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On Criticism and Fandom

It’s the news story that’s blowing up the geekier sides of the internet right now: Suicide Squad is getting utterly and completely trashed by reviewers. It’s being called a mess, boring, depressing, the characters don’t make sense, it’s not any fun, it’s trying to be too many other movies – in short, it’s being ripped apart. Vanity Fair even went as far to call it worse than Fantastic Four, which I have such a hard time believing, but that’s not the point.

Because there are a lot of fans who were very, very excited to see this movie, the sudden beat down its receiving has been controversial in some fan circles. To the point where the internet is now raging with the report that some fans have started a petition to take down Rotten Tomatoes as a site entirely. And I think that means it’s time we have a talk, everybody. Pull up a chair.

Believe me, guys, I understand the feeling of something you love getting attacked. My favorite movies of all time are things like Mortal Kombat and John Carter, and they weren’t exactly critical darlings. But we’ve talked about this before: Art can’t ever really be “bad.” There can be a large consensus of people who don’t like the thing you like, but that doesn’t take away from your enjoyment of the thing. There is no major conspiracy out there that’s trying, for example, to make Marvel successful while DC tanks. Marvel’s just found a formula that connects with audiences while DC is still struggling to stand out from the pack. But if you liked Batman v Superman, or Man of Steel, or any of the DCEU that’s been out so far, that doesn’t make you wrong, and no one’s trying to say that you are.

But – and this is perhaps the biggest but of all – because art is a purely subjective form, that means the critics aren’t wrong either. If someone hates Suicide Squad, they’re not doing it because they’re out to get you, or destroy your fandom, or anything else. They’re a human being with an opinion, just like you, and its as valid as yours. That means that the reaction where you go into the comments on onto twitter and tell that writer you wish they’d be killed or raped is completely and utterly not ok. You’re declaring in a public forum that you value David Ayer’s take on Harley Quinn more than the life of another human being, and that just makes you look immature and degenerate. Don’t do it.

Critics exist because sometimes people want to know how a person they trust felt about a film or a game or a book before they go consume it. A lot of us are not doing the greatest financially right now, and reviewers are like friends who get to see the thing early and let us know if we should spend the money. If you don’t agree with a reviewer’s opinions, just go find one you do agree with. Or don’t read reviews at all, if you want to judge the thing for yourself with no preconceptions.

Remember, there are people out there who hate The Wrath of Kahn and The Princess Bride. There are people who love Suicide Squad. Just because there’s a consensus doesn’t make it true. But the moment you go out and attack someone, even verbally, for disagreeing with your opinion (especially about a movie you haven’t seen yet), you’re crossing a line into becoming something nobody should want to be. And that’s a bully.

Mike Fatum
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Referred to as a God Among Men, the Greatest Man that Ever Lived, and That Dude Over There…No, The Dude with the Long Hair and the Goatee…Yes, That Guy, Mike has grown up being known and loved around his apartment. In addition to being a successful film director and editor, he loves video games, movies, comic books, board games, and his wife and cat. He’s been friends with Jarys for over a decade now, and they started hosting a radio show together on college that became the genesis for the Ace of Geeks Podcast. When he realized he had so many talented friends who could write, the Podcast became an entertainment website, and here we are.

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