Friday, July 17, 2015

The Green Inferno, online petitions and freedom of speech

Oh boy. Here we go again. It's time for another round of "freedom of speech" suppression when talking about a provocative film - this time, Eli Roth's upcoming The Green Inferno. There's a petition now to ban the film altogether for its portrayal of indigenous native tribes in the forest, and I'll get to that in a second. Here's a trailer:

The film is about a bunch of kids who want to save the rainforests getting eaten by cannibals, or some shit like that. Roth himself has said it's supposed to be a critique of the Internet's social justice warriors and slacktivist movements - i.e. people who take up these causes but don't do anything except post online about it - and a throwback to old 70s-style gore flicks like Cannibal Holocaust. And, I guess he really just wanted another excuse to show how much gore he can fit into a movie. He doesn't really have much else, but hey, be nice to him, he doesn't realize how much he sucks.

The petition... well, it's basically just more of what you expect. It talks about how the film is offensive because indigenous native tribal peoples are often portrayed as the villains on screen. Which, yeah, is pretty obvious. I don't think anyone is going to dispute that.

Where it goes wrong is the same way anything like this goes wrong, namely by trying to ban it. That's become our first instinct now, all the time - don't like something, try to get it banned completely. We know it's offensive. That much isn't news to us. But trying to ban it won't work, especially not with a stupid online petition. Nothing has ever really been accomplished with an online petition. You're just throwing more words into the void that will evaporate like an early morning mist. Nothing will come of this - you won't change a thing, not if you're just trying to get the movie banned.

Why not write some new stories yourself and get those published, or just talk about how shitty the movie is without wasting your effort on a petition? Both of those things would be more positive and better overall then beating the dead horse of an online petition, which is basically an early grave for any potential thing getting done. It's frustrating because your efforts are in the right place - trying to fight for movies that better represent your culture. But you're wasting your time with the petition thing!

But really, what always pisses me off is the kinds of people who keep trotting out the "freedom of speech" bullshit every time something like this happens. They're taking our freedom of speech! Censorship! Come on, nobody cares about censoring you. Maybe you should get over yourself, deflate that ego balloon you're so intent on stroking.

Why is it that every time this happens, it's inevitably because of something that was worthless in the first place? People sure love to talk about freedom of speech these days, but only when defending the most lowbrow, sexist, racist trash. But I guess you need your freedom of speech to be as much of a hateful douchebag as possible, right? Or is it not my freedom of speech to say that you suck as a person for perpetuating these ideas? The train just keeps going, does it not?

The funniest thing about this is that all these "freedom of speech" rallying cries have no idea what they're talking about. Freedom of speech in the United States means you can say whatever you want and the government can't send you to jail for it. It doesn't mean we can't call you assholes for what you say, or that nobody can criticize you. Just because you have freedom of speech, doesn't mean everything you say is worth listening to or deserving of praise.

And fuck off with this whole "I may not like what you say, but I will defend your right to say it" thing. That's pussy, half-measure shit. Have some conviction, and just say what you think. Freedom of speech is best left to the actual lawyers and courtrooms, and we don't have to clutter up our own arguments with misappropriations of what we think the law is.

The Green Inferno is probably gonna suck ass anyway. The trailer looks shitty and the movie is probably just an excuse for gore. But at least you'll get to see us review it here at Cinema Freaks!


A few things...

I really think it's worth saying that the efforts of these people to ban the movie is no different from the efforts of super hardcore Christians to ban books in schools. You're just taking what you don't want to see and trying to make sure no one else has to look at it. While I'm more sympathetic by far to your cause, it's still not a good idea. Going too hardline in any direction is bad. Instead, just try talking about why it sucks and why it's offensive without this whole petition angle. That's all you need.

The efforts of those who hate censorship are misguided too. If you think "censorship" is bad now because some individuals don't like racist or sexist messages in media...well, you'd better be glad you're not living in the time when the Comics Code Authority was a thing, when comic books were so censored that Batman turned into what the Adam West show ended up being - the Joker was so censored, he didn't show up in comics for years! If you pissants today who bitch about censors lived in THAT time...well you'd probably kill yourselves. But hey, fuck historical context, right?

I also love the blogs I've seen saying that they defend Roth's "right" as an artist to make movies about whatever he wants. Claiming Roth is an artist is a pretty laughable statement. He's more like that guy who used to draw pictures of giant pulsating penises in art class to shock people. Plus he's said his insulting depictions of foreign people in movies, which have made entire countries angry, are meant to depict "Americans' ignorance of the world around them."

Which makes sense to me! I'm going to go make a movie set in the 60s that has black people as possessed serial killing aliens from the future who are intent on destroying straight white American culture. But it's not racist, because it depicts the white Americans' fear of the unknown. Fuck Eli Roth, fuck his movies, fuck anyone who defends his movies. He's trash, plain and simple.

Really, it's just clear - if your "freedom of speech" is all about being able to watch an Eli Roth movie that depicts other cultures as serial killers and savages, well, maybe you have other fucking problems.

So I guess I'm kind of saying that everyone is wrong. OK. I'll go with it!