John Ostrander: We Eat Our Own
A recent Internet brouhaha occurred when some feminists attacked Joss Whedon after the opening of Avengers: Age of Ultron claiming he was a misogynist, etc, for his portrayal of Black Widow in the movie. I haven’t seen the movie yet – I may be one of a handful in the world who hasn’t – so I can’t comment on it although given Whedon’s track record, I am skeptical.
When Whedon closed his Twitter account, the Internet went crazy and charged he was chased off by “militant feminists.” Again, I was skeptical. Whedon himself later stated “I just thought, Wait a minute, if I’m going to start writing again, I have to go to the quiet place, and this is the least quiet place I’ve ever been in my life.” That’s true of the Internet in general, by the way. A great tool but also a great temptation for wasting time.
This practice of attacking our own is not new. Will Smith playing Deadshot in the upcoming Suicide Squad movie, has been attacked by some as being too lightweight for such a stoic badass character. This ignores the work he did in such films as The Pursuit of Happyness or the minor role he had playing the devil in Winter’s Tale. Serious characters, well played.
Ben Affleck as Batman/Bruce Wayne in the upcoming Superman vs. Batman: Dawn of Justice? According to sections of fandom, heresy! They said the same thing about Michael Keaton waaaay back before his first Batman film. When I was writing GrimJack at First Comics, we got a letter from someone who said I should leave the book and let other writers do the character because I wasn’t up to this letterhack’s standards. That may explain a certain lack of sympathy I have for these type of fans.
It’s not everyone in fandom. They can, however, be a vocal segment of fandom. Often an angry and strident voice in fandom. They seem to have (or think they have) a Fan Early Warning system (or F.E.W.s), a sort of Spidey-Sense that starts tingling when they sense something wrong (especially in casting) in an upcoming project, especially film. There is a certainty that they are right, a vitriol that accompanies the attack, and an unwillingness to hear any other point of view. It isn’t what they wanted, it isn’t how they would do it, it’s not how they see it and so it is wrong. No debate, end of story.
Does it matter? It is a small minority, after all. A small, strident minority that can be heard over the din of the crowd. That’s part of the problem with this country today – minority voices stridently decrying what they think is wrong and refusing to listen to any other opinion because, you know, that would be compromising their principles. You can’t just agree with them; you have to agree wholeheartedly and for the right reasons. You have to share the same religion; you have to drink the same flavor of Kool-Aid.
Everyone has a right to their own opinion but it is often formed without actually seeing the work. The dissident fans haven’t seen any footage of Will Smith as Deadshot, yet they already know he is wrong. Their proof that Ben Affleck will suck as Batman? His performance in Daredevil. (He has also performed in other films since then, including a fine turn as George Reeve in Hollywoodland .)
Negative comments can create a negative image of a given work, especially movies, before it’s seen. The “buzz” can affect how a film is perceived and received. It can affect the box office. That, in Hollywood, is serious.
It’s not hard to be heard these days. Is it too much to ask to consider what is being said? To think before you speak?
What am I saying? This is the Internet. Of course it is.