Maintain the rage

I’ve noticed a funny thing over the past couple of weeks, and ended up becoming embroiled in it a little bit myself. The vast majority of reports I’ve read about Prometheus share my total incredulity at just how shit a film it is. Seriously, lots of people are quite rightly ranting about just how awful it is.

However, there are a lot of people out there who enjoyed it. I don’t really understand how anyone could enjoy such a flawed “story”, however pretty it looked, but there you go. It worked for them, so fair enough. Now here’s the funny thing: a lot of those people have started attacking those of us who hated it.

“Why can’t you leave us alone?” they ask.

“Why can’t you just let people like what they want to like?” they ask.

Well, you can like whatever you want. But I will be quite vocal about how I find that bloody weird and have no idea how a person finds enjoyment in it. Just like some people believe there’s a giant spirit daddy in the sky who cares about them. That kind of willful ignorance astounds me, but whatever floats your boat. Believe what you like.

However, just as it’s your right to claim enjoyment or belief in these things, it’s equally my right to exclaim my dislike of them and my astonishment that anyone could find them good/real/likeable, etc..

“It’s offensive,” people cry! “You shouldn’t offend people’s opinions.”

Why not? Their opinion offends me. Where’s the outcry about people offending me with their claim that Prometheus was a good film? (Well, actually, this is it, right here.) I find the film and its defenders offensive – not as people, but in that particular opinion. It doesn’t mean I hate everything about that person. The vast majority of these people are decent, intelligent, upstanding folk. But they have one particular view that I find nonsensical. If they’re allowed to freely state that view, why is it offensive for me to counter it?

You might have realised by now that I’m no fan of tolerance. Tolerance is a bollocks word, in my opinion (you’re free to disagree with me). Tolerance means tolerating something. Tolerating something means putting up with it, even though we disagree or don’t like it. It’s too often used as a shield against debate. We have to tolerate religious intrusions into secular life, for example, while we still speak out against them. We have to tolerate the idiocy of the lowest common denominator setting the bar for all of us. But tolerance is not the same as respect.

Yes, we’re all in this game of life together and we have to get along, so we do tolerate all those things and more, in as much as it’s everyone’s right to hold whatever view they choose and we can’t tell them to change. Nor can we force them to change, and people who use their view as an excuse to harm or oppress other people are fuckwits who are quite rightly villified. But “tolerance” doesn’t mean we have to agree. Nor does it mean we have to respect those views (and you don’t have to respect mine). It doesn’t mean we can’t speak out against them. Those people also have to tolerate our view too, which we can state as readily as they can.

Obviously, I believe in maintaining the rage (you’re free to believe otherwise and you’re free to tell me so). Without a righteous fury we’d be walked all over. It’s when people stand up and say, “Enough of this shit!” that things change.

I maintain my right to rage.

I maintain my right to expect quality.

I maintain my right to lament crappy stuff.

Let’s go back to the Prometheus thing, and the upset among people who enjoyed it. The upset is with the many being so vocal in lambasting it for being a terrible film. Sure, if you enjoyed it, that’s fine. But you enjoyed it despite all its flaws. You ignored the completely insane actions of the characters, the numerous plot holes, the completely nonsensical premise of the whole thing. You sat there and you enjoyed a $200 million senseless spectacle. Good for you. I’m glad you had a good time, I really am.

But I expect more – especially from someone with the credentials of Ridley Scott, playing in the well-loved Alien franchise. I can’t enjoy what was indeed a fantastic looking film when the characters are complete idiots. I can’t enjoy the incredible special effects when the “story” appears to have been vomited out by a drunken chimp. And I have every right to question the people who can enjoy it despite those things. I will defend to the death your right to your opinion, but I will still question it.

It’s not a character judgment. It’s not an insult to the core of your being. I’m not questioning your right to an opinion or your validity as a person. I’m questioning one particular position you maintain: How can you enjoy such a terrible story, regardless of how good it looks? And if your defence is simply, “Fuck it, I like to turn my brain off and enjoy a pretty movie” then okay. (But seriously, how do you do that!?)

However you do manage to enjoy it, don’t try to tell us it’s a good movie. Don’t try to tell us that the screwed up story and idiot characters don’t matter, or aren’t there. Don’t tell us we can’t lambast that shite and all who enjoy it for being a part of the problem. You’re still good people – we just disagree with you about this. We might disagree with you about other things too. Don’t get upset when we rage against the crap we endured while we expected something better. There’s far too much spectacle over substance in Hollywood, and I’m getting sick of it. Cut back a few dollars on the special effects budget and hire a good writer who will tell a kickass story. In the meantime, we’re going to be pissed off at the rubbish stories that keep getting peddled out.

It’s our right to rage against a terrible film and you have to tolerate that.

NB: I don’t claim to be a flawless, master storyteller, but I constantly strive to write good stories that make sense, with believable characters. If I write shit, I want you to tell me about it, so I can work on getting better.


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8 thoughts on “Maintain the rage

  1. Geez, Alan. You offended me by hating a movie! You bastard. 😉

    Clearly I have a sick sense of humour because all of the raging on both sides of the “issue” is just making me laugh my ass off and enjoy the movie more. And by enjoy I mean enjoy laughing at how awful it is. 🙂

  2. I find the whole debate quite entertaining, but I am still furious about how shit the film was. But at least we agree on that.

  3. What do you have against drunken chimps? Grudge Monkey won’t tolerate any of that shit.

    I still haven’t seen this movie and now have no intention of forking over my hard-earned to experience it at a cinema, but if or when I eventually do see it I intend to go in with that same tactics I employed before watching The Expendables: have a big feed and a couple of pints beforehand and chuckle my way through.

    I think surviving a crap movie is about having the right mindset going in. The Blade Runner DVD is always there as backup afterwards.

  4. Well, I’d seen a lot of negative comments before I went in, so my expectations were pretty low already and I was still insulted by the dumbness!

  5. Here’s another one for your consideration so –

    I think my friend Carol puts it best – just because there are interesting ideas referred to, doesn’t make this film interesting – ‘It’s not everybody gets a trophy day…You don’t get a pass because you thought ‘oh I’d like to think about the big questions, you actually have to succeed for me to give you a round of applause.’

  6. Prometheus has inspired that in heaps of people though — one of the podcasters I listen to spent about 25 mins ranting about all the plot holes in pretty much the same way as you did. Same for many, many blogs that I read. So there’s such a universe of Prometheus-hatred out there that anyone who’s offended at the idea of these rants will end up pearl-clutching their way to a breakdown.

    As for tolerance, those who overstretch it should look up the history — the original idea of historical toleration largely meant not killing or beating the shit out of people for the opinions they hold ( In which case, I for one think it’s a marvellous idea.

    The most annoying thing about the Prometheus defence is if it brings up suspension of disbelief. The reader’s willingness to suspend disbelief is not infinite and must be earned to an extent. It’s not the same thing as ignoring utterly stupid things or gargantuan plot holes or characters that don’t behave anything like characters. In fact, if I could suggest this to go on the podcast ideas list, since there’s always room for thoughtful discussion by authors about suspension of disbelief esp in genre fiction.

  7. Michael – you’re quite right about the original intentions of tolerance. I should have made mention of that more clearly in the post. But “tolerance” these days is used to gag dissent and I won’t stand for that.

    And Dave and I discussed character motivation in the latest ThrillerCast largely triggered by my ranting about Prometheus.

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