It’s OK That There’s A ‘La La Land’ Backlash

On Sunday night, in between Meryl Streep’s impassioned speech about treating others with dignity and Tom Hiddleston’s announcement that people in South Sudan love his TV show (honestly, I’m at least trying to assume Hiddleston was trying to be sincere and just missed the mark, but this might be my favorite speech in any awards show ever because it was the perfect encapsulation of a supposedly meaningful, but self-congratulatory “awards show speech”; drop this baby in a parody film verbatim and it will be hilarious), the movie La La Land won a lot of Golden Globes. Seven, in fact – which set a Golden Globe record for the most ever won on one evening. This led to a lot of people in my Twitter feed being very unhappy about this.

It’s hard to not find this at least a little bit annoying at first. In a world, right now, where people are desperately looking for any little thing to grasp onto to “like” – something that actually makes them feel happy – it seems a little much to go on an all out war against it. “Oh, This Movie Makes You Happy? Well, Fuck You, Here’s Why You’re An Idiot.” (I may be wrong, but I think that’s an actual title somewhere.) Yes, a lot of it’s a bit strong considering we’re talking about a movie here, but I’ve decided I’m okay with it. In the end it’s nothing personal, it’s just The Frontrunner. This is what we do to frontrunners.

I have few friends who cover culture and who also like sports. My friends who don’t like sports bemoan “the fan” attitude toward these “games,” but then act completely the same when it comes to defending his or her favorite movie. If I took all the tweets in my feed that mentioned the New England Patriots, then switched the team name with “La La Land,” and vice versa, they would still make perfect sense.

Here’s one:

This could easily read, “Patriots aren’t a perfect team but it deserved its wins. The online griping is nauseating.”

Why do sports fanes who aren’t Patriots fans hate the Patriots? Okay, yes, there are a few reasons, but the main one is because they are the best team and they have a movie star-looking quarterback. People like hating frontrunners! This is the way we are. It all starts to have nothing to do with the movie and everything to do with the competition. Humans are competitive. And whether people realize it or not, rooting for a movie to win an award makes about as much sense as rooting for a sports team – but it’s fun to do!

La La Land was supposed to come out in July. Isn’t that weird? It was going to be a “summer movie.” Would there be backlash against La La Land if it had came out in July and offered some respite to what was a pretty dismal summer movie season? Instead, someone at Lionsgate decided (probably correctly), “Oh, you know, if we release this later in the year we might win Best Picture.” The La La Land began its festival rollout and became “the darling.” It’s nice to be “the darling.” It’s also nice to the “the frontrunner,” but that’s when the knives come out. They always come out.

(As an aside, as a lifelong St. Louis Cardinals fan, I remember being shocked when people started hating the Cardinals. We had always been the beloved teams with Ozzie Smith and Willie McGee, how could anyone hate the Cardinals? We aren’t like the Yankees! But when a team makes the playoffs a lot of years in a row, people will start to hate teams that do that. It’s normal. I’m still shocked though. But I also think it’s dumb you root for the Mets, or whatever other team you root for. You should root for the Cardinals because its the team I like and support.)

What was the last frontrunning movie not to get backlash? Certainly every movie that’s won Best Picture this decade has received backlash. Have you watched Argo recently? It’s good! And it’s certainly not a movie you’d probably ever expect people to get mad about, but people did. It always happens. (Even 12 Years a Slave, which was the epitome of “this movie is the frontrunner so I guess we have to find something negative to say.”)

I love La La Land. I also love Moonlight. I think I’m like most people. Most people like both. But once you tell someone that only one can win an award (except for the Golden Globes because they both won; it’s nice) the inner sports fan in every movie lover comes out. People get personal. People get nasty. People are in it to win for their team. And this is all fine. In life right now, everything is definitely not going to be okay. It’s going to be really bad. But as far as our favorite movies? Yes, it will be fine. They will all be fine.

You can contact Mike Ryan directly on Twitter.