The urban dictionary defines NERD RAGE as a term used to describe extreme anger, offence, indignation, and other similar emotions by a nerd, geek or similar which can be triggered upon seeing a favorite film/show/comic book/etc degraded or insulted in some way
As I sit down to write this, a little motion picture is 5 hours away from midnight premieres around the country. Maybe you’ve heard of it. Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises promises to close out, for better or worse, the epic trilogy that began in 2005 with Batman Begins. It is a highly anticipated film that is certain to make hundreds of millions of dollars across the globe. But is it any good?
Hell, I don’t know. I haven’t seen it. All I’ve got to go on is my gut and the smattering of reviews from press screenings I’ve read. There is no way in hell I wouldn’t catch this flick. I don’t care if some dude’s review told me that watching it would give me cancer. Everything gives you cancer. I’d still be there with bells on. Granted my attire would be a far stretch from the batshoes, batshirt, and batboxers I wore to Tim Burton’s Batman in 1989 but that’s a different story for a different day. My point is that some movies are simply review proof and the last of Nolan’s Bat-series is just such a film as far as I’m concerned.
Some people are not quite as forgiving when it comes to reviews though. Marshall Fine reviews for his website, Hollywood & Fine. He is a contributing reviewer to the movie review aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes and his was the first negative one for The Dark Knight Rises that was published on the site. It was followed almost immediately by a flood of hate filled vitriol from anonymous commenters that included actual threats of violence. Never mind that 99% of those commenting had not actually seen the film. He had dared to speak ill of their sacred cow, a crime punishable by death some felt. Rotten Tomatoes shut down their comment section and the bloodthirsty mob then flocked to Fine’s website, crashing that. Since the review was published, Mr. Fine’s site is back up and he’s seems to be handling the attention quite admirably.
This morning, over at Ain’t It Cool News, the self-professed ‘headgeek’ Harry Knowles published a scathing review of the film after leaving an Imax screening last night. Harry’s no stranger when it comes to ill-received reviews be they blisteringly negative or hyperbolical positive.
I dont’ really have any problem with Harry not liking the movie. He’s entitled to an opinion. I do however have a problem with Harry’s style of ‘reviewing.’ I question the method he uses to form his opinions, the motives behind those opinions, and the shockingly unprofessional manner in which he delivers them. So, I’ve come to view them for what they’re worth, an occassionally amusing often frustrating view into the mind of a…unique individual.
Others have not been as generous. AICN Talkbacks (their version of a message board) are often filled with disparaging comments aimed at Harry. Those insults are just as often balanced with actual considered retorts to the rotund redhead’s oft rambling rhetoric. The response to this review was no different. Many of the 500 (and growing) posts take great pains to crucify Harry and insult him on a personal level. There’s nothing constructive about them. At this point, I would imagine Harry’s got pretty thick skin. I doubt he’s too terribly upset by the reaction.
You know whose review I’m really looking forward to reading? Armond White.
White is a New York based film critic who has developed quite a following because of his contrarian views of movies. Chances are that if every other member of his ilk liked a film, he will loathe it. Chances are even more likely that if everyone hated it, he will praise it. He’s a very calculating man. I don’t take a damn thing he says seriously. But I sure as hell enjoy reading it. He will almost certainly hate this concluding chapter of the series. I can’t wait to see why.
So, what’s the point of all this then? Why even bother reading film review? The simple fact of the matter is that not one single reviewer is completely able to distance themselves from a film and judge it solely on its own merits. Every opinion of a movie is colored by any number of factors: the mood one was in while watching it, inevitable comparisons to other movies like it or previous films in a series, illness, fatigue, etc. That in and of itself does not invalidate the work of the many fine people who engage in the art. I love Roger Ebert. Love his reviews. But he is particularly hard on the horror genre which is a particular favorite of mine. I don’t let that diminish my respect for the man.
The value of considered and well written criticism is in the healthy discourse it encourages. When that discourse is disrupted by name calling and insults, there is no value to be found. And when there is no reason to engage in healthy debate for fear of such uncivility, well that’s something I don’t ever want to deal with.
I’m going to end up seeing The Dark Knight Rises by myself. Of my two best friends, one is completely ambivalent and the other pathologically hateful towards the previous two. I respect their opinions even though we often find ourselves rehashing the same points in regards to the movies. That’s OK. We’re friends. We can get away with saying things to each other that we never would to a stranger. I hope you have friends that you can have such discussions with and that if you ever find yourself on a message board itching to respond to something someone posted that you strongly disagree with that you can remember these four simple words: ‘Don’t be an asshole.’
Anyway, I’ve gotta bounce. I’m going to watch The Dark Knight to get geared up for my weekend viewing.
[Editor’s Note: This was written prior to the tragic events in Aurora, Colarado. Thoughts and sympathy are extended to those affected by this senseless violence]