Today, ‘Watchmen,’ and ‘Attack Of The Show’

03.09.09 8 years ago 20 Comments


Well, if you’d like to see the appearance, you can.  It’s ready to embed, and it’s below for your viewing pleasure.  I can only ever watch about 11 seconds of myself on camera before I get up and run shrieking from the room, so I can’t really discuss the appearance itself.  I’ll say that the experience of doing this sort of thing remains just plain weird.  I like all the folks at G4.  Good group, and they’ve had me on frequently over the years to discuss things.  They even had me on to make the official announcement when I left Ain’t It Cool to come work here at HitFix.  When they call, if I’m available, I work it out.  I like to help them if I can.

Honestly, when they called to ask if I wanted to come in to talk about “Watchmen,” that’s all I needed to hear.  Sure.  Happy to do it.  It was only when they sent over a fact sheet that I realized what I’d committed to.  I didn’t realize David Poland was going to be on the show with me.  There was a moment where I reeeeeeeeeally debated not going.

[more after the jump]

I take great issue with the way David has categorized and portrayed my work over the years.  I think he’s been openly untrue when writing about me, and no matter how many times I’ve corrected him on certain factual things, he continues to sell his manufactured rap on me because, at this point, that’s what he does.  He’s dug his heels in, and no matter what, he’s never going to back off the things that make him wrong.  It’s been so personal for so long that I have a real problem with civility.  There are only so many times you can shake it off when someone writes very personal, very direct attacks on you and your character.  And sure enough, I found it uncomfortable to a huge degree to have to sit and wait for the appearance with Poland, and then even to have to small talk afterwards.  Overall, while we were on the air, I think all of that sort of went away, and I focused on just engaging in the conversation with Kevin. 

A few points.

I have a hard time being patient with talk about box-office, especially on this film.  I don’t care how much money the film makes, because there’s no sequel.  There’s no spin off.  There’s no nothing.  This was it.  Big weird arthouse superhero movie.  And they made it.  So no matter what, the movie exists, and the other longer cuts exist, and so that’s that.  What it earns would matter to me if I was getting a piece of it, or if I treated box-office like a statistic that means anything about either (A) the quality of a film or (B) people’s affection for that film.  And it’s not.  Box-office is about marketing and scheduling and luck.  That’s it.  The quality of a film and how people feel about that film… that’s time.  Only time can really shake out the way a film lives or dies, survives or fades.  Box-office doesn’t mean anything, which is why I don’t write about it and why I tune out most of what’s written about it.  I understand it… but I don’t care.

I hate film reviews or film reviewers that use the word “you” over and over in a review.  “You don’t care about these people.  You don’t care what happens to them.  You don’t engage emotionally.”  Really?  Is that an order?  Stop telling me what I’ll feel.  Stop telling me that my reaction is a given.  It’s not.  You may feel it is narcissistic to use the word “I” in a film review; I think it’s the other way around.  I review a film by expressing what my experience with it is and what my understanding of it is.  Whether that’s worth anything to you or not is up to you.  But when a reviewer uses “you” in a review, it’s like they’re telling you that they know better than you do, and here’s how you should feel… or you’re wrong.  It’s obnoxious.

I love when people throw around numbers that they’ve decided are real, and there’s just no budging them.  Talking about budgets is a sucker’s game, because I guarantee you that unless you got a number from someone in the actual accounting department, someone with an eye on the actual final total, most of the numbers you hear people discuss are fiction.  I wish we’d had longer to get into it, because I’d love to hear David Poland tell me, for the record, what “Watchmen” cost.  And “Terminator Salvation.”  And “Land of the Lost.”  And “Transformers 2.”  Because I guarantee his guesses, the numbers he’ll use when writing all of his “journalism” for the rest of the year, will be the same exact creative fiction, based on the guesswork and gossip of others, as the numbers he’ll attack and belittle when writing about his competitors.  David’s “Watchmen” budgets of $150 million and up are fantasy-land.  Even before the film was a legal hassle, the costs were pretty tightly controlled on the film, and one of the reasons it took forever to get someone to pull the trigger is because every single dollar was negotiated and fought for.  The fact that people think this film cost $150 million or more is a good sign for Snyder, who has the ability to make his films look like they cost more than they do.  I don’t write about budgets precisely because it’s like counting sand grains in the desert.  Everything’s in flux, and unless you have absolute control over those sand grains, it’s just empty effort.

And finally, I don’t believe the ultimate goal of all drama is to make me “care” about characters, and I don’t think the only benchmark of success in a story or a narrative is whether or not I identify with the people I’m watching.  I don’t care if I like anyone in a story… I just want to be interested.  Poland goes on and on about how “you don’t care about anyone,” but I still don’t see how that’s even an absolute negative.  So what?  I’m not really going to empathize with a godlike naked blue energy being, but I’m interested in him.  And that’s enough.  When did every critic in America become a lame development executive giving notes?  “Can you try to make his arc more dramatic so he’s more likable and we like him more?  Maybe have him do things people like.  That way they’ll like him.  I’d like that.”  Puh-leeeeze.

When Poland says that “Blade Runner” appealed to a lot more people than “Watchmen,” it’s a completely bizarre and incorrect thing to say.  At least “Watchmen” had a big first weekend.  “Blade Runner” was a movie that should have had that first big blast when it opened.  After all, here’s Han Solo and Indiana Jones, in his first big SF adventure movie away from those series, right?  And… it turns out… it’s a movie… about a mumbling guy with a bad haircut who lives in a city where it rains all the time and he gets his ass kicked by a bunch of girl robots for a while.  Then the bad guy dies.  The end.  And that didn’t even open.  That movie stiffed from day one.  That summer, “Blade Runner” and “The Thing” both died.  Just belly up.  And I’m sure people could have written articles on those Monday mornings after release, slamming the films, damning the studios for the choices to make them, second-guessing the filmmakers.  I’m sure it would have been easy.  But it also reduces the entire conversation about film to a tally sheet.

And that’s what I don’t like.  At all.

So I don’t think you can “win” an appearance like today’s.  I just know that I managed to not yell at David, and I think I made my points clearly, and I’m pretty sure they said the name of the site a couple of times.  So mission accomplished.

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