Well, another DC movie, another outcry from its fans over negative reviews
Guys, its time to have a little talk about critics.
By Sam Jones
So, in case you haven’t already heard, the latest offering in the DC Cinematic Universe, the much-anticipated Suicide Squad, has not exactly been lavished with praise. Of course, DC’s stalwart fans aren’t taking overly well to their preferred choice of superhero material’s latest lambasting at the hands of critics, and have apparently started a petition to get Rotten Tomatoes shut down.
No really, that was a thing that happened. I say “happened” past-tense because the petition has supposedly achieved its goal- which was to gain notoriety and bring to the attention of the mainstream certain fans’ dissatisfaction with Suicide Squad’s critical savaging, and has shut down having racked up close to 18000 signatures. I’m not going to even delve into the inherent nonsensical nature of making a review aggregator (in no way responsible for the negative reviews itself) the apparent poster child of this supposedly harsh and unfair critical reception.
This particular brand of backlash always fascinates me because it brings the ages-old narrative to the fore of critics being set out against the general movie-going audience: yes, we critic types do what we do with the sole intent of ruining everything for everyone, apparently. Oftentimes even filmmakers scorned by negative reviews like to get in on the “critics are joyless slime-piles” fun: just ask Alex Proyas, or Kevin Smith.
Look, I’m far from the guy who should be the flag-bearer for critics everywhere, and I wouldn’t dare claim to be, but with this latest petulant outburst of persecution complex fan outrage, I feel the need to say something, so I will just say this:
Critics don’t hate you, and they don’t hate what you like because they want to hurt you. Critics just want to help you.
Like really, that’s the whole point of the job in a lot of ways: critics exist because sometimes people want an opinion on a piece of art or entertainment from a voice that can be regarded as, on some level, more informed or educated, with the ultimate intent of determining whether something is worth their time or not. Scathing though they can sometimes be, negative reviews are intended to inform an audience, not insult them, just as much as a positive review is. This idea that critics and the audience are in binary opposition is just ludicrous and ultimately harmful to both parties: critics want the same things the audience wants, and that’s to see/read/play/ whatever something good, and they’ll tell if they thought it was worth it or not because they want you to get the most you can out of something, no matter what that is.
And if you’ve ever felt insulted or offended by a critic saying something you really liked was bad, or conversely, saying something you really hated was good; well, no offense, but that’s your problem, not the critic’s. If you are so wrapped up in a film, a book, a video game, an album or whatever else that you feel anything said against it or for it that opposes your own opinion of it is a personal attack against your character, then you really need to take a step back from yourself and consider the possibility that you’re allowing a piece of media to define you far too much than it should. That’s not to say you shouldn’t be a fan of things, or be enthusiastic or passionate about them, but don’t allow them to consume you to the point that they define you.
Also (and this is very important) a critic’s opinion, no matter how well-informed, educated, or otherwise, is still just an opinion. You are more than welcome to disagree with it, or ignore it, or do whatever you want with it: again, that’s part and parcel of criticism. In fact, the beauty of art, in its many forms, is its ability to speak to all of us on different levels: something that draws out one reaction from someone can garner a completely different reaction from someone else. No matter what a critic says, however, they can’t stop you from enjoying something if you really do enjoy it.
Anyway, I feel like I’ve said as much as I can say on this (for now), so I will close simply by saying this: the world’s a pretty terrible place right now, and 2016 thus far as been a banner year for truly awful shit. There’s a lot of things out there that are worthy of outrage and petitions: another DC movie that’s getting blah reviews is definitely not one of them, and neither are the critics handing them out.