💩 And I Don't Like Anybody Very Much...
Time to mix up the format again. This week we're looking at a bunch of things that I hate... but don't really have anything interesting to say about. Or, at least, not enough to justify their own post. So, in no particular order, here are things that I'm not thrilled about, but on a much smaller scale.
Bad Movies I Haven't Seen
The following movies are things that are notoriously bad that I considered watching for this project, but never got around to: Zoom, The Book of Henry, The Snowman, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Shock Treatment, Green Lantern, Suicide Squad. Don't worry, they're terrible. Maybe I'll watch them some time in the future.
Robin Hood (2010)
I was actually planning to write about this one and got a little behind because my November was crazy. The movie started out as a script called Nottingham that was essentially a police procedural in which the Sheriff tracks down an elusive thief in Sherwood Forest. It was a hot script that started a bidding war that was eventually won by Ridley Scott. Who promptly re-wrote the thing because he wanted to do a movie about archery. I watched the first half hour or so to make sure it was actually bad--and that first half hour is a hot mess--but when I settled in to finish it I found myself compelled by the chemistry between Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett, enough so that I couldn't really justify "hating" it, even though large swaths of it just don't work.
The Star Wars Prequels
The word "anticipointment" was coined for these. We were so excited that we actually convinced ourselves that they weren't garbage for a while there. But they are. Convoluted plots, dull characters, bad acting from good actors (which is usually a good sign that that something was terribly directed), and they're just proof that George Lucas has no idea what people actually liked about Star Wars. Kids that grew up with them are adults now, so they have risen in people's estimations lately, but I still don't think they hold up worth a darn. For fun, here's the first in a series of videos that Belated Media did where they workshopped the story into something more compelling, and it is my head-canon.
A dull movie featuring a vacuum of charisma in the form of leading man Bruce Dern. The story is rather silly, considering how self-serious the film is, and it's incongruously scored by Joan Baez. That said, it was very influential and it's hard to get too upset about a film whose central thesis is "maybe don't kill all the plants."
The Chronicles of Narnia
When I read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe in fourth grade, I didn't recognize the obvious analogs to Christianity. When we got to the end and Aslan rose from the grave because of "deep magic"... it felt very deus ex machina to me, and I didn't even know what that phrase was at the time. Anyway, the books are boring, the stories aren't compelling, and the most interesting of them are undermined by Lewis's heavy-handed insistence on tying everything back to religion. I was actually really enjoying The Voyage of the Dawn Treader up until Aslan showed up literally as a lamb. Deep, beleaguered sigh.
The Gospel of Matthew
Speaking of Christianity... If you've read my most recent Christmas post, you might have come across the bit where I called this book... ahem... "a goddamn hate crime." This book represents in microcosm everything that I find loathsome about institutional Christianity. It mines scriptures for proof-texts without making any attempt to understand them. It exploits Judaism while simultaneously condemning Jews in order to distinguish itself. Because of that treatment of Judaism, it is at a minimum indirectly responsible for murder, theft, outright war, and ongoing antisemitic violence and aggression on a literally unfathomable scale. And it does so with such a profound lack of intellectual rigor, that it's hard to understand why anyone would think it should be canonical outside of being a hella convenient excuse to oppress a minority. And... okay, the Sermon on the Mount has some merits, I guess. Anyway, I don't care how a person prays, but f**k this book.
Angry men yell about something the author made up. Asimov is an idea guy and his characters are notoriously flimsy by modern standards, but I can't even get behind the ideas in this one. I just know too much about probability to ever buy into the idea that even the broad trajectory of large groups of people can be predicted with any kind of accuracy. Not coincidentally, having a pretty firm grasp of mathematics is also why I never liked Darren Aronofsky's Pi.
Basically Neil Gaiman's Entire Oeuvre
I wanted to write this one up for the click-bait alone, but at the end of the day it's just a matter of taste. Gaiman writes beautiful sentences and his thinking-man's-Tim-Burton tone has earned him the adoration of the Hot Topic set, but I find his plotting to be tedious and meandering and thoroughly unengaging. On the other hand, by all accounts he is a lovely human being.
Transformers: Rise of the Fallen
Michael Bay's first Transformers movie has some serious flaws, but at the end of the day it's a film that you go to see for the spectacle, and it definitely delivers on the spectacle. The sequel was overlong and just pushed me beyond what I was willing to forgive in terms of sophomoric nonsense. And that's saying something considering how much I loved the first one. I think the turning point for me was Wheelie humping Megan Fox's leg.
Fifty Shades of Grey (book)
Despite the fact that I have given talks about line-editing using the first paragraph of this book as an example, I've found myself being something of a defender of it in the last few years. The prose is bad and the plot is paper-thin, yes, but it's also a victim of "being a very popular thing whose primary audience is women" and has been unjustly piled on. So like... is it bad? It's badly written, but it titillates where it's supposed to titillate and it does a good job of amping up sexual tension. What more do you want from your erotica? The fact that it also happened to achieve a once-in-a-generation perfect storm of PR does not actually make it a crime against literature.
The Wizard of Oz
I don't like old movies in general, but this one annoys me a lot. Not for any good reason, mind you. I was a fan of the books growing up, so it bugs me that Dorothy is clearly a young woman and not a little girl. It's very campy and overacted and I can't help but notice things like how the performers aren't so much following a road as walking up to a wall where the Emerald City has been painted. But I fully acknowledge that these aren't actual problems with the movie so much they're things that just irritate me specifically. You can see the seams in The Princess Bride just as clearly on the big screen, but I consider that movie to be the finest film every committed to celluloid.
The Lady in the Water
I didn't want to hit the same properties or directors more than once (Zack Snyder being the noteworthy exception), and there was no way I was not going to write up The Last Airbender, but prior to that, Lady in the Water was a go-to example of a movie so bad it must be studied. Although, for fun, if you pretend that you're watching a Studio Ghibli film, it actually kind of works. The static camera, the over-the-top characters, and the weird forest creatures start to make sense. You can also more easily dismiss the awkward dialog and plot that revolves around a story someone's grandmother is remembering if you pretend like the story wasn't written in the English language or by someone with Western narrative sensibilities.
And... I think that's going to do it. Nothing is screaming at me to be written about, and honestly, while righteous indignation is fun, it's also exhausting. So I'm going to take a few weeks to gear up for next year's blog series, which will be something entirely different.
Happy 2023, y'all...
In CONSUMED WITH HATE, Kurt is revisiting media that he absolutely did not like one bit. See more posts.