Here’s something I don’t understand. No, really. I was reading a review of The Three Stooges (the only zero score on Metacritic, if you’re interested), when I happened upon this strange, sort of surreal aside:
“…yes, I like the Three Stooges. This must be stated, because Stooges fans only trust other Stooges fans, and although I’m not a charter member of the fraternity – i.e., I don’t live in my mother’s basement, I can carry on a conversation with a woman, etc…”
In other words, the reviewer seems to be stating, “I am a fan, but not a typical fan, because then I must be a loser.” I can’t be the only one who finds it odd that a person would admit to being a member of a community (an inclusive one at that, hence “Stooges fans only trust other Stooges fans”) before immediately, and bitterly undercutting that very same group of people to which he’s ascribed himself, can I?
And why The Three Stooges, of all things? Surely he can’t mean that a beloved comedy troupe (who I find utterly unfunny, full disclosure) who were popular nearly sixty years ago cultivated a fan base of stereotypical, Super Nintendo-era nerds. People who live in their mother’s basements in 2012, more likely than not, don’t love The Three Stooges. Ask that landlord/mother and you might get a better response. It seems like whenever a fan of anything in this day and age is mentioned, it needs this kind of cruel aside. Some might call it a reflex. I call it a damned bad habit.
Look no further than the more negative reviews for the recently released, Joss Whedon-produced film, The Cabin in the Woods. Many love it, our own Nicholas Clement included, but it’s gotten it’s fair share of criticism too. Let’s take a gander at some choice quotes, shall we? Here’s one from the New York Post’s Kyle Smith:
“Movies that mean to deconstruct movies seem to be made solely by and for cinema vampires, those ghost-faced geeks whose pallor is rarely challenged by exposure to the sun.”
Another, from the New York Observer’s Rex Reed (this is a long one, so brace yourself):
“The rest of the movie is the kind of time-wasting drivel designed to appeal to electronics nerds and skateboarders addicted to Xbox 360 video games whose knowledge of the arts begins and ends with MTV2. Instead of electronic wands like Nintendo’s Wii controllers, the master fiends working the control panels tap buttons and pull levers right out of Dr. Strangelove. As their victims plunge deeper and deeper, the narrative gets sillier and sillier. Maybe that’s why an entire row of what they call “fanboys” at the screening I attended laughed all the way through the movie, although I failed to see anything remotely amusing.”
(Editor’s note: It’s worth noting that in the full review, in fact, the line just after the last one featured here, Mr. Reed explicitly does what was asked for him not to do in a publicist’s e-mail, and spoils an uncredited cameo. I’d advise you not to read his review until after seeing the movie, if you have any interest. It’s painful for me to not include it here, because it’s one of the most deluded and laughable sentences in the entire review. Now that I think of it, Kyle Smith spoils the same cameo. So don’t read that either.)
It’s just so petty: attacking a group of people for no reason other than they like a movie you don’t. Reed in particular caps his review with “I failed to see anything remotely amusing,” which is just a really dick-ish thing to say. And the hypocrisy is so incredibly thick when a movie reviewer, i.e. a person whose job it is to sit in a theater and watch movies, insults the people who liked The Cabin in the Woods by calling them “cinema vampires.” I don’t know who’d give a shit about what Smith or Reed are writing without those “vampires.”
In fact, I could go on about Reed’s review. The plot which he describes in detail (already a misstep, considering the movie seems to thrive on its surprises), simply just isn’t the plot of the movie. In fact, to fit his thesis about “electronics nerds” he completely makes up an aspect of the movie that would make it seem like an elaborate video game is being played. This is all after he states that the script, written by director Drew Goddard and Whedon, is a “testament to the wonders of writing under the guidance of crystal meth.” It’s sleazy, mean, and so out-of-touch as to be laughable. But I’m getting off topic.
So I’ll just say this. This joke’s run its course. It was never even that funny to begin with. You know about those “cinema vampires?” They don’t all live in their parents’ basements. They’re all kinds of people. Athletes, doctors, musicians, authors and film-makers. Martin Scorsese? He lived in his house for most of his childhood, mournfully staring at kids playing outside the window while his books and films kept him company. And those “electronics nerds” with their “Nintendo’s Wii controllers?” They’re everyone. 94 million Nintendo Wii’s have been sold worldwide; 45 million in the U.S. alone. People, normal people play video games, for fun or for venting stress or for the sake of art. And the longer you guys hold out with these fantasies of the pimply, overweight slacker, with their fingers covered in Cheetos-dust, the longer we can point and laugh. I’m not quite sure how to finish, so I’ll let Mr. Smith do it for me.
“Fans of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” whose creator Joss Whedon co-wrote the script along with “Cloverfield” writer Drew Goddard (who directed), may enjoy this meta-horror flick, but to me the movie (like “Buffy”) is a vivid illustration of the difference between witty and smarmy. Wit makes you laugh. Smarm, on the other hand, may be clever, but it’s hard to laugh at it: The guy telling the joke beat you to it. You feel like an irrelevant bystander as he chuckles himself to pieces.”
Pretty accurate. The “chuckling himself to pieces” part seems fitting. All of these jabs and jeers may be smarmy, but they’ve never been clever. Or even remotely lighthearted. Or, you know, funny.
What’s your take on this issue? Contact Evan on Twitter (@Not_Found_Blog)!