I unfollowed 12 Twitter accounts this afternoon, many of them comic book-related. Call it cynicism, maturity or even overexposure, but I am quickly beginning to tire of caped crusaders and their hyper-marketed dominance in today’s movie theaters.
I know. I know. Glaring hypocrisy. But something happened earlier this afternoon that was absolutely inexcusable.
Film critic Marshall Fine posted — as of 15:45 PM Monday — the only negative review on Rotten Tomatoes. Within hours, a deluge of negative comments, including death threats directed specifically at Fine, were posted on the page. And why?
Because he compared The Dark Knight Rises to a Transformers installment.
Honestly, get a life. This zealous fanaticism — the same kind that ten years ago birthed rabid Phantom Menace nerds and their quest to give Titanic a “1” as much as possible on iMDb — might be the real turn-off from comic book movies. Obviously, not all (and I’d like to think not the vast majority) of True Believers engage in this behavior, but it is absolutely ludicrous to reject criticism on a film 99% of the world hasn’t even seen yet. Come Thursday night, while I doubt I’ll agree with Marshall Fine’s viewpoint on the film, I know that the ad hominem attacks are despicable. More importantly, Fine’s actual review, as far as I can tell, has been taken down, so now I can’t even read it.
Film criticism exists for a reason: to generate valuable discussion. For the millions of people who adore The Godfather, I guarantee there are those who find it a long-winded bore. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. It’s amazing how many doors the internet age has opened up in the last twenty years, maybe the most dangerous of which is the sheer anonymity commenters gain.
For more on the story, head over to IndieWire. Ugh.
Update: Matt Atchity, Rotten Tomatoes’ Editor in Chief, has released a statement on this mess. Along with temporarily disabling all comments for Dark Knight Rises reviews, Atchity maintains that Fine’s review will still count, even if his site has temporarily crashed from angry traffic:
“But the score will not be affected. His Rotten review still applies to the score, even if the link isn’t active at the moment.”
“If a critic often goes against the majority, but has well-reasoned arguments, it’s unlikely we’re going to ban them, at least not just for having a different opinion. We’re not looking for groupthink here.”
Amen. Comments have not been disabled on Atchity’s piece, so feel free to express yourselves there.