Friday, October 30, 2015

Yes, I Get to See the New 'Star Wars' Early...So What?

Once in awhile the subject of me getting to see movies early comes up.  This usually happens around the time of a highly anticipated summer blockbuster.  People say how much they are looking forward to a certain movie and I respond with a "oh, I get to see that two weeks early" or "I've already seen it."  There is usually a little jealousy at this point, but rarely to the extent I've seen with "Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens" (yes, I'm including 'Episode' in the title because we all know that's what this movie is). These days people have been seething with anger finding out that I am getting to see this movie earlier then them.  The comments range from "you lucky SOB" to "why can't I have your job?"  Here's the thing though guys: Me seeing the new Star Wars movie early really isn't that big of a deal, and honestly, if you were in my position it wouldn't be to you either.

Yes, I do get to see Star Wars early, but I also get to see virtually everything early.  Every movie that a studio hopes to be a hit is screened for the critics (movies that aren't screened are usually so bad we find we don't care).  Every.  Single.  One.  So yes, I get to see Star Wars early, but I also saw "Specter" last week.  I saw "Minions" three days before it went wide.  I saw all "The Hobbit" movies two weeks before they were made available to the general public (then I went to them again with my family for Christmas).  Seeing a movie early loses it's luster very quickly,  It's far more impressive if you're one of the few people to see "Let it Be" or "Song of the South," movies that studios try desperately to keep out of the public eye.  Seeing a movie early is a bragging right you can have for two weeks at the most.

Trust me, I would give up my rights to see the next six Star Wars movies early if I could view "The Day the Clown Cried," which would be a bragging right I could take to the bank.  The second thing to keep in mind is when you are in this line of business, seeing things early becomes the new norm.  So you aren't seeing movies early after awhile so much as you are on a different set schedule.  The third thing is that when you do this for a living long enough and you stop getting excited about new releases because there's always something to see (but I've written about that in another article).  The final reason this is not a big deal is something that is rarely discussed (and hasn't been suggested by a lot of people recently), but it needs to be said:

"Stars Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens" might not even be a good movie.

Sorry, but it's true.  Excitement for the film is high and a lot of people want to see it, but that doesn't mean we're going to get a good movie.  The trailers (which I have not seen) may be exciting to watch, but as I've said before, trailers are not an indicator of a films ultimate quality.  We had this sort of excitement over "Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace," which was so hyped we were absolutely convinced it couldn't be bad.  Yeah...glad that went according to plan, right?  If I may be frank with you all, I think people who are pre-ordering their tickets for this thing and getting their hopes up are fools.  This franchise has burnt you so many times, that I would hope you would demand the film prove itself in being good BEFORE you make it a hit!  But that's a rant for another day.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Bad Language in Reviews

Before we begin I want to take a moment to mention that this post started out as something completely different.  In fact, I wrote another blog post altogether where I publicly shamed someone on Facebook.  The argument got started over his using the f word to make a point and claiming he was more intelligent than everyone for using the word to drive home a point.  I made the argument that foul language didn't really mean that, and his response was to unfriend me and basically act like a spoiled prissy brat.  I scrapped that article because I am more mature than that at the end of the day, but it did get me thinking about a touchy subject in the profession today: Bad language in film reviews.

When film critics first became a thing, there was never any bad language in their writings.  This was mostly because the reviews were on TV (in a day before cable), printed in newspapers (are those still around?), and were geared for families because they made up for most of the ticket buyers (clearly not the case anymore).  These days it's a different ballgame now.  TV has expanded to cable and premium cable, which have more lax rules when it comes to what you can and can't say.  YouTube has become a huge way to express opinions, and those have no editorial control at all.  Newspapers are pretty much a thing of the past, and blogs and Twitter have overtaken them as the new place to get information.  Again, most of these sites are free from decency regulations (though more are gaining editorial control for quality sake).

Teenagers now make up a majority of the ticket buying, and they don't give a flying rat crap about quality written reviews.  If they read a review, it's because they find the review to be entertaining to read, not insightful.  All of these factors have made critics change their writing styles to adapt to the times, and one of the things they have adapted is foul language.  Foul language, for better or worse, is a big selling point for opinions and editorial these days.  You don't have to think of clever ways to say something is a piece of...well, you know.  You can feel more "adult" even if you are a ten year old kid writing on a Live Journal account.  And the f word is funny.  I mean, it's so funny that a video game nerd made a career out of saying it to bad Nintendo games.

So the question is brought up several times on why I don't curse in my reviews (or, should I say, very RARELY curse).  Why not jump on the band wagon and just do what everyone else is already doing and finding success in doing?  Well, the main reason I don't use foul language in my reviews is because foul language is also poor language.  Have you ever wondered why your grandparents said that cursing strongly suggested a poor vocabulary?  Let me tell you something: It's not because your grandparents were prude.  In fact, the real reason, believe it or not, is because your grandparents did know what those words actually mean.  Have you ever looked up the definitions of the curse words you put in your reviews (or use in real life)?  I mean, have you ever REALLY researched what they mean?!

More often than not, you are using those words incorrectly.  Words have power, but they also have meaning.  The dreaded f word, the one word that is so offensive and used more than most curse words, is almost always used incorrectly.  Take a moment to dust off your dictionary and look up what the word means.  Now, if you say this word, think of how you use it in a sentence.  I bet you aren't using the word correctly yourself.  It sounds good, yes, but you aren't using it correctly.  The thing about learning you are doing something incorrectly is that no matter how right it sounds, you now feel foolish for sounding uneducated.  It's like when Captain America thought that a fondue was a slang term for intimate relationships (when it really is the word people use for a cake you dip in chocolate).

Once he found out what it really meant, do you think he was going to use it in the way he thought it meant like he did before?  Of course not.  Yet in the world of film criticism, all these young critics use foul language in their reviews all the time without realizing they aren't using proper English.  It sounds good to them, so they say the words, but they don't comprehend what they mean.  That is the main reason I don't use bad language in my reviews.  I know what they mean, and I respect my readers too much to use them.  I want to strive to use proper sentence structure, descriptive words that mean what they are supposed to mean, and I want the review to read as good as it possibly can.  Now, once in a blue moon, I will use a well placed curse word to drive a point home.

I'm not saying curse words can't be used for great effect.  Used properly, any word can pack a punch.  What frustrates me is how liberally these words are used, how often they are used, and how they don't even mean the things the writers think they mean.  Also, using certain words over and over again doesn't read very well, yet most people will use the f word two or three times in the same sentence.  I mean, come on, isn't that a problem your teacher in third grade told you to avoid?  The point of this post is not to tell you how to write reviews or express your opinions, but rather to share my particular view on this topic, and hopefully give you some insight into why I feel the way I do about it.