OPINION: Stop Spreading Toxicity and Let People Enjoy Movies
It’s hard to talk about film in 2017 without bringing up Star Wars: The Last Jedi, one of the most loved and hated movies of the year. Prior to the film’s release, there was plenty of hype surrounding it, an exciting trailer, and extremely positive reviews from critics, with the film earning an 85 on Metacritic. Being excited for this movie and having just finished finals, I went and saw the movie on opening night. I loved The Force Awakens and Rogue One, so I had high hopes for this movie and to me, it delivered. There was so much I loved about this movie, how beautiful the cinematography was (The snow planet looked amazing), I loved Kylo and Rey’s story-line, and I felt it had some of the best moments in the series’ history (My jaw dropped several times when Kylo and Rey fought the imperial guards, during the hyper space scene, and seeing the fake out with Luke and Kylo). Overall, I felt that this movie had some really impressive and fun to watch scenes. I loved almost everything about this movie, although it wasn’t perfect, and left the theater feeling entertained and happy.
Flash forward to about a week later. Most of my friends were home for the holidays and I decided to see The Last Jedi again with them, since none of them had seen it. I mentioned to one of my friends how people had mixed feelings on the movie, but I loved it and was kind of expecting that my friends would at least kind of like it too, even though some of them hated The Force Awakens. This was not the case. At all. They hated it. They hated Rose, they hated Admiral Holdo’s purple hair, they hated Luke’s final scene, they hated Snoke’s fate, and they hated the movie as a whole. As much as these are valid opinions (and anyone is free to hate The Last Jedi), I think it’s fair to say that there comes a point where people cross the line of being critical and actively try to take away from someone’s enjoyment. By no means do you have to enjoy The Last Jedi, but a lot of the hate for it was pretty unfair and became kind of personal.
One thing people like to claim is that Disney paid off reviewers. This makes zero sense. There are two possibilities: Disney is paying people off and every single reviewer is accepting these bribes with nobody exposing them. Another possibility is that Disney is only paying off certain reviewers, but only those who hold the most influence. Both of these are ridiculous. For one, The Last Jedi received 53 positive reviews and 3 mixed reviews and on Rotten Tomatoes, the film received a 91% approval rating from critics, with 377 out of 415 leaving positive reviews. This disproves Disney paying off reviewers given that not everyone gave the film a positive rating. Of course there’s also the fact that not all Disney movies have received positive reviews and Star Wars really doesn’t need positive reviews to be successful, with The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones earning Metacritic scores of 51 and 54 respectively. All of this is to say that some people genuinely enjoyed The Last Jedi and it’s not the case that they were all paid off by Disney (if Disney is paying people off they should at least pay me considering how much I enjoyed the movie and have had to defend my opinion). Some people hated this movie so much they refused to believe that people could actually enjoy it and tried to prevent people from liking it.
Regardless of your stance on The Last Jedi, I think it’s important to recognize that people can enjoy movies even if you didn’t. The amount of toxicity towards this movie online is ridiculous. Kelly Marie Tran, the actress for Rose, deleted her social media after being harassed online. People hated a character that she portrayed so much, they bullied her into leaving social media. There have been claims that Star Wars is being ruined by feminist, SJW propaganda, which is of course also ridiculous and untrue. Having characters of different races and genders other than white men doesn’t mean this at all. These claims don’t hold any ground and are mostly just filler to add to the fire of The Last Jedi hate.
Another somewhat controversial movie series is the DCEU. Justice League was seen as a disappointment by many, although there were some fans who found the movie enjoyable despite its flaws. Many fans still want to see the Snyder Cut of this movie and continuously mention it on social media. Listen, I’m sure the Snyder Cut of Justice League would be great to watch, but even if it exists (it hasn’t been confirmed either way), it isn’t worth dwelling on. For one, the future of the DCEU is unclear, as in the last few months there have been rumors about recasting Batman, Superman, and even Lois Lane. If the Snyder Cut exists, it very likely wouldn’t affect the DCEU due to the fact that what happens in the officially released movie will almost certainly be considered canon over anything that may be different in the Snyder Cut. The possibility of a Snyder Cut only undermines the theatrical release and could cause more toxicity and hate for Justice League due to the possibility that there is a better version of it out there. The whole situation is based on a possibility that the Snyder Cut exists and it’s become a much larger and more toxic conversation than it should be. Whether it exists or not, it’s time to move on and let people enjoy the DCEU movies as they are.
Something else to consider is that it’s possible to disagree with someone on your opinions of a movie and to be civil. To avoid creating toxicity, I won’t mention specific Twitter users that spread hate on film twitter, but you don’t have to look far to find these accounts. On the other hand, a great example of how to disagree with people without spreading toxicity is the account @DRMovieNews. The owners of this account review movies and constantly engage in conversation with other twitter users about them, but do so in a civil manner. After I replied to their tweet about the Golden Globe nominations stating that I thought several movies should’ve been nominated, they simply said “Totally agree with all of your choices, except Widows, but you probably knew that already haha”. It’s that simple to disagree with people. No need to get into a long, heated argument, just leave it at that and move on. You can disagree without using personal attacks and forcing people to justify why they like or dislike a movie.
Review sites give more people a voice online and sometimes can add fuel to arguments about the quality of a movie. Some users may see more movies than others, but that doesn’t mean that they are an expert on film. Yes you might be familiar with all of Nolan’s, Kubrick’s, and Tarantino’s movies, but it’s important to realize that no matter how many movies you watch, that doesn’t make your opinion the most important. Certain people who are passionate about film like to put others down for enjoying blockbusters and movies that they don’t deem high quality. The internet in general can be a toxic place and it’s important to take a step back and realize that other people may not have seen as many movies as you have and that doesn’t make their opinion invalid. Cinephiles are not the only ones allowed to have opinions on movies. Further, it puzzles me that some users believe the average user rating for a movie should reflect their own personal rating. Browsing IMDB, I came across a list called “Overrated 2017-18 movies that deserve a much lower star rating…”, on which the user gave 1 star reviews to movies he thought weren’t rated low enough. The idea of this list is laughable. For example, users like this believe that if a movie has an average rating of 7, but you feel it should be a 5, you should give it a 1 instead of a 5 so that it gets closer to your personal rating. This idea completely misses the point of an average rating. This average rating is supposed to reflect everybody’s opinion, not your own. This means that one individual’s opinion should not be give more wait just because they feel strongly about a film. Aside from this, the average user rating doesn’t really mean that much. Sure a high rating means that most people liked a movie, but that’s it. Awards shows like the People’s Choice Awards exist that take into account general audiences’ opinions, but IMDB score doesn’t even matter in this case. It’s laughable to see users such as the one previously mentioned focused so much on changing the average rating. It’s not that deep and once again, people should move onto something more important.
Objectively, some movies are bad. Whether it’s bad acting, bad editing, bad cinematography, there are films that just aren’t high quality. However, some movies, regardless of whether they are good or bad, are still enjoyable to certain people. Recently, the movie Venom comes to mind. Venom is… well... imperfect. The plot is messy, the characters aside from Venom aren’t great, and it just didn’t hold up to the standards that other Marvel movies have given us in the last few years. All that being said, it was still a pretty fun and enjoyable movie for some Marvel fans and has performed much better than anyone could have foreseen. It’s not a great movie, but that doesn’t mean people aren’t allowed to enjoy it. No matter how strongly you feel about a movie, someone may feel differently and that’s ok. Instead of talking down to Venom fans, focus on other movies that you personally enjoy more.
There are movies that people are extremely passionate about and I know from personal experience that there’s no worse feeling than being called annoying when talking about something you love. My personal favorite movie of the year thus far released the same week as Venom. If you follow me on any social media, you know that I was obsessed (and still am obsessed) with A Star is Born. I constantly posted about the movie when it first released because it made me happy. This is why it sucks to talk about this movie and have people call me annoying. Am I annoying? Probably. Am I passionate about this movie? Absolutely. Don’t shut people down for things that they are passionate about. Listen to them and if you really don’t care, move on. You don’t have to counter every person’s opinion. Let people enjoy movies and don’t shut them down or shame them for it.
One last thing I want to mention is the sentimental value that some movies hold. Some films can hold a lot of personal value to a person, whether it’s through nostalgia or relatability. In the past year, Black Panther has been extremely successful, earning over $700 million in the U.S. box office alone, along with an extremely high Metacritic score of 88 and very positive reviews from critics. Almost everyone I have spoken to has enjoyed this movie. Personally, I feel this movie is well written, I loved all the characters (even minor characters like Shuri were fun to watch), and almost every aspect of this movie worked for me. That being said, there is a vocal minority of people who hate on this movie and claim that it’s overrated, attacking people who like big blockbuster movies such as Black Panther. You don’t have to like Black Panther, but it’s unfair to discredit this movie and those who enjoy it. This movie holds a lot of cultural significance and is very important in terms of representation. Another movie from this year is To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before. While I didn’t enjoy this movie, I saw plenty of love for it, especially given that the lead character is an asian girl. This movie is of course important due to its representation and probably holds a lot of meaning to those who feel represented by it. I’m happy for those who felt represented and enjoyed the movie, despite not being fond of the movie myself. It’s easy to not enjoy a movie and allow others to enjoy it. There’s no use attacking people’s taste in movies when there are thousands of other movies out there to enjoy and speak positively about.
As I’ve said, you don’t have to like every single movie you watch and it’s valid to dislike movies that everyone seems to love. However, it’s important to stop worrying so much about what movies we hate. Instead, focus on the movies you like in order to decrease toxicity and allow other people to enjoy things. As said by Rose in The Last Jedi, “We’re going to win this war, not by fighting what we hate, but saving what we love.”