Thursday, July 17, 2014

another one

I'm posting this link not for the list of the author's favorite tv shows (which includes some favorites of mine as well as some I've never heard of), but for the opening two paragraphs, which are a fine justification for negative criticism.

I was intrigued by a passing reference to a book of movie criticism, "Hatchet Jobs, Dale Peck's showy (and smart) collection of pans."  I hadn't heard of this particular book, but I was aware that among Roger Ebert's many review collections were some just of his zero-star reviews.

The reason that intrigues me is that I remember the time a Tolkien scholar and Peter Jackson enthusiast named KT, in one of those desperate "shut up because I say so" moves, responded to my screed against Jackson's Lord of the Rings movies by hoping that such writings would quickly die out - they haven't - on the grounds that nobody's interested in reading negative reviews.  Her theory was that fans of the work in question won't want to read it being trashed, and people who don't like the work won't care about it.

That was one of the sillier arguments I'd ever read.  KT must come from some planet uninfested by those pesky irrational creatures called hu-mans.  Here on Earth, ruthless pans are very popular: some of Dorothy Parker's most famous quips take that form ("the gamut of emotions from A to B"; "Tonstant Weader fwowed up"), and Ebert's killer reviews are some of his most popular.  (Although I enjoyed watching Shyamalan's The Village, I think the last two paragraphs of Ebert's review are the classic of pans.)

I'm no Ebert and no Parker, nor even Dale Peck, but on my own level of achievement, my Jackson screed seems to have tickled some readers.

And it isn't even a review of the movies.  If it had been, it would have been, if not exactly positive, a lot less negative than what I wrote.  As I said in the piece, "I give Jackson an A on visuals and props, a B on the films as independent pieces of work divorced from the book," and fail him only on faithfulness to Tolkien's tone and spirit, which was my entire topic.  That the movies are profoundly unlike the book is something that KT, who defends this on the grounds that they had to make it different because it's a mooooovie, ought to be in agreement with me on, against those fans who consider the movies and book interchangeable.

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