The kinship fanboys feel with their films—I’m talking the people who wait breathlessly for 30 second trailers and all that—is almost cute until you remember that major studio films are far and away products first and works of creativity a distant, distant second. The Dark Knight Rises cost $250 million to make, a 66% increase from The Dark Knight, which itself grossed half a billion dollars, slightly more than the GDP of American Somoa. When studios are tossing about the yearly production of small nations, the resulting films are much more units of late capitalism than they are acts of expression, no matter how dark Christopher Nolan is.
So when the fanboys mobilize to attack a critic who dares write a bad review, their nasty, unrelenting salvos (in this case, including death threats) come to seem less like the actions of a group committed to auteur expression and more like those of unwitting capitalist foot soldiers. “Hey you—unhand that $250 million film!”
See you now the ballad of Marshall Fine, whose site crashed today because he posted the world’s first bad review of the Dark Knight Rises. The reaction to his review has been so bad that Rotten Tomatoes has pulled the review and disabled comments. Keep in mind, 99% of these people commenting haven’t actually seen the movie yet. They’re rushing to the defense of a film that cost exponentially more than they and everybody they know will make in their lifetimes combined—and cost that in the midst of the worst recession in generations—and they don’t even know what they’re defending. (
It’s as if some superstructure is replicating ideology through culture!)
There’s something noxious about a film franchise getting to increase its budget by 2/3 while state legislatures everywhere are cutting social services. I’m not saying “We should take DKR’s budget and give it to a fire department.” What I’m saying is that spending would reflect priorities more if our discourse reflected them more, if we circled the wagons around the vitality of civil society with the same intensity as we did the seventh Batman movie of the past 30 years. Instead, we have the limitless energies of intelligent, connected, culturally-savvy young people attacking a critic who probably makes $45K a year in defense of a movie that cost 556 years’ worth of his salary, and will make twice that. Shouldn’t it be the other way around?
Full disclosure: I will see DKR and most likely enjoy it.
Addendum: Reverse Troll! Eric Snider posted this to Rotten Tomatoes, from which he was subsequently banned: