Ban Rotten Tomatoes? We need to talk about fan entitlement

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Source: Flickr/ UnknownNet Photography

Boy, people sure are angry about Suicide Squad. Many because it appears to be a half-baked, made-by-studio-committee mess. Many are wondering why DC sucks at making movies and Marvel doesn’t. Quite a number of fans are very upset – and a few zealous ones decided it must be review aggregation sites to blame. Specifically Rotten Tomatoes should apparently be shut down now “because It’s Critics always give The DC Extended Universe movies unjust Bad Reviews”.

It says a lot about technology that someone not smart enough to understand ‘aggregation’ can still manage to create a petition. What a marvelous age we live in (for the uninformed, Rotten Tomatoes just collates reviews from independent critics, they don’t have any of their own. Also, 30% of Rotten Tomatoes is actually owned by Warner Bros, the very studio these people are accusing the site of being biased against!)

Now you might sneer at idiots trying to shut down Rotten Tomatoes. But you, yes you, you are also to blame. Don’t go pin this on a bunch of morons. You, me and the whole damn movie fandom have some serious explaining to do.

Does the Joker waste his time watching movie marketing? No. Even he has more important things to do.
Does the Joker waste his time watching movie marketing? No. Even he has more important things to do.

Here is the problem: we just cannot wait for something. We have to turn and twist every possible tidbit of an upcoming movie, then go around in shuddering glee of what it could mean. Every trailer is analysed and dissected, every bit of gossip considered as if a religious quote found on a forgotten parchment. Every movie frame and poster is paraded as if it just won a famous battle for us.

The industry reciprocates. Do you know what makes our era unique? Not remakes – we’ve had many remakes over the decades. Not flashy posters. Not spoiler trailers. No, it’s excess. I remember when people used to complain about the teaser-then-trailer combo. I can remember, because it wasn’t that long ago. Now… now we have a landslide of trailers, posters and more. It’s gotten so ridiculous that 10 Cloverfield Lane got press because it DIDN’T MARKET ITSELF!

Be careful. This barrel contains fan opinions.
Be careful. This barrel contains fan opinions.

I’d like to absolve myself a little here. I have not seen a single Suicide Squad trailer. I don’t watch trailers, not unless I get ambushed by them in the 30-minute run before a move starts at the cinema. Do you know why?

Because movies are not gods. They won’t cease to exist because we don’t watch the trailers. Trust me – those cheques are signed. The thing is getting made. Also, watching trailers will not enhance your experience. They will make you more excited, but ultimately a good movie you knew nothing about is still good and a bad movie you knew everything about is still bad.

Sure, watch a trailer to see what you might expect – if you can trust trailers (and we really can’t). But there is a difference between an informed opinion and feeding at the trough of marketing crap. If your conversations are so shallow that you NEED this knowledge to sound interesting, you need to make some serious life choices.

Sadly this marketing onslaught fills a void too many people have. Now even Comic-Con is not about comics, but endlessly promoting movies that would have happened anyway. Yes, there are the rare moments where fan influence gets the job done. Deadpool is an example – and possibly the only example of this.

Read  Marvel initially wanted to give Wakandans a British accent
You spent your entire morning arguing over a movie teaser?! That is NOT maximum effort!
You spent your entire morning arguing over a movie teaser?! That is NOT maximum effort!

But the rest is just a numbing avalanche of ‘pay for me!’ promotional rubbish. It does nothing but get your heart rate and imagination going. But it’s really simple: you are either going to watch a movie or you are not. Watching five different trailers and ten TV spots and twelve different poster designs and fifteen panels and director quotes and star musings…

If you need all that to make up your mind, you might still require adult supervision. And if you need all that to keep stoking your anticipation, then you need a hobby. Or friends. Probably both.

This is wrong. It is bad. You are wasting your time and your life. It may seem like a shocking revelation on a site that is all about that. Trust me, I regularly butt heads with the editors about this. I love movies. I love the art. I love the experience. I even enjoy comic book movies. They are impressive, well-made and certainly entertaining.

But guess what? I enjoyed Civil War even though I didn’t see a single trailer beforehand. I loved Deadpool, yet the first thing I saw was the movie itself. I even enjoyed Batman vs. Superman, probably because I didn’t allow trailers and promos to fill my head with meaningless expectations.

Guess what: if this movie sucks, you don't have to watch it. The original is still out there and Bill Murray still breathes. Nothing has changed.
No trailer or poster or angry fan rant had a say in how good this would be. That’s like shouting at an egg to be fresh before you crack it.

I’m thrilled. I love this age we live in. Finally the world can have decent Spider-Man movies and attempt adapting Preacher. Persepolis is more than a quirky graphic novel and Bruce Campbell will never be unemployed. But I’m starting to wonder if we’re paying too big a price. I’d rather have no Spidey than first see the world go ga-ga over the trailers, then throw a fit when the film comes out. It’s like a toddler being REALLY excited about ice-cream, then realise it’s not their favourite flavour. It’s childish. I don’t want headlines arguing over the merit of the new Ghostbusters and my life was never made better by debates on Rey’s lineage (hint: it will probably be in the next movie, so don’t worry about it. JJ’s on the case.)

Laugh all you want at people petitioning against Rotten Tomatoes. But you had a hand in creating their delusional world by supporting this crap (which, I must add, is nothing but pure marketing – free advertising for the studios). Go meet with friends and talk about your day, go read a book or graphic novel, go marathon your favourite show. Just stop wasting your time with the marketing machine. It won’t make the movie better. That is all up to the movie itself.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Critical Hit as an organisation.

Last Updated: August 5, 2016

James

A total movie glutton, nothing is too bad or too obscure to watch, unless it's something like The Human Centipede. If you enjoyed that, there is something wrong with you. But bless you anyway - even video nasties need love...

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