same way in these parts, and I can’t pretend to know how much it sucks to be called that. I like giving my friends shit too, but sometimes its hard to separate such things.

  68. Vern – I aim to bring out the best in people. What else can I say?

  69. like I said in the jaws review,
    I don’t think a truly good movie can be made that will satisfy transformers fans.
    maybe if you got rid of the alien robots that are millions of years old and happen to look like trucks and bikes, and made it about jack nicholson’s attempt to track down his daughter’s killer, played by david morse.
    dark knight was a great movie, but it still had a man in a funny bat suit.
    as for shakespeare, he wrote the silly brainless adventures of his time.
    star wars is silly.
    even superman is silly.
    they are fun though, but silly.
    even terminator is a retelling of the nativity, only with a killer robot from the future that looks like a skeleton.
    I’m not saying that you can’t make a better transformers movie – james cameron directing a movie about remote controlled humanoid mechs that have limited artificial intelligence, designed to infiltrate terrorist strongholds by blending in as the truck they brought a nuke in on, that then get shelved because of military budgets, and the top guys not wanting a machine that has the capacity to learn and think, they would prefer human minds that they can control. so these robots get shelved even though they are scheduled for a wargame exercise of capture the [nuke] football that very day.
    they are shut down and left in a hangar, until a janitor unplugs something or switches something on and all of a sudden there is an abrahms tank shooting at a red peterbuilt truck and the base is destroyed.
    maybe the tank gets a communication robot underling to tap into a sat grid and find a nuclear source nearby, thinking the wargame is still going.
    local delivery boy finds truck or yellow mini cooper, works out whats going on, gets help of local girl who knows more about computers than the boy, army is blindsided but tries to find guys who built the robots for darpa, some of them work on toys now, all are held as terrorists, eventually they find a way to stop the machines, but the machines have, uh, operated on themselves so they can no longer be remotely controlled, they fight, truck wins, tank is taken to be wiped, installs backup version of its current personality so when they switch him back on he comes back exactly the same, truck disappears into urban sprawl, setup for next one. would be cool, but
    still very silly, but to me at least a story about out of control technology aka wargames or even small soldiers is a bit better than million year old robots from outer space who look like vehicles from earth that they have never seen.
    however as ‘fans’ are wont to do, they [the fans] would be up in arms about the no alien ‘mythology’ the fact that the machines don’t start out as much other than ai templates and only get personality after etc.
    to satisfy ‘fans’ of say gi joe, to make them truly happy, you’d probably need men with no actual names in just whatever fluro shit they had on fighting a snake themed army that operates out of america, and nobody dies.
    so it really can’t be good to make it what the ‘fans’ want.
    remember there are still people who complain that christian bale is wearing black armour, they want him in grey spandex with a blue cape.
    I think commando rocks, but if you got rid of bennet or matrix or chenny or sully and made taken, I don’t think it would be as good.
    so yeah, transformers can’t be shakespeare.

  70. I agree. With everything.

  71. edc – I can’t argue with the idea that nerds are too fuckin picky. But I got none of that baggage on Transformables. Just as an American male I would still like to see a visually coherent movie where robots punch each other.

  72. CrustaceanHate

    May 23rd, 2010 at 8:49 pm

    It should be fairly obvious that AU is talking nonsense, but nevertheless I have to speak up on behalf of my beloved Australia and state that calling someone a “faggot” or a “nigger” as about as acceptable here as it is in the US (ie not at all).

  73. Yeah all true. Well about a quarter of Australian men (as in not the ones living in the city burbs you see on movies but the ones living absolutely everywhere else) wear blue singlets, stubbies and thongs (boots, flanny & blue jeans in winter) and will call you a faggot if you dun spit properly and pick you for a fight if you dun call them on it. Ocker is the label. It’s people like Eric Bana who are funny who desperately aspire to it, but aren’t really from it, so you guys watch Love the Beast and think he’s great and we watch it and know he’s a tool.

    Agree, the OT made for an interesting for a read though. Has had me thinking why exactly it is that The Core is a hands down more enjoyable film than Armageddon and 2012 despite that it is an inverse replica of Armageddon and the story, dialogue, and plot are not distinctly any better or less ridiculous than in 2012. I wondered if Transformers 2 had Aaron Eckhart, Tcheky Karyo, Delroy Lindo, Stanley Tucci and Bruce Greenwood (but kept Megan’s ass… or went with Hiliary Swank instead, whatever) would it not be transformed.. salvaged even if preserving all of the shitty flashiness that makes T2 dull to watch. Or is there more going on than just the presence of these actors that makes The Core the better movie.

  74. city boy

  75. Poor Australia. Each time they try to break some of those stereotypes in America, yet the ones that alot of times are the most famous over here are the ones who personify it. Paul Hogan, Crocidile Hunter, “Tie me Kangaroo Down Sport,” all that. Stereotypes make money.

    Exceptions exist that’ve tried to break that nonsense. AC/DC, Wolverine, mother fucking THE ROAD WARRIOR, and I was going to include Russell Crowe too but shit he’s brawdy short-tempered, fighting around the world reputation actually belongs in the first paragraph.

    What bullshit I don’t get is why Australia just won’t let go of the Union Jack from the flag and the Queen. I don’t get it. I mean hell that parody flag from THE SIMPSONS is more badass* and more unique than a cloth which looks like somebody made up a random flag while drunk, joining the Jack with a blue rag he just wiped his nose with.

    *=C’mon, big boot about ready to kick ass? Who wouldn’t dig seeing that fly at the U.N.?

  76. cos the stereotypes are true. you got 2 australias, cities & burbs which culterally are indistinguishable from USA, and the rest which is really not far from the stereotypes. funny thing is the suburbanites Australian majority are as far removed from Australia as any American so they view the stereotypes with the same eyes. I laugh when I hear an Australian suburbanite telling an American “how funny it is that all Americans think we have kangaroos everywhere when the the reality is we don’t” when the actual reality is that we have goddam kangaroos everywhere. I’m in the south end and work one job at a suburban uni located on the far outskirts of a city and even then the uni is crawling with kangaroos every night. International students shit themselves. But if you surveyed Australians, most living in burbs now, most would say kangaroos are just a stereotype. If we were to change the flag, a symbol for irony would be appropriate…

  77. Vern,
    as an Australian man I want to see that too, thats why I like robot jox.

  78. Vern’s comment about visual coherency is the key problem I have with the Transformer sequel. If monstercow is to beleived,
    we shouldn’t expect much out of a movie designed around a toy. However, if the movie’s main objective is to showcase
    a bunch of toys, then it fails. The whole point of toy transformers is that you have a physical toy which can
    change, logically and physically (ie, with your hands) between believable looking vehicle and robot. In the first
    movie, you could follow that transformation process but in the sequel it becomes a cgi cloud of random parts and the robots seem
    a lot larger than their vehicle alter-egos.

    I actually like Michael Bay movies – I even liked The Island. The guy knows how to stage action sequences.
    However he needs a firm hand to rein him in away from his excesses and Spielberg ain’t that guy.

  79. MikeOutWest: As a parent who has recently purchased a Transformers toy, I would say the movie’s incoherant action sequences mirror the overly-complex, cool-for-cool’s-sake mechanisms of the current batch of Transformers action figures. I know very few children and even fewer adults who can make those damn things tranform without breaking off a piece here or there. So there you have it: pointless, confusing action sequences to sell a pointless, confusing toy.

  80. Robot Jox was good, and Robocop still had some of the best robot action, but for human sized robot fighting excluding Terminator series, or freaky little spider ones like Runaway, my hands down favourite robot fighting movie remains Ice Pirates employing the coolest robot idea ever of most fights between the good guys and bad guys neccessarily revolving around who had the best engineer, fighting by proxy with all the robots having to fight hand-to-hand, repairing and sending them back into melee on the fly. A 10/10 gem for anyone unfortunate enough to have gone through life without seeing this puppy at least 50 times (trailer went with a comedy sell but it really is much more of a classic sci-fi/fantasy/adventure film than it is a comedy):


  81. ANoniMouse – I have to admit my hands-on memories of the toys are about 25 years old. I should have realsed the latest line of toys would need to emulate the over-complex nature of the screen versions.

  82. That was a good read lads and laddettes. Props to that Australian dude. That was some funny shit and some points were, well, on point. I think Micheal Bay is to blame. He really does bring out the worst in us. I did enjoy the first Transformers though but have chosen not to view the second after reading the views about it’s content. Dogs fucking, racial stereotypes and all the rest of it. I’m no snob, I mean I’ll watch when it plays on satellite TV but I think a responsibility comes into to it when your essentialy making a kids film which you know is going to make a pile of doe.

  83. It would be nice if there was a replacement word of greater or equal power to “Faggot” that would essentially mean “Weak, watered down, and snotty”. Because I would like to be able to use such a word without making gay people feel bad.

    Anyway, I think the problem with modern blockbuster movies isn’t that they’re vulgar and trashy. It’s really that they’re not vulgar and trashy enough…I don’t mean that in some kind bullshit Pauline Kael type way. What I mean is what really drags these movies down is all the hacky shit the film-makers do to give their final product the patina of ART, which usually amounts to a lot of boring crap like: half-assed post modernism (Bad Guy: “Are we not truly the same?” Hero: “I understand the essential truth of your statement, bad guy, but I’m still going to kill you.”), annoying out-of-place civics lessons, neurotic self-hating heroes, an extreme sense of guilt over socio-political reality, “strong” female characters (strong meaning asexual, bitchy and violent), “realistic” action scenes (i.e. the director watched Saving Private Ryan), over-complicated storytelling (too many characters, too many plot threads, mistaking, as some critic pointed out, mechanics for drama)…

    All of that shit combined makes me feel less like I’m attending a movie and more like I’m at didactic political speech, or reading some weak, snotty college kid’s term paper.

    Let me put it this way. If the people who made “Robin Hood” and “Clash of the Titans” had been honestly vulgar. If they had only wanted to make a lot of money by entertaining “the masses”, instead of trying to cram a shitload of phoney enlightment down their throats, those movies might not have been great, but they would have been a helluva lot easier to sit through.

  84. @ ws

    I think the word “ghey” is a perfect substitute for “faggot”, usurping the traditional term GAY to take the homosexual meaning out and leaving in the lame. My faggot-friends use it all the time.

    Calling people you don`t know faggot or gay is imo hurtfull, since the reciever of your verbal abuse doesn`t have a chance for putting your insults in context. Calling your friends faggot is acceptable, since they know you already value them. If a stranger calls me stupid, I get insulted, maybe hurt. If a friend calls me stupid, I know that person well enough to know that he is either taking the piss or thinks I have done something stupid but respects me enough to be frank.

    As for being conscending in those talkbacks, well, i love this site because of the focus on cinema instead of the fans. Hence the sometimes lofty discussions about ideas and perceptions of cinema instead of who raped who`s childhood etc. I don`t care if you think Transformers is a enjoyable, but I think it`s interesting “why” you find it enjoyable. (and that`s a rethorical “you”, btw.) As an inspiring filmmaker, it`s pure gold to get into the viewers noggins and figure out what works for an audience. Moviemaking is a craft well worth discussing.

    And Transformers can be Shakespeare. My favorite show/movie is a japanese cartoon called Neon Genesis Evangelion. It`s about teenagers piloting big fucking robots against aliens. It`s also the finest psychological dissection of disfunctional humans I have ever witnessed (on par with solaris, scenes from a marriage, persona and other pretensious movies without robots). It`s acquired taste and i fully understand those who doesn`t get it (connect with it). But as somebody who in a one way or another lived though the same circumstances as the maincharacter (minus robots and aliens), this animated scifi-show taught me things about myself, that not even years of psychotherapy could match. While blowing up shit real good!

  85. I personally prefer “gaytarded.” I think it’s the most sensitive and delicate way of putting it.

  86. Vern! Surely you realise that reasoned argument ain’t worth jack shit on those ‘forums’ !

    P.S. still laffing about the guy’s implication that you are some kinda artsy fartsy film snob !

  87. I do agree that we should expect more from these movies but when a movie is “directed by Michael Bay” then we should expect a “boom” movie with very little value. Was anyone really surprised that Transformers 2 was terrible?

  88. Anonimouse, you’re not wrong. My cousin had one of the new toys and to twist it and pull it and press it and turn the damn thing from a robot (with a weirdly small head) into a truck took me about ten damn minutes. And then I think I just got lucky. You’d need a virtual trail of breadcrumbs to get me to work out how to change it back. If I was a kid I’d give up on that shit thing in seconds. Never had that issue with old megatron or optimus prime. Or even the dinosaur ones (I’m sure I had one that was a triceratops called Slag)

  89. AU_Armageddon’s responses to monstercow and ixnayray made me laugh, and may have done more to discredit monstercow than all of Vern’s reasonable arguments put together. No offense.

    Also, I agree with the poster who requested that Vern link to future internet smackdowns. Good reading..

  90. By the way, that “hypothetical” guy who prefers Batman & Robin to Dark Knight is me. Now I’m not saying B&R is a “better” movie, or it’s anywhere as “good”, because it most certainly isn’t. But I’m usually more in the mood to watch B&R, probably in the same way most people on here would rather watch Out for Justice or Blade over Hotel Rwanda or Schindler’s List and not want to be called idiots or assholes. I don’t really expect anyone to understand, probably in the same way if someone told me they preferred KOTCS over Raiders, or Episode I over Empire, I’d probably think the same thing you guys are thinking about me now.

  91. neal2zod – I’m so sorry.

  92. You are a bold and courageous iconoclast, neal2. Although I don’t even like THE DARK KNIGHT, I’d still be more likely to rewatch it than B&R. But I applaud your preference for your own subjective experience over any so-called “objective” standard of quality.

  93. I’ve just gone back and revisited the thread, and once again my hope for humanity’s future is restored. Not only with the reams of Vern-supporters, but also with lines like THIS:

    “Uh oh, where in Hollywood can they find another bad actress with a nice ass? Impossible, I say.”

    I say forget MonsterCow and his supporters / detractors, the man who calls himself “Dogg” has just won the thread.

  94. neal2zod – it’s ok, I count “Hackers” and “Dude, where’s my car” among my favorite pieces of escapism. The great thing is to own it, and not to show any outward signs of the bitter shame that eats into your heart like a cancer.

  95. I think Navy Seals and Showdown in Little Tokyo are my unmentionables.

  96. I don’t see how you can be so dense to not get the Batmen analogy. It seemed pretty clear to me.

    The only disagreement I would have is that I find Batman and Robin campy and enjoy it for time to time. This is not the case with Transformers 1 or 2. But still, that being said, the analogy is pretty clear to me. The fact that the cow guy doesn’t get it tells me either: A. He truly is a complete retard. B. He’s being willfully ignorant so as not to lose an argument. or C. He’s fucking with you.

    In either case I would let it go. I understand how you feel about it (I’m a metal head who has to deal with people dismissing great musicians’ work as “noise”) but there’s some people that you simply can’t argue with. Unfortunately most of them have a computer and an internet connection.

  97. “There’s some people that you simply can’t argue with. Unfortunately most of them have a computer and an internet connection.”


  98. Thanks for the kind words of support, my friends. I stand by my claim that if Schumacher went back and tinkered w/ Batman & Robin George Lucas-style, and digitally added some “POW’s” when people got punched, changed some music and basically made it more overtly like the Adam West TV show, people might have cut it some slack. Perhaps having the same Gordon and Alfred made a mental link to the Burton movies, but I look at B&R as the campy Starsky & Hutch/Land of the Lost comedy bastardization of an old TV show that just happened to have a huge budget. Actually come to think of it, if they just replaced Clooney with Will Ferrell and O’Donnell with one of the Wilson Brothers or Paul Rudd I think alot of people would think B&R was the silly fun that it was.

  99. What’d I tell you guys? AU Armageddon: he’s an asshole.

  100. And yet calling Danny Trejo the modern Charles Bronson remains a stupid analogy in spite of that fact :P

  101. So, Au Armageddon, are you trying to troll the comments or something? I don’t get it.

  102. Nah, more like the Candyman or Beetlejuice than a troll. To be on the safe side, best avoid playing Jeepers Creepers style theme song when posting too, perhaps Joe Jackson’s Real Men.

  103. Shakespeare’s TROLL.

    Starring AU.

  104. Great Unwashed: I went through a sketchy area about 2 years ago where every I would assign every piece of trash i would watch that was just too unbearably horrible to have any reason to exist with my own version of GENIUS SATIRE.

    Too many drugs, I guess.

    Showgirls is still awesome though.

  105. I have a confession to make: I have never watched “Showgirls”. Not once. Not even on TV.

    I’ve never seen “Battlefield: Earth” either.

    Are they worth it? I mean, are they bad enough to be mind-blowingly awesome, or are they just mind-blowingly bad?

  106. SHOWGIRLS is worth seeing because there are about a million quotable lines (“It must be weird…not getting cum on you all the time.”), but BATTLEFIELD EARTH is actually kind of a nauseating experience. Everything looks damp and moldy, the camera makes you seasick from always being cockeyed like in the old Batman TV show, and the aliens look like they’ve got long, stringy boogers hanging out of their noses the whole time. It’s almost worth seeing for the part where the cavemen fly fighter jets, but as a student of bad movies, I have to say that despite its reputation, BE isn’t actually very good at being terrible.

  107. Vern, never gave up. If you truly love movies, as you do, then this IS a burden you and we all should try to shoulder.

    The way i see it, there are no free lunches. And if one calls oneself a movie fan, then we have the burden, the obligation to set right the bullshit. Bullshit of the type that that idiot you quoted above spews. We have to reply to those diiots. We have. Otherwise, this idiots think they won. And they will think they own the place. and they will think of themselves as representatives of what a movie fan should be like, what a movie fan should like, and what movies should be like.

    If we are true movie fans, we have to reply to this idiots. We have to expose their ignorance and stupidity, and we have to show why they are stupid. I know this type of confrontational attitude doesn’t sit well with many, but it’s about time movie fans stop being timid. If idiots shout laoude,r if we allow idiots to shout louder, they will represent the lot of us. They will became our representatives. Same way on the past you alowed neoc-con psycopaths be the represenative of the whole american people and alowed a barely literate ape govern your country, that George Dumbya Bushie idiot. This is the same thing. That idiot above that Vern quote, he is a representation of the same principle at work, about movie fandom.

    So, i aks, should this people get about inchallenged? I don’t think so. There are no free lunches. And idiots like that should learn that lesson. They cannot expect to wave about their idioticy without a price to pay.

    P.S: I can’t help but coent that Shakespeare’s plays were writen for the people. Which, most of the time back then, were illiterated. So, Shakespeare plays were populist low brow entertainment. But smartly made by a man who took his job seriously and who beleived that if you pay him, you ought to deliver the best product you can create. This means that modern hollywood blockbusters ARE SUPPOSED TO BE SHAKESPEARE. He is their spiritual father. So, again, the idiot’s argument is busted. A pure show of ignorance. And lordy, how i love to bust ignorant’s balls!

  108. AU_Armageddon, i read your post, i recognize the words as belonging to the english language, but hell if i can understand anything you wrote. Maybe it’s because i’m portuguese, and english is my second language, and there might be some nuances that are escaping my understanding. Or you are just a terrible writer. Or your thought process is terrible. Something like that. You make Wez from MAD MAX 2 look like a master of communication.

  109. MAD MAX 2 is, of course, that movie that in what the british call The Colonies (aka, USA) is known as THE ROAD WARRIOR.

  110. Many Aussies aspire to be racists and trolls, but they call trolling ‘taking the piss’ and view it as their duty to take down anyone who’s the least bit serious.
    A program that ran a blackface skit is still on the air
    but the healthcare is free and the coffee and booze are good

  111. Jareth Cutestory

    May 25th, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    Paul: If you’re some sort of dutch angle fetishist, BATTLEFIELD EARTH is the film for you.

    If you have any respect left for Kyle McLauchlin after SEX & THE CITY and DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES, SHOWGIRLS will put it to bed once and for all.

  112. Paul, SHOWGIRLS is worth the rent, and then some. The first viewing was pretty appalling, but once you’re resigned that it’s pure squalor in fancy clothes (or less), it’s aces. The tight script simultaneously tut-tuts everything while milking it all for a deep sleazy wallow, and Verhoeven pushes both attitudes and makes it eye-catching to boot. And yeah, it’s the most quotable thing outside of Casablanca and The Simpsons.

  113. I’ve always thought Showgirls is, in a weird way, a completely realistic portrait of life in America. Even the movie’s much-derided dialogue, which is very funny, sounds exactly like the kind of stuff strippers and porn stars say when they’re being interviewed by radio shock jocks (what makes it even more humorous and awesome is that Verhoeven directs the actors to deliver those lines like they’re in a 1950’s Douglas Sirk melodrama).

    It’s one of the few movies where “work” plays an important role; the characters are constantly going to or leaving their jobs, which is not something you see in movies very much but is how most of us live our lives.

    There’s a wonderful line Rob Zombie’s under-rated Halloween 2 (btw, the theatrical edition is much better) where Dr. Loomis says “Bad taste is the petrol that drives the American dream” and that’s what Showgirls is all about…I like that movie.

  114. Wow, guys, thanks for all the Showgirls recommendations. I’ll bear them in mind, should it ever come on TV.

  115. A TV edit would be cheating yourself. There’s less swill to drown in, and you’d get a breather during the ads (at least in America.)

  116. There is no way you should take the advice of anybody that says Halloween 2 is good.

  117. I like the theatrical version of Halloween 2. The director’s cut not so much. It’s not an entirely successful movie, but I enjoyed watching someone mess with a genre that has a very rigid, predictable structure, to try and push it in new directions. At times, it feels like the Sam Peckinpah of slasher films.

    I would never recommend Showgirls to anybody. I just think that movie, in its “badness” (maybe even because of it) says something more truthful about life in America than many supposedly good movies.

  118. SHOWGIRLS: “Everybody has AIDS and shit.”

    The thing is, WS actually hit the nail in the head. The movie is a deliberate critic and mockery of the type of people that populate the backstages of Las Vegas. Verhoeven and Joe Ezterhas interviewed hundreds of people, and the dialogues and the plot of the movie is based on real events they collected from those interviews. Small wonder, the end result is a portait of unsympathetic people at their most ugly set in a city that’s supposed to be glitz but is in fact butt ugly like hell. SHOWGIRLS is pratically like a documentary. Of course, most americans hated it. However, the movie got more acceptance in Europe, becaus,e i think, we have a more distance from the subject, and we can laugh at it. For some americans, however the movie might have cut too close to the bone to see the funny side, or ruins their image of Vas Vegas.

  119. Having only seen the director’s cut of Halloween 2, I can’t speak to the overall quality of the theatrical cut. But I will say that if the theatrical version lacks Brad Dourif’s grieving scene (which I hear it does) then there’s no way it can be better than the director’s cut. That was the heart of the movie for me. That scene just cut me to the bone. Here was a brutal slasher remake sequel that made me feel the impact of senseless violence, not just on the victims, but on those who are left behind. As a Halloween movie, sure, it’s a failure. But as a violent, trippy pyschodrama, I think it’s really underrated. It kind of stuck with me for a few days afterward.

  120. I`ve only seen Halloween 2 theatrical cut once and wasn`t impressed, but I useally have to see Rob Zombies movies twice before I fall in love with them. I saw Halloween 1 in the cinema and was bored to death, but when I saw Halloween directors cut, i frigging loved it.

    And Showgirls is great trash and great satire, just like Robocop and Starship Troopers. And it`s a comment on Hollywood. Says Verhoeven. Who also made Robocop as an american version of Jesus. Oh, and Flesh and Blood was about communism. That`s why they all wear red and rape each other. The man is a mad genius :-)

  121. I really love hearing the thoughts of the foreigners on this site (and there seem to be a ton) and I get a kind of elitist vibe from them in the same way they think Americans are when they come to their country. It’s really amazing how we’re all alike regardless of where we come from.

  122. lawrence,
    “Thank you Rhythm Nation”

  123. Lawrence, that’s mostly just Asimov. He can barely get through a post without telling us Americans about all of the things we just don’t get. He’s wasting his time though because his posts just look like a bunch of ampersands and asterixes to our ignorant eyes. Maybe if he limited his wisdom to 140 characters or less we’d be able to grasp it.

  124. Jareth Cutestory

    May 27th, 2010 at 7:16 am

    Mr. Majestyk: You know what stuck with me long after I first saw it? That Chicken Lady sketch from KIDS IN THE HALL where they show her childhood. I swear to god most horror movies don’t get under my skin the way that damn freaky ass Chicken Lady does.

  125. Mr. Majestyk – Asimov may spew alot of typing (hell I do too), but he’s Jim Cornette in that full of energy and attention-grabbing bombast, there are nuggets of nuanced points to be made. You just have to look for them.

    Besides, you sure you willing to put your record against his, mate? If so, then this can become as ugly as a Senate primary. And no one comes out the winner.

    HALLOWEEN 2 was OK, still Rob trying to exert his unique cinema tongue in a direct remake of a franchise. More free to do his thing since not as many people give a shit about the original HALLOWEEN 2, nor stuck having to remake in a weaker, condensed fashion a significant part of the plot like his first HALLOWEEN.

    But if you ask me, Rob needs to quit these remakes.

    Not necessarily because they’re good or bad (a mix of both in different fashions), but because he’s too handcuffed if you ask me. I mean DEVIL’S REJECTS was a remake basically of BONNIE & CLYDE which itself was inspired by those WB 1930s/40s gangster movies where you go along with the criminals even though they probably deserve their fates. Yet we cringe when they do meet them because they’re so compelling and entertaining.

    and of course CORPSES was a better TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE remake than the bullshit Platinum Dunes remake.

    Yet notice the obvious: Both weren’t direct remakes. Heavily inspired, ripping off? Sure duh. To put it another way, to use a music analogy, Rob is better off to make original songs with heavy influence in broad strokes than a cover. The cover, you’re stuck with the lyrics and sometimes the base and so forth.

    (and for the record, maybe Asimov has a point about the killins in H2. None of them were certainly fun. And quite frankly, without the fun creatively absurd kills, why the fuck would any of us bother with most slashers?)

  126. RRA: I would put my record of making gross generalizations about entire nationalities against Asimov’s. But other than that I have no beef with him. Just last week or the week before I was talking about how a sight like this where most people tend to be fairly agreeable needs an angry guy like him to shake things up. It keeps us honest.

    Hell, I even get along with AU these days. I realized that he was the Zodiac Motherfucker of this sight and became a fan.

  127. I know absolutely nothing about the business of Hollywood, but, it might be that remakes and sequels are the only movies Rob Zombie can get financed, which would suck because I absolutely agree that he’s better off doing original material.

    I think the fact that the kills weren’t fun in Halloween 2 is a major reason why people hate it so much. But, for me, that’s what made it interesting and more worthwhile than something like, say, the Scream movies.

    And speaking of expectations of fun: when I went to see Halloween 2 at a theater, there were tons of little kids there with their parents, so many that I thought I might have walked into a Pixar movie by mistake. I wonder what conversations they had after it was over (“Mommy, what’s a dick-licker?”).

  128. The fact that Halloween 2 isn’t fun is exactly what I like about it. It’s one of the only slasher movies I’ve ever seen that shows how much having an unstoppable murder machine in your life would suck, not just during the periodic killing sprees, but in the long term. It’s not something you would ever be able to get over, and I like that Zombie followed his conscious enough to make the aftermath of Part 1 as downbeat as it would be in something approaching real life. The movie seemed very human and believable to me, despite all the self-conscious dialogue and psychedelic spirit horses.

  129. *conscience* not *conscious*. I think I might have a problem with that word.

  130. Funny, I’ve never considered myself an “average American”. Perhaps because I’m neither average nor American…

    Apart from the Halloween remake, which I liked until the point twenty-five minutes or so in where it actually became a remake of Halloween instead of an effective thriller about a murderously fucked-up kid, the only Rob Zombie movie I’ve seen is “The Devil’s Rejects”, which I thought was unexpectedly great. Didn’t expect to enjoy it half as much as I did. But of course you’re right about it being basically a remake of “Bonnie and Clyde”, and I can’t think why I didn’t notice that before now. Possibly because Warren Beatty has very very little in common with the guy (can’t remember his name now) who starred in “Devil’s Rejects”.

    I find it hard to watch the basic “invincible killer” formula movies, because there’s really nothing in them for me. With the “Scream” films (and I will maintain to my grave that Scream 1 and 2 are better films than anything with the name “Halloween” on it) there’s at least an element of mystery, and that mystery is done better in the first two films than in anything else I can think of offhand. With Halloween and sequels, and the Friday the 13th sequels (I’ll leave the original Friday the 13th out of this because once the killer is revealed, it actually becomes a very good film) I just can’t think of a reason why I should care. It’s not about the characters – did a single one of the Halloween / Friday the 13th films have a likeable / believable character in it? Not any of them that I’ve seen (which includes every Halloween movie made, although I couldn’t finish “Resurrection”.) There’s no mystery. There’s a lot of tension that’s largely down to the cinematography, direction and soundtrack, especially in the first Halloween; but again, the fact that I don’t care about the characters really mitigates this.

    And look… since I seem to have got into “demolish an idol” mode, I may as well go all the way… you know what made “Scream” better than the film it was parodying? In “Scream” the kids, who are self-consciously in a movie, still act like teenagers. Not like bizarre 30-yr-old parodies of teenagers who go around saying “totally” in every other sentence. (And holy shit, that was annoying.) Seriously, going back to Scream (or in this case Scream 2)… the kid who destroys his chances with a girl by cutting her off to point out that the “Ewoks… they blew”. I swear I know that guy. And the girl who says “Hi”, realises how fake it sounds, and then adds: “No, I really mean that. Hi.” Again, I know that girl. Should we really be relying on the writer of the original first draft of “Cursed” to be giving us actual relatable characters, with dialogue that sounds like how people of that age really speak, in horror movies?

  131. Oh, and after that wall of text, a brief addenum: Majestyk, you were right the first time, it is “conscious”. Drunk posting again?

  132. Oh yeah, and Jason X was awesome. But that was a movie that spanned just about every genre except Horror. (Well, I didn’t see much chick-flick in there either…) I wouldn’t say its greatest strength was its characters, although they were probably less irritating than Halloween’s teenagers.

  133. No, I was right the second time. “Conscience” is a noun, (“an aptitude, faculty, intuition, or judgment of the intellect that distinguishes right from wrong”), “conscious” is an adjective (“perceiving, apprehending, or noticing with a degree of controlled thought or observation”).

  134. No such term as “self-conscience”. Just “self-conscious”. Trust me. I was once almost a doctor.

  135. You’re right, but I fucked up the line “followed his conscience,” not “self-conscious dialogue.”

    We have officially spent too much time talking about this.

  136. My one problem with Carpenter’s Halloween is that I think he occasionally over-uses that floating POV shot, other than that it’s pretty great.

  137. Majestyk:





  138. I don’t want to get into a debate about the quality of the Scream movies. I understand why people like them and they’re not horrible or anything (Also, it’s impossible to argue taste). But, I have to take issue with the idea that those kids are realistic in any way whatsoever. The kids in Scream are a total Hollywood fantasy creation- they are, as one of the writers at salon.com put it, Uber Teens: snide, stylishly dressed, super-articulate know-it-alls. As a teenager, I didn’t know anybody like that, and the people who were sort of like that were all assholes.

    And, fuck Randy and his stupid nerd bullshit. There’s a big difference between being a being a geek and being someone who acts kind of cunty about pop culture. One is a person with a genuine interest and passion for a subject. The other is shitty stand up comic who is, at heart, selling a hip version of informed consumerism. Dave and “Chainsaw” from Summer School would have handed Randy’s ass to him.

  139. The right price makes all the difference you can save money by buying department store brands but the reality is that t shirt is not going to be as durable and is likely to fall apart after one or two washes and it is least likely to fit you like it should.

  140. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by juliana_cunha, Soares Silva. Soares Silva said: Bom comentário sobre cinema comercial: "I don’t expect Shakespeare, but damn it, I do expect Robocop. ALWAYS." http://bit.ly/en7FxK […]

  141. I’ve been thinking about another argument that I think is equally dangerous to the “it’s not supposed to be Hamlet” one. It’s sort of a backhanded complement that goes, “That was good, but it’s not Citizen Kane.” As if it’s okay to have a good time with a certain movie, but you must acknowledge that it’s not as good as a “legitimate” classic.

    This is a way people (critics, talkbackers, general audiences too) have of refusing to give badass movies their due. If you agree that Citizen Kane is the greatest movie ever made (I don’t. I think in the subsequent 70 years other filmmakers have taken the medium further), then you couldn’t possibly give Universal Soldier: Regeneration the same credit.

    I was talking about Jackie Chan with someone and he had a problem with Operation Condor because the women weren’t well written, and with Who Am I because the mystery wasn’t a surprise (maybe his argument was “Well, it wasn’t Memento.) You know, I don’t think Operation Condor was supposed to be the feminist manifesto, and Who Am I was about different thrills too. Or, they’ll say a Fast and Furious movie is fun but the plot is silly. Well, dammit, the FUN of those movies is they have fun with formula plots.

    So I wonder what Vern and y’all think of this argument threatening badass cinema. I’m all for striving for excellence but I think if you expect all movies to achieve the same thing, that’s not excellence at all. It’s boring conformity. I like having badass aesthetics, Hong Kong aesthetics, surreal aesthetics, silly aesthetics and they can all be Citizen Kane to me.

  142. Mr. Majestyk – I’m super late to this party, but since you referenced ZMF I’m guessing you browse the AV Club?

  143. I read the AV Club all the time. I’m Mr. Majestyk there, too, but I don’t post very often. I learned long ago that my fondness for badassery did not jibe particularly well with all the bearded navelgazers. Besides, it’s hard to get a good discussion going there amidst all the snark and inside jokes, so I usually just pop in if I have a zinger to contribute.

  144. Fred,

    I think the “Well, it’s no ____, but I liked it” argument can be useful in some circumstances, as a way of managing expectations. You just have to make sure that you use appropriate comparison. I agree that saying something like “FAST FIVE is no CITIZEN KANE” is a pretty silly thing to tell someone. On the other hand, if you’re trying to convey that you really liked FAST FIVE but don’t want your friend to get their hopes up too high, it might be appropriate to say “but it’s no POINT BREAK.” Or whatever.

  145. Dan, the issue is movies that are totally awesome but people feel guilty about saying so. So they qualify it instead of coming out and saying, “Yeah, this is one of the all time greats and I’m not apologizing for it.” Not: The Dark Knight is the best comic book movie, by those standards. But rather: The Dark Knight is one of the all time great movies, period.

    And even that’s an easy one because people were willing to elevate it beyond its genre, but how about to say Jackass Number Two truly is an extraordinary movie. Not for a Jackass movie, but as a complete cinematic experience itself. Fast Five wasn’t my favorite, but I’d say that about Fast & Furious. Fast & Furious is a totally awesome movie, period. Not for a Fast/Furious movie, not only as long as you’re not expecting too much, but it just purely is awesome. Compared to Citizen Kane, it holds up.

    It’s the “guilty pleasure” thing which I always took issue with. But more so, I worry that there is becoming only one standard for excellence. Yes, Hamlet is excellent work. So is Die Hard, Raiders of the Lost Ark. But it would be a shame if more visceral experiences are not held in high regard because they choose to downplay plot and character. That’s a valid artistic choice too. Or if a movie emphasizes dialogue over cinematography. I want to see lots of different types of movies, not only linear structured carefully storyboarded ones, although I like those too.

  146. Hi everyone, long time listener, first time etc.

    Fred, I definitely agree that the “guilty pleasures” thing hurts the quality of discourse when talking about movies and people should have the courage of their convictions and all that, but I don’t think it’s the same thing as saying “it’s no _________”. In fact, Vern himself uses that line all the time to (as Dan said) manage expectations – even when he’s talking about badass movies. Like, for example, in his This Ain’t Avatar review (talking about the original Avatar I believe, not the porn version): “I forgot how exciting it was gonna be when it gets into the big battle and all the great badass villain moments and everything. It’s no ALIENS but it’s a fun movie and a unique spectacle” (https://outlawvern.com/2010/11/16/this-aint-avatar/).

    I mean, you have to consider the possibility that people aren’t saying that to diminish the genre, but because they genuinely don’t think it’s as good as the other movie they’re mentioning.

    My main problem with the “guilty pleasures” thing is that it’s generally used condescendingly – “ha ha, you gotta check this one out, it’s so stupid”. Everybody seems to be under the impression that nobody else likes Road House so they have to qualify it as a “bad” movie when they talk about it. But I think that’s a whole separate issue from “it’s no CITIZEN KANE”.

  147. FTopel, I strongly agree with your underlying argument against one standard of excellence for film aesthetics. It’s one of the reasons I like Michael Bay and Tony Scott a lot more than most people around here. I think there should be room for their over-the-top style and impressionistic editing in action cinema. Especially when they make movies as visually interesting as they do. I agree that most action films should probably use the classic style of clarity first, and I wish post-action wasn’t as prevalent (In fact, I’d probably be fine with just Bay, Scott, and Greengrass doing it since they are the only ones who seem to put their personal stamp on it), but I do think the idea that there is only one correct way to shoot action kind of limiting.

    I don’t necessarily agree that the “high culture”/”low culture” divide that you describe is really a threat to badass cinema though since that debate has been around forever and people still make plenty of great movies on both sides of the divide. For me the only real downside of the debate is running across annoying people who insist that one side or the other is inherently better.

  148. Thanks, guys. I’m definitely trying to distinguish between the guilty pleasure and the managing expectations. In the Avatar example, Vern was definitely NOT trying to say Avatar was the greatest of its kind, as long as you don’t expect Citizen Kane. I remember being in focus groups where the moderators kept asking why they only gave this movie a 9, what would make it a 10. The answer… “Well, it wasn’t Citizen Kane.” That irks me. If you fucking loved it, then fucking love it.

    I guess I say this as someone who has no problem publishing his unpopular opinions. I guess the people who get what I’m doing (like Dan with my Watchmen review) appreciate the non-qualifiers. I have mediocre movies I enjoy too. That warrants the qualifier, but not the awesome ones.

    And I’ll say it: Fast & Furious is better than Citizen Kane.

  149. Wait, let me go back and add one thing. If someone’s saying, “It’s not Citizen Kane,” they’re not just comparing one movie to another. They’re clearly referencing a commonly agreed upon high standard. No one would be qualifying a movie with the then-technically revolutionary tale of a newspaper editor just for some context. Besides being an outdated reference (Come on people, Pulp Fiction?), it’s generic. The subtext of course being that it’s not respectable to credit any movie lesser than Kane. Maybe The Godfather would be another one.

    Yes, Fast & Furious is also better than The Godfather. (There are some movies it’s not better than, but my point is I don’t need to qualify the greatness of a great movie for not being Citizen Kane.)

  150. I try to determine what each film tries to achieve and what it would like to be judged by.

    Citizen Kane clearly wants to be judged by its cinematography and its acting. Taking it on those criteria and it becomes a really great film. It totally sucks as a raunchy Porky’s styled comedy, though, but no one judges the film like that.

    I think comparisons to Citizen Kane and other films are comparisons to not just some ideal film but a film that is serious and is largely inaccessible to anyone that does not come from a certain level of privilege. I think more than judging a film based on its merit, especially the merit it wishes to be judged on, people judge a film based on social and economic class.

    I remember a few years ago I was going through and watching the Wire and buying each season. I went to the Best Buy to purchase season 3 and the guy who taking care of the transaction scoffed and asked if this show was that show on BET. No matter how good the show was, and I’d argue there is nothing better than the Wire, this guy judged it because it dealt with African Americans in an inner city and I think the subject matter dictated a certain level of socio-economic class with the show that made it appear less in the eyes of many.

    I think part of why Fast Five has been sneered at by many, and it takes 10 seconds on AICN to see the Talkbackers there to see it, is because it does deal with characters who have some color in their skin. I think that a lot of people initially judge a film, television show, or even music based on the actors and its content and as such a movie that features African Americans in any context will oftentimes be judged as being lesser in quality than a film dealing with rich white guys.

    Basically, I think it’s a two pronged problem where people don’t always judge a film based on its merits along with people bringing in outside baggage to film, assuming they are even willing to go see a movie that features characters that don’t look like them.

    For me a “guilty pleasure” is a film that I enjoy despite its faults and is a film I would have a hard time recommending because it just works for me for whatever reason. I own Navy Seals because I loved it as a kid and think it’s awesomely ridiculous but I’d never recommend it to anyone who has never seen it. My ability to enjoy that film comes despite the qualities of the film and I’d say it’s a “guilty pleasure” because of it.

    I think a lot of “guilty pleasures” are often otherwise good movies for people that they are embarrassed to openly enjoy because of perceived issues relating to its seriousness, race, or class. I think a lot of people would end up listing Undisputed 2 as a “guilty pleasure” because they would be embarrassed to explain to someone that they sincerely enjoyed a DTV (DTV sequels being seen as only appealing to poorer people) sequel dealing with international prison fighting. Hell, it’s a DTV sequel to a film that had both of its main characters be African American!

  151. Sorry Fred, you’re exactly right, I got caught up with the semantics for some reason and completely missed your point. It is frustrating when people mention CITIZEN KANE / THE GODFATHER / etc. as though there is only one “class” of movie that can acceptably be called great, and it’s not proper to give a movie your full support unless it fits into that crowd.

    I do think, though, that as unhelpful as comparing every movie to CITIZEN KANE is, it’s probably also a good idea to avoid taking it the other direction – I mean, if you can say, “THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS is better than CITIZEN KANE”, then it *should* be equally valid for somebody else to say “THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS is no CITIZEN KANE”.

  152. (No idea why I suddenly have a GYMKATA avatar but I have to say I approve)

  153. I guess I go to the other extreme to take the piss out of the conventional wisdom. Obviously isn’t not helpful to anyone to compare Fast and Furious favorably to a totally different movie. And I like Citizen Kane. Studied it in film school, find it far more engaging than you’d expect it to be, and I also think 70 years of filmatism has improved on it since.

    The guilty pleasure thing, I think if we truly understand what it means we can have guilty pleasures. I’d say Drive Angry is a guilty pleasure because it’s badly done, unknowingly morally reprehensible (as opposed to joyfully so) yet I enjoy how off the rails it goes. But I can that knowing that if Drive Angry had done it right, it would have been the best movie ever.

    Casey, the racial aspect is interesting. At least most professional critics respect The Wire too. I’m disappointed in Fast Five on its own merits, and actually it seems that most people are very receptive to it, and the whole racially mixed franchise.

    I guess Vern doesn’t think the Citizen Kane qualifier is a problem. Maybe I’m overreacting. My favorite movies are Labyrinth and Toy Story 2. I guess I’m guilty of “It’s no Labyrinth but I like it.” Or “Toy Story 3 is no Toy Story 2.”

  154. FTopel, I really need to see Drive Angry. It was one of those films I couldn’t find the time or people to go out and see it when it was in theatres. I’ll have to see it sometime soon now that it’s on DVD.

    Would it be fair to say that a guilty pleasure movie is one that you can enjoy despite the movie itself? I can think of a lot of films I enjoy even though there’s so much bad about them. I’m not talking about laughing at a movie but movies where you’re able to enjoy them despite everything the movie tries to do.

    I need to think about the implications of race, and to a lesser extent on class, in how it plays out in the perception of film. I know I’ve been a champion of The Wire for a long time but it’s sometimes a difficult sell because it does feature so many black characters and actors. Even Fast Five, I feel, has gotten what I perceive to be negative attitudes towards it because of the ethnically diverse cast. Nevermind all the dumb comments from people joking that they thought Vin Diesel and The Rock were the same person. Hell, Hollywood can’t even cast a black actor as a space viking god gatekeeper guy without certain segments of the internet yelling about it.

    To get back on topic a little bit I do think some points of comparison are helpful. If I see a science fiction action movie I usually end up comparing it to Starship Troopers or The Road Warrior. That’s not altogether fair but I don’t think it gets in the way of my enjoying a movie. Those two movies, for me at least, cast a pretty large shadow and I’m always annoyed when special effects from today don’t look nearly as good as Starship Troopers or action scenes aren’t executed as awesomely as The Road Warrior. Not that it’s easy to do or anything.

    I also think having points of comparison can really help someone examine why they liked a film or didn’t like a film. Someone totally new to films who does enjoy The Road Warrior, for instance, and then doesn’t enjoy Terminator: Salvation can examine what worked and what didn’t in relation to each other.

  155. Casey, I agree points of comparison are helpful and I use them a lot for context. It’s what we do here when we compare blockbsuters to Die Hard, Aliens and, well, Hamlet.

    I’m talking about a different phenomenon, where no one’s comparing, they’re just adding “by the way, just so you know, we’re not challenging the establishment that is Citizen Kane.” I guess it’s not as widespread a problem as I thought. People have all sorts of reasons for being dismissive, but by striving for excellence we can elevate the discussion.

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  157. Search and Find your friends…

    […]The stupid argument that will not die | The Life and Art of Vern[…]…

  158. It looks like I’m 11 years too late but here goes.

    Re: Gingersoll: “Armageddon” was a turning point for me too. Up until then I’d been fairly easy to please when it came to big-budget science fiction movies. If it was science-fiction and big-budget, I’d probably enjoy it. When I went to see “Armageddon” in the theatre that innocence was lost forever. It was loud and harsh and had an assholish attitude. Maybe it was just that I was getting older and had recently been fired from my favourite job and the world seemed like a darker place, but I thought I could trust the movies to be a relief from all that, and “Armageddon” let me down big-time. Some movie had to be the one to do it, I guess.

    Re: Vern & Paul & Neal: And then there’s “Batman & Robin,” which I can’t defend as being a smart or high-quality movie but which I saw in-theatre during a great time in my life (I finally had a good place to live, a car, and a full-time job I loved—the one I was later fired from, as mentioned in the previous paragraph). It was enjoyable schlock. Even now I’d enjoy watching it more than “The Dark Knight,” but that’s because most post-millennium movies don’t speak to me. The style of writing, acting, and general look-and-feel turns me off. Not necessarily the fault of “The Dark Knight” specifically.

    Re: RRA & Christian: What I would expect from a “Transformers” movie is something at least as good as the 1986 “Transformers” movie. It had gorgeous classical animation, used the original character designs, starred the original cast of the TV series plus some cool celebrities, and had a great soundtrack, both in heavy metal songs and the synthesizer-fuelled background music of Vince DiCola. There’s plenty of room for improvement—the movie is mostly set in space, far away from people and cities and culture and everything that makes for an interesting setting; a ton of great characters from the series get senselessly killed off to make room for the new toys; and the plot plagiarises shamelessly from “Star Wars.” It’s still a billion times better than the Michael Bay movies.

    Also, after 15 years of Michael Bay “Transformers” movies it’s easy to forget that there was a time when there hadn’t been a live-action “Transformers” yet and we were all excited to see what it would look like. That’s because we were assuming it would look like the original series, but photorealistic. Then we got what we got and it was appalling. The cheap computer animation in the “Generation 2” theme song and bumpers was better than that.

    I loved “Rom” comics too! Great characters and writing, and it’s my favourite of all of Steve Ditko’s artwork.

    “Transformers” (the original series and movie) was a toy commercial but it was a well-made toy commercial that put a lot more effort into writing and animation and acting than it had to…which is what this discussion started off talking about. They could have decided to be cheap and lazy, go for minimum quality to maximise profit, but they took the Shakespeare approach. Like all popular entertainment, there were times when it was considered disposable not something the audience was expected to analyse and watch over and over, so sometimes there were plot holes the writers didn’t bother to think about, and one writer and one actor have gone on record that it was just a job to them that meant nothing. But it still turned out well.

    Enough people in the process must have cared. Even if they only cared because they figured a high-quality toy commercial would sell more toys, the result was sheer greatness and is responsible for the huge impact it had on my generation, and is the reason there’s a demand for a franchise that can still rape my childhood 38 years later. The mid-1980s was the peak of TV animation. There were a dozen new shows in that five-year period that took the same approach as “Transformers” in writing for a more intelligent audience of kids and investing more heavily in the quality of the craft. We never got both those things at the same time ever again. Sometimes we got good, intelligent writing with the trade-off of simplified animation like in “Batman: The Animated Series.”

    “Citizen Kane” is my guilty pleasure. Just kidding. I’ve never been able to think of any guilty pleasures. I guess everyone code-switches to some extent; you can’t talk about liking Vanilla Ice when you’re with your heavy metal crowd. I try to articulate why I liked something even if it’s objectively not good overall or is widely disapproved of. There are movies where I know I’m going against popular and critical opinion, like “Superman IV: The Quest for Peace,” and if called upon to justify it, I’d just have to try to list the good qualities, while acknowledging the flaws. Maybe “shameful pleasure” is more accurate, but that sounds too severe. Whatever these two movies’ relative levels of quality in the court of public opinion might be, the things I like about “Superman IV” are completely absent from “Superman Returns.”

  159. I don’t know if I’d quite go all the way and call it the peak of TV animation, but I’m definitely something of an apologist for the era. At one point, around 20 years ago, they were perhaps over-mythologised, but now the default is just to dismiss them with just the words “toy commercial” which is unfair. The implication is because that was why it was made, there’s no way anyone could have possibly cared how it turned out. Can you honestly say you’ve never seen a Commercial that was artistically inspired? How about a poster? A music video? Is every job you’ve ever had “important”? I’m guessing not, but I bet you took pride in your work, or wanted to do a good job, or find a way to express yourself in your work anyway. Some of the writers who worked on these shows, at least in their memory, did have a condescending or dismissive attitude to the work, like Donald F. Glut, but if you read what people like Flint Dille*, Chirsty Marx, J. Michael Straczynski and Ron Friedman have to say about their time working on these shows, it’s clear they cared.

    Beyond that, so much of popular culture is at the base level made to sell something else. The entire medium of animation was advanced primarily as a “bonus” to lure people in to see expensive films. Television shows lived or died mainly on their usefulness to advertisers, and now on their perceived ability to drive subscriptions. Comic strips were there to sell newspapers, Comic Books to get you to buy next week’s issue or maybe some other title by the same company, a tactic their big screen descendants have now picked up to wide approval and enthusiasm.

    Also, I think people forget or don’t know how bland American animation had been for the preceding 15-20 years. We didn’t go from FANTASIA and Bugs Bunny or even JOHNNY QUEST and Rocky and Bullwinkle to M*A*S*K* folks. The deep pockets of toy companies, coupled with the looser restrictions of syndication, allowed for a notable bump in quality. It would have been good if the medium had an initial resurgence primarily driven by artistic inspiration rather than toy sales, but improvements are improvements.

    Am I biased toward this era because I grew up on a lot of these shows? Yes, I am, but I think I can honestly see some qualities when I try and separate myself from that. I know the excessive vapid nostalgia of the present is annoying, but “just telling it like it is, man” anti-nostalgia isn’t always the answer. I’m not saying you have to like any of this stuff, or even respect it, but sometimes when you dismiss things a certain way you dismiss more than you realise.

    The biggest issue with this era IMO was the standard production pipeline of the time. Needing to make 52-65 22 minute episodes in a season to fit syndication requirements had some inevitable consequences, particularly when you ship animation duties all over the world, which, aside from all the moral questions around that, lead to deeply inconsistent work which often didn’t have enough time for retakes or quality control checks.

    *Flint Dille’s book is a good read by the way, as is Rise and Fall of the 80s Toon Empire by Jason Waguespark

  160. Also, I too have a soft spot for QUEST FOR PEACE, partly because it was filmed in a certain UK town which is a bit of a punchline, which is kind of cruel and, from my brief time there, unjustified in my opinion, but still pretty funny that they used it as faux-New York. It’s a very earnest, good natured film, with some funny slapstick. It’s also short which is a nice change which is refreshing compared to both contemporary superhero films and from the earlier Donner/Lester films, which were obviously better but which I’m kind of over, honestly.

    It was funny though how before those deleted scenes were released back in 2006/07ish there was a bit of a proto-Snyder Cut/Donner Cut-adjacent movement who swore QUEST FOR PEACE would have been a masterpiece if they had shot the script with the agreed budget. Even stuff like Muriel Hemmingway breathing in space was waved away with “in the script it was the Sky, but it was cheaper to film it was space”, and then someone would note how in the script it specifically says that she and Nuclear Man are “in the vacuum of space”, and they would respond “errr…”

    I’m not as fond of SUPERMAN III these days but my only wish of the DCEU is that their newly appointed Grand Poobah make this song cannon

    They Won't Get Me

    Provided to YouTube by Rhino/Warner RecordsThey Won't Get Me · Roger MillerSuperman III - Original Soundtrack℗ 1983 Warner Records Inc.Auto-generated by YouT...

  161. Yeah, the 80s were far from being the peak of animation, but every once in a while you can find in those toyetic cartoons some sly cleverness. There is a reason why a bunch of people who either made it later big in the animation business or even outside of that. And as much as I enjoy the classic Hanna-Barbera stuff, I am unable to defend at least 98% of it on a level of quality.

  162. I have no doubt that filming Superman IV with a reasonable budget would have been an improvement. And maybe there were some script pages that got cut but the aborted Nuclear Man 1.0 is a wild thing.

    SIV has my favorite audio commentary ever with the screenwriter apologizing and assuring listeners that Chris Reeve made the movie with the best intentions.

  163. Pacman, it sounds like we’re on the same wavelength. That 1980s cartoons were being made for business reasons doesn’t mean they weren’t good quality. As RRA and Asimov mentioned above, Shakespeare wanted to make a profit too, but he also strove for greatness.

    Yes, Donald F. Glut is the writer I was thinking of who said he didn’t care about “Transformers.” Like you say, other writers did care, so Glut is an exception, not the rule. Funnily enough, even his scripts came out OK, so either he’s talented enough that his worst effort is still good, or the show had high expectations he had to meet, whether he liked it or not.

    You’re exactly right about the sudden increase in the quality of TV animation. It started with the G.I. Joe toy and comic ads that were the first fully-animated, realistically-drawn thing to hit TV in decades. Those ads blew everyone away and there was an immediate demand for a full series. Even when budgets started to get cut and shows like “Transformers” got sent to cheaper studios like AKOM who took shortcuts, the character designs were so strong that it still came out looking decent. Animation errors don’t bother me enough to spoil the viewing experience. But fundamentally-good drawing is a must, even if it doesn’t move around that much. (On his blog, John Kricfalusi espouses the exact opposite philosophy.)

    I’ll add those books to my want list along with Dan Gilvezan’s and Susan Blu’s books on voice acting!

    I knew “Superman IV” was filmed in England, but I didn’t know where exactly—looking it up, I see it was Milton Keynes. What I read somewhere is that the government incentivised Cannon financially to film there, so as to create jobs and a local industry and provide training.

    Also, here’s a Shakespeare connection—Sam Wanamaker donated his salary from acting in “Superman IV” towards the restoration of the Globe Theatre, his lifelong dream. Before he passed away in 1993, he succeeded in restoring the Globe, and “Superman IV” helped.

    The dumb moments in “Superman IV,” like there being air in space, are just something I’ve learned to accept, so I can enjoy the things I like about it. It’s just as well that the prototype Nuclear Man was cut, though; it was way too silly. It did manage to sneak its way into the DC comic-book adaptation of the movie.

    Hanna-Barbera did some solid things, like “Super Friends” and “Scooby Doo”—shows where artists like Alex Toth and Iwao Takamoto gave them well-designed model sheets that worked within the simplicity and efficiency which their limited animation style required—but which were still good-looking and somewhat realistic. (Again, Kricfalusi hates this. He even complains about the fact that fans of Toth and Takamoto exist.)

    In his book about “Batman” TAS, Bruce Timm talks about how, when he worked for “G.I. Joe,” they told him the art style he wanted to use was too flat and cartoony, but what he was aiming for was the Alex Toth approach of minimum lines, yet still dynamic and powerful.

    The thing is, though, that Toth, in his “Space Ghost” and “Super Friends” models, figured out how to eliminate all the extra lines but still keep it representational-looking somehow. Timm went one step further and got so abstract that his stuff only looked good when a high-quality animation studio was drawing it. When it was a cheaper studio like AKOM it fell apart. To his credit, he fired AKOM after one episode too many like that.

    Then he kept working to make his designs simpler and simpler, leading to the even-more-minimalist look of “The New Batman Adventures.” Some of these re-designs were great, like Scarecrow, Clayface, and the Ventriloquist. Others got too streamlined for their own good, and felt lifeless, like Batman, Catwoman, and Two-Face.

    Hanna-Barbera, Ruby-Spears, Filmation, and AKOM did good work when they had solid-constructed, semi-realistic model sheets to work from. Ruby-Spears’ “Superman” was quite well-drawn, and I like the HB-esque art of their “Turbo Teen” and “Rubik.” Filmation’s “Star Trek” is impressive for how closely they captured the likenesses of the original cast* while keeping the art simple enough to be drawn fast and cheap, as is their standard practice. As mentioned in another thread, I like the art in AKOM’s “RoboCop,” as well as other Marvel productions like the early-1980s “Spider-Man” and even the early-1990s “X-Men.” So, no gas face for HB, RS, Filmation, or AKOM! Or even Spümcø, for that matter, which gave us the Ripping Friends and Powdered Toast Man.

    *Impressive both in terms of drawing skill and that they were allowed to do it. For “The Real Ghostbusters,” DIC had to steer away from making the characters look like their film counterparts.

    Yes, IMHO the 1980s were the best. There will never be another thing that looks exactly like “G.I. Joe: The Movie.” Even if someone had the good taste and the industry clout to insist upon that art style, it would be too hard and expensive to animate it traditionally, and therefore it would be computer-animated, and it would have that weird modern computery look where the lines are too thin, and the colours are too washed-out, and there’s a shiny Photoshoppy mistiness over everything. And it would be 16×9, not 4×3. And you wouldn’t be able to own it on physical media. It would take an eccentric billionaire willing to pay for the whole thing out of pocket for it to be done right.

    Fortunately I’m not hung up on new versions of things being done right like I was in my 20s. In the present day I can watch all the 1980s things I want and be a lot more relaxed about new things being different. If someone likes “Transformers Animated,” well, that’s unfortunate, but I wish them good luck and hope the inevitable changing and rebooting of their favourite thing is kinder to them than it was to us.

  164. Re: Fred: The script for “Superman IV” came from the writing team of Lawrence Konner & Mark Rosenthal, who used the same method they used with Leonard Nimoy on one of the “Star Trek” movies: they interviewed Reeve extensively and recorded all the story elements he wanted, and then wove it all together into the screenplay.

    In the case of the “Star Trek” movie, as Nimoy remembers it (in his and William Shatner’s memoirs), this meant Konner & Rosnethal had to do a lot less writing themselves. It sounds like it almost rose to the level of Delroy Lindo’s line in “Get Shorty” about coming up with the ideas for your movie and then hiring a writer “to fill in the commas and shit.” I don’t know if that’s also true of “Superman IV,” but writing is hard, so I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.

    But like you say, Reeve meant well. Getting to add socially-conscious messages to “Superman IV” is what coaxed him into coming back to the role (that, plus Golan & Globus producing a movie he wanted to make, “Street Smarts”). There’s a very snarky right-wing review of “Superman IV” from several years ago that goes through the left-wing ideas Reeve put into the movie and tries to discredit each of them. In a world where Robert Davi just made “My Son Hunter,” “Atlas Shrugged” gets its own trilogy, and one of the Zuckers felt the need to make “An American Carol,” I’m not going to begrudge Superman for wanting to use his movie to say that, hey, it occurs to him that the folks who profit from war might not have the best interests of the people at heart. He even realises at the end that the solutions aren’t as simple as we’d like them to be (just throw all the nuclear missiles in the sun!). But you can’t please everyone. Might as well follow your conscience. No need for that screenwriter to apologise.

  165. Oh the nuclear disarmament plot is not the issue I have with SIV. I would guess the writers wove it into a script consistent with the first 3, then everything got compromised by budget cuts. Jon Cryer talks about learning about changes and reductions on the day.

    Cannon was also trying to use Superman as an asset to raise funding for other movies. If they’d just focused on making the Superman movie they might’ve had a franchise that saved the studio.

  166. Thank you for your thoughts Felicity, I don’t have much to add, but I enjoy reading about these things when people treat them as something seriously worth discussing. There’s a weird dichotomy where Saturday morning/80s Syndication cartoons were these very mainstream things watched by millions and millions of people, but it was so separate and dismissed by the adult mainstream that it almost feels…I don’t want to say “underground”, but something adjacent to that. I remember whenever one of these shows would be referenced in a live action movie, or I recognised a voice actor turning up in a film, it felt like worlds colliding. I’m fascinated by all these people who worked in the industry at the time now sharing their stories online or in books, because there was so little attention paid to it at the time, and even now relatively little has been written about them, with a lot of animation books like Leonard Maltin’s OF MICE AND MAGIC often handwaving these studios away with a sentence or two.

    I think I know the SUPERMAN IV review you’re talking about. Politics aside, I always found that site pretty witless, and people would post links to them all over the place about 15 years ago. Low grade snark was so popular on the internet for so long; I guess it still is, but at least there seems to be more of a pushback against it now.

  167. There’s a cultural side of things to that too, isn’t there? It just wasn’t the done thing for adults to take kid’s stuff seriously, and it was kind of a vicious circle as then the writers focused on the kids excluding adult audiences. My dad never did forgive me for dragging him to the cinema to watch the transformers movie.
    And it’s not like he was complete averse to cartoons, because he loved the Pink Panther, which he had discovered as an adult. It’s just that when even I look at stuff from the eighties it’s… well, aimed at kids, I can’t see the appeal as an adult. Would you folks watch it if it wasn’t for nostalgia or for the technical/design aspects?

    Anyhow, it’s not just that, because he would have never gotten hooked on stuff with a little more depth/adult-friendly elements like, I dunno, Avatar or Samurai Jack; the only things that would get to him were things that would make him laugh. That’s more to do with the ‘kid’s stuff is for kids’ cultural mindset that only really started thawing in the nineties, and whose end kind of paved the way for the rise of nerd culture.

  168. “Would you folks watch it if it wasn’t for nostalgia or for the technical/design aspects?”; well, difficult to say, because obviously that nostalgic element and interest is there, even when I try to look past it. I have watched some of these kind of shows that I didn’t see at the time and enjoyed them, but that is surely on some level because they are pushing certain buttons that were programmed in me when I was young. And just generally I have an interest in animation history, and a lot of pop culture ephemera, that most people do not. I also come from a family that’s a bit atypical with this stuff; my mum was kind of what is now called a “Disney adult” (even worked in admin at Disney’s London office for about a year) and she still fondly remembers and genuinely likes some of the films she took me to like TURTLES III and SUPER MARIO BROS. I think my grandfather more tolerated than actively liked watching the TMNT and Transformers cartoons with me (I remember him saying he was pleased the TF movie didn’t have the twirling logos scene transitions), but other stuff he enjoyed, including, of all things, the DUMB & DUMBER cartoon. One of my grandmother’s favourite series in the last years of her life was Aardman’s Pre-School show TIMMY TIME. It’s not like any of them, or me, didn’t also like proper stuff for adults, but I guess there’s some weird thing in my family DNA that makes me look differently at this kind of stuff.

    In that book I alluded to earlier, Flint Dille (who co-wrote the TRANSFORMERS movie and several episodes of related shows) said that he was aware at the time that unemployment was fairly high and he was writing these shows partly with young parents and other unemployed adults he knew would be watching TV at that kind of time as well as kids. Whether others followed that line of thought I don’t know, and whether or not he lived up to his aims is a matter of perspective. For me, to some extent, to others, not so much. And look, I would rather watch Pink Panthers a lot of the time too, but I like this kind of stuff as well.

    However, to prove without a shadow of a doubt that I am not just a delusional nostalgic, I will admit WHERE’S WALLY/WALDO: THE SERIES does not hold up.

  169. There is an interesting phenomenon about DVD releases of old cartoons. (At least in Germany. Not sure about other parts of the world.) Back in the days, when stuff like HE-MAN or MASK was released, they rarely made it past season 2 (if they had more seasons) and these days they all seem to be released as complete box sets, but not as single seasons. That was attributed to the fact that those former 80s kids often bought the first seasons of their former favourite show from back in the days, but then realized that it doesn’t hold up at all when viewed with adult eyes, so the season 2 boxes didn’t sell good enough to justify any further releases.

    Therefore labels prefer to put these shows out in complete boxes these days, because they can not just crank up the price by calling them “Special Edition” or whatever, they also don’t have the hassle of disappointed viewers who don’t bother with buying the rest of the show, because they already got it all.

    Now I do have to say, I have a pretty high tolerance for low quality kiddy shit, as long as it’s old. It’s kinda like watching a movie from the 50s. The acting is stiff, the effects bad, the script doesn’t hold up to modern writing conventions, but that’s how it was back then. Same with cartoons. A while ago, while recovering from a surgery, I had the MASK channel on Pluto TV running all day. It was fun, but despite the occasional surprisingly funny joke or clever story beat, I couldn’t give you one reason why anybody over the age of 10 should watch it too.

    BUT as I said: I’m forgiving to these flaws when they are old. There are lots of great, modern cartoons out there, that may be made for a kids audience, but actually are really watchable for adults too. (And not just in the “We put some dirty jokes or movie references that kids don’t get in it” way.) But there is also still lots of dumb shit out there, that I most likely would’ve loved in elementary school, but actually makes me change the channel really quick.

  170. Thanks everyone – sorry it’s a kind of unfair question, but I like hearing people articulate why they like things I don’t know how to appreciate. The conversation had been really interesting to me (as someone who doesn’t have an eye for these things I hadn’t considered the clean design aspect for, say, space ghost), hence the question.

    CJ, I think there’s a big difference between 50s Hollywood and 80’s cartoons. Old movies, with some very few exceptions that still feel modern, were left behind as cinema evolved, and you have to make some allowances to enjoy them (because our movie-viewing ‘skills’ have evolved, or at least changed), but it’s not the same with 80’s TV cartoons which (to my eyes) are very inferior to shows that had come before them and had a much wider appeal. Not just the cut corners and cheap look (thank you, Hanna Barbera! And syndication demands, as I’m just now learning) but the writing too. Now I feel a bit of an asshole for assuming everyone involved was hate-writing these things.

  171. The 50s movies/80s cartoon thing is not the most perfect comparison, but for me it works, because I can accept the flaws with “That’s what it was like back then”. Even if the reason behind the cartoons’ flaws are completely different and more frustrating.

  172. It’s partly generational, I suspect. Baby Boomers imprinted on the old-fashioned cartoons and so when high-quality American–Japanese animation came out in the 1980s they didn’t have a reference point for it. So you have the bizarre phenomenon of Boomer movie critics calling the animation in “Transformers: The Movie” “cheap” because it doesn’t look like Disney. “TF:TM” has its flaws but the animation definitely wasn’t cheap.

    And you’re right. Animation historians tend not to care about the 1980s. Jeff Lenburg’s “Encyclopedia of Animated Cartoons” focused mainly on the old-fashioned cartoons, with some coverage of the mid-century Hanna-Barbera-type shows. What little 1980s material there was was inaccurate. He thought the Transformers came from the planet Zobitron and that there was an episode of “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” called “Mr. 099 Goes to Town.”

    The 1980s are usually under-represented. The 1970s never stops coming back, but the 1980s has only come back once, and way behind schedule, and even then it was half-hearted and not quite right. (“Back to the Future II” called it: the Café ’80s was “one of those nostalgia places but done very well.”)

    The 1980s is not a nostalgic decade for Boomers because they were already in mid-life and the world had lost its innocence, and they remember only the greed and the excess and the selling out. It’s not a nostalgic decade for the Millennials and Generation Z because it’s before their time. Sometimes it’s not even nostalgic for the elder half of Generation X (though at least they grasp the concept of Japanese animation, having grown up with “Speed Racer” and “Astro Boy”). It’s only our micro-generation that misses it.

    We have to promise ourselves that when we get old we don’t do that to the young people. So far so good: I don’t begrudge the Millennials their 1990s nostalgia. Even I miss some things about the 1990s, and it was a rough decade for me where I spent a lot of time wishing it was the 1980s. 1992 was a bad year for me personally but pop-culture-wise I can respect it.

  173. *“But not done very well.”

  174. I think you may be underestimating Boomers’ and millenials’ nostalgia for the 80s, Felicity. Beyond the tons of musical and film callbacks (from retrowave to the He-Man revivals to My Best Friend’s Exorcism to Stranger Things) I’ve met tons of younger people who are… obsessed with might be too strong, but certainly had a crush on the decade. My son keeps bringing up different 80s songs that go viral in tiktok, as well as newer bands that do songs in that style.
    It’s by far the decade that holds the biggest, uh, hold on culture at the moment, I think, and it’s done so for a very long time. It’s shallow, sure, but then again all nostalgia is, isn’t it?

  175. I think “Retro”-wise the culture seems to be in an odd spot where 80s is still the default retro aesthetic, 90s nostalgia is also fairly big and we even have some early 2000s nostalgia and even 2010s nostalgia has been hastened by the pandemic and other unpleasantries to the point where teens are waxing about the days when they played MINIONS PARADISE on their parents’ phones a couple of Samsung Galaxies ago, but none of it seems to have quite supplanted the 80s.

    I do agree with Felicity that 80s nostalgia was behind schedule; in the 2000s nostalgia for it was allowed only if it was made clear that you were being ironic or enjoying it as a “guilty pleasure” and that what really spoke to your soul was something more “credible”. There are probably several reasons for this; part of it is a widely shared distaste for the general shift right in the political climate, with all that entails, which may or may not be separable from the popular culture, depending on how you look at it. Beyond that though, and I’m aware this may be getting a bit wanky, I think for all its faults 80s pop culture, particularly music, broke with a lot of the standard machismo-driven rules of what is “cool” that held for all the other post-War decades before, and that came back in vogue in the 90s and 2000s. Guitars took a backseat to Synths, straight men happily wore make-up and bright pastel coloured clothes and openly cared about their hair, artists celebrated and wanted public approval, rather than pretending that they were shocked anyone bought their album at all because “we took everything off it that sounded like a single”. Even Marion Cobretti listened to Gloria Estefan.

    I don’t know if subsequent decades will be as easy to “sell” as a retro icon the way, say, the 50s and 80s have been. A lot of that is the erosion of the so-called “monoculture” by cable/satellite TV, streaming, the internet etc. If you were a teen in the 90s you might associate the era with desaturated colours, angst, grunge, gangster rap, industrial and taboo-busting mainstream films like RESEVOIR GRUNGE and SE7EN; if you were a pre-teen it’s more likely bright primary colours, increasingly silly kids entertainment, 16-bit video games, the Disney Renaissance etc. Of course, not everyone was into the same stuff in the 80s, or any decade, but I’m not sure there’s any iconography that’s as instantly identifiable with the 90s as the geometric shapes and neon lights etc that are so associated with the 80s. And of course at a certain point there will start being a problem that we’ll be trying to revive stuff that was already a revival to begin with!

  176. RESERVOIR DOGS obviously, although RESEVOIR GRUNGE sounds cool.

  177. Just stopping by to say that:

    1. Just this year I finally completed the full run of ROM Spaceknight (plus guest appearances), which I started in quarter bins as a kid. ROM is like Klaatu in the body of Gort– a noble spaceman who looks like a big robot, but who has the added complication of seemingly murdering people– people who are actually evil Dire Wraiths in disguise, but the public doesn’t know that and sees him as a monster. A great hook, all thanks to Bill Mantlo. Mantlo was hit by a car decades back and suffered permanent brain damage, and I believe his brother/caretaker recently passed away. I hope Marvel provided him some Rocket Racoon money so he can live comfortably. A number of years back I secured a ROM print during a charity auction to provide for his care, and it hangs above me as I type this.

    2. Real homies know SUPERMAN IV: THE QUEST FOR PEACE is the best Superman movie. I revisited it a number of years back– and in addition to nuclear proliferation, it touches on the death of print journalism, and Lex Luthor hangs out in a gaudy gold Trumpy apartment. Still timely. Plus Superman fights a guy on the moon. Jon Cryer, who plays Lenny Luthor, would go on to become, in my opinion, the best live-action Lex Luthor in the CW’s Supergirl series. (I know, I was surprised too.)

  178. Thanks for listening, Pacman! I enjoyed your responses too. You’ve nailed it about the feeling of worlds colliding. That website and its conservative Superman IV review are still there AFAIK. A few of its points are hard to argue against. It’s true that if Superman announced he was confiscating the entire world’s nuclear weapons, there would have to be some countries who would not stand up and applaud. It’s true that if the Daily Planet had started losing money, it would be unlikely that the banks of Metropolis would be interested in propping it up. (Though there’s a difference between not making a profit and what corporate America calls “losing money”—making a profit but not making more profit than last year.) Turning the Planet into a Rupert-Murdoch-style paper with no journalistic standards is not a solution, though.

    dreadguacamole & CJ Holden: The writing in my favourite 1980s cartoons was better than it needed to be for just kids. You might say they were aiming for the level of kids and teens, or intelligent kids. That’s why the best of them are still rewatchable 40 years later. For the other 1980s–1990s cartoons that are more kiddified, the nostalgia, animation, acting, music, and atmosphere can paper over the weaker writing, like you said.

    The more kiddified the show is, the less rewatchable it is. Short clips on YouTube are lifesavers in that regard. Recently I saw a clip from a 1980s Scooby Doo where there are aliens who all look like Scrappy wearing a Devo hat, and coincidentally, Scrappy has gone to a rock concert and is wearing a Devo hat, and there is much confusion and hilarity ensues. I don’t think I could have taken a whole episode of that, but 30 seconds of it was fantastic.

    It’s true that the younger generations have shown an interest in the 1980s, but to a die-hard 1980s nostalgist, it feels like they’re not doing it right, and so the 1980s have not truly come back. Maybe it’s like that with every revival. The first time the 1950s came back (in the 1970s) actual 1950s-remembering people probably thought the revival was off-model, somehow. The attention is still appreciated, though. Kudos to the young people for liking the 1980s.

    OTOH remakes of 1980s things don’t make me feel better. The only good thing about it is that sometimes it leads to the re-release of the original thing. When there was that Miami Vice remake movie with Colin Farrell, Spike TV showed the 1980s Miami Vice TV series in reruns. When Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man was big, UPN brought back Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends on Saturday mornings. This was pre-YouTube/DailyMotion/Veoh/Vimeo and you couldn’t just find a clean copy of the shows online. It was a big deal if something came back on TV in reruns and we had a second chance to tape it.

    Stranger Things has come as close as anybody can in this modern era to accurately capturing the 1980s. The people don’t quite look or talk like 1980s people, and everything is still in that washed-out blue filter that everything is filmed in now, but it does seem to be a love letter to the 1980s nonetheless.

    Over at the Aesthetics Wiki they would say that the look of the mid-1990s would be called the Y2K aesthetic and would include things like Windows 95; original PlayStation and Nintendo 64; Spice Girls and boy bands and Britney Spears; Attitude Era wrestling; the original iMac; Austin Powers and The Matrix; and of course, giant bellbottoms, which seem to come back every ten years. You’re right that it’s going to be harder and harder to identify the look of a decade.

    Reservoir Grunge would be amazing!

    Bill Reed: Glad some people love Superman IV, and you’re right about the themes in it. Lenny Luthor frustrates me because Jon Cryer can play a much better 1980s teen, as seen in the movie Hiding Out (1987, same year as Superman IV) where he’s a 20-something stockbroker who has to pretend to be a high school student to hide from a hitman. Instead Superman IV gave him hair and clothes that are like a 1950s person’s impression of a 1980s teenager, and had him talk in an exaggerated dude accent. He’s still likeable though.

    Scary thought—Superman IV is very of-the-1980s but maybe it hates the 1980s. Mixed in with the business, war, political, and environmental issues is the attitude that the culture had gone downhill. Clark Kent doesn’t like Lacey Warfield’s trendy yuppie lifestyle, and she starts to reconsider it after meeting him; Lenny Luthor is a middle-aged person’s parody of a dumb teenager of the 1980s, and his redemption is that Superman drops him off at a 1940s-style orphanage. Not sure what time period the movie thinks is the correct one. The 1960s? Hopefully it’s just that Superman is a square and they were going for comedic contrast.

    Every so often there’s a rumour that Mike Myers really needs a guaranteed-hit movie and is going to do Austin Powers IV. If so, it should theoretically be set in the 1980s, since he went back to the 1960s and 1970s in the previous two. Wonder if he’d continue the pattern or just skip the 1980s like so many others have. Then again, it’s been almost 20 years since Goldmember and you get the feeling Myers is comfortably retired and doesn’t need the money. So it’s about as likely as Dan Aykroyd’s Ghostbusters III getting made.

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