Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Choosing what not to watch, entertainment today, and the future of Cinema Freaks

I didn't see Batman vs Superman and that was a conscious decision that I don't regret.

I hate that that makes me sound like some kind of pretentious idiot – like, really, do I deserve accolades and applause for that courageous decision? No. I made a Facebook post on my personal account about it the day the movie came out, and I felt like it could be interpreted in that way. But really I just wanted to talk about the choices we now have and the incredibly stupid concept of 'hate-watching.'

I've been thinking about art, and about how we have access to so much art now. We can stream any number of movies through Netflix and Amazon Prime. There are Redboxes where you can stick a credit card in and a real live DVD plops out like gumballs from a fucking toy machine in a K-Mart when I was a kid. There are indie theaters and showcases playing crazy, different movies that I couldn't pass up on as a fan of film.

I just think we should have some discernment over what we watch. I bash movies on this site and for years I talked about the terrible state of horror movies and movies in general – overblown sentiments, perhaps, but the intent was genuine. I saw the sheer overload of crap coming out and I had some things to say about it. But I never really tortured myself doing the reviews for Cinema Freaks, as pretty much everything I chose was left-of-center and something I thought would be fun to spotlight – I was never like 'hey, let's review this Uwe Boll movie' or some shit like that. You should never choose easy targets. Never something that the jokes 'write themselves' for.

And if I saw Batman vs Superman, a movie that I figured I would not enjoy, based on Zack Snyder's involvement and my dislike of Man of Steel, what would I be doing then? Sure, I could have made a review of it, gotten some funny jokes in, but then what? I still would've paid my $10 to see the thing in theaters. I thought, how can I really complain about a movie being bad if I'm still contributing my money to the system that helps make these movies. That seems hypocritical to me, and actually counterproductive at that. I paid money to see a movie, then I bash it and rage against the hollow absence of meaning and the commercial mindset that produced it. But more will keep coming out just like it and worse. What's the point? I just didn't see BvS. It was easier that way, and poor box office returning sales have vindicated me in that.

We have choices in what we take in as art now. I don't have to waste my $10 going to see a movie I don't think I'll enjoy. It isn't my critical imperative. I don't consider myself a critic of movies as some sort of title – it has always seemed so weird to me to have a professional job and have people only see you because you have opinions on movies. It seems kind of presumptuous and pretentious. Rather I think the general public just needs to be more critical. Like what you like, who cares about what it is, but spend some time talking about it and analyzing things, even if just a little bit. Don't accept things because 'it's a dumb movie, turn your brain off.' Talk about it, no matter what it is. That's what I want to do with anyone I see movies with.

Instead of going to see a movie I didn't think I'd enjoy, I'd rather spend my money seeing films like Green Room or The Family Fang, both of which were playing down at my local indie theater here. I'd rather see those movies. And maybe I'll see Batman vs Superman and it won't be as bad as I thought sometime. I don't know. It's not a priority.

(I also didn't see, and have zero plans to see, the 11/22/63 miniseries – if only because that book is one of my favorites and a very personal thing to me. I couldn't stand to re-read it again and have a possibly mediocre TV series and the images of some other people in my head for those characters. So it goes. Choose what you watch. There's no critical imperative about that.)

I do plan to keep reviewing movies for Cinema Freaks, too. But in recent years, as my reviews got longer and more detailed and I began to put more time into them than the immature splatterings of the early years, I started to think about some things. I was making my way into professional life. I had real professional writing jobs that took up lots of time out of my day. I started doing stand-up comedy – which I wouldn't have done if not for this blog – about a year ago, and I was having more fun doing that, going out and meeting people, than shacked up inside at night hammering away at a review when I had nothing else to do. It became a question of priority. I will do more Cinema Freaks reviews, though maybe they'll be more sporadic now – might be better in the long run. It might do something to ensure better quality reviews in the future. And I'm avoiding from now on any large declarations or quasi-personal attacks against directors. That's passe and immature – the stuff of misplaced rage of a younger mind. So, from here out, jokes. More jokes and observances and critiques not of petty minutiae but of the larger qualities of a work.

A large majority of the movies I've talked about here were really insane, bad movies that my friends and I made fun of and had fun doing it. It is fun to make fun of movies. I don't think anyone would deny that. That's why Mystery Science Theater and Nostalgia Critic got so popular. People love watching terrible movies being torn to shreds. Who knows why? Maybe it's some kind of schadenfraude. We just find it cathartic, maybe. Or maybe it's the even simpler answer – it's fun to mock what is absurd and different. Maybe we're all high-school bullies with a hive mind inside.

So there'll be more Cinema Freaks. We might be slower, but we're still around.

Cinema Freaks is dead. Long live Cinema Freaks. I can't promise that we won't go and hate-watch The Purge 3 this summer.