Usually when you see a video by modern mythology teacher and comic creator Michael “Professor Geek” Critzer here at the Spotlight it’s something we agree or mostly agree on. However, no two people agree on every matter and here’s one we don’t agree on. (I’m sure that will make one recurring commenter happy since he’s posted how much he lost interest in Professor Geek in two of the last three videos I’ve posted from his channel.)
For example, as much as I’m not a fan of the Star Wars sequel trilogy (I still haven’t seen Rise Of Skywalker as of this writing but it’s the one movie classic era and Kathleen Kennedy era fans agree on…that it was terrible, but for different reasons) I don’t want a reboot and ignoring the movies means ignoring the last performance we can get from the late Carrie Fisher as well as Peter Mayhew in at least one of the films. Also, I’m rather sick of reboots and re-imaginings in general, but Star Trek got along just fine without a reboot until J.J. Abrams came along, DC has both soft and hard reboots of their universe every few years to the point where I know one guy who figures “if they don’t care, why should I”, and Marvel recently did it with their nth comic called Secret Wars. So far the only classics not rebooted but still putting material out officially are Doctor Who, Sesame Street, and the four remaining soap operas on television. Anything not rebooted probably hasn’t put out new material in years or starts with NCIS, Law & Order, or CSI. Killing continuity is already an issue, why make it worse?
However, the subject we’re disagreeing on for this article is a recent commentary, “Stop Watching And Reviewing Garbage”. In it he makes a good case for not giving these shows more exposure. It did convince me not to go over the live-action She-Ra that Amazon just announced (though they’ve been talking live-action He-Man for the past few years) despite being a culmination of two different commentaries I posted last week. However, to say we in the reviewing circles should never discuss this I don’t quite agree with…and it’s not to promote hate clicks. My host is the only one making money off of this site so it doesn’t help me at all. On the other hand he’s not completely wrong about what he says in the video either. Watch it below, and then I’ll explain.
Watch more Professor Geek commentaries on his YouTube channel.
When it comes to “trash talk” it’s not the only thing that affects whether or not I watch something any more than the defenders. Granted I do want to see Rise Of Skywalker with my friends out of a sense of tradition we developed since the Special Editions and the past few years have relegated that to home video. In that area I may be part of the problem. That said, when I watch or listen or read a review what they defend may actually turn me off while what they trash I may end up thinking sounds great. There are certain people whose opinion I at least respect enough to listen. I just watched Dannphan on YouTube do a three part trashing of I Am Starfire and I’m satisfied I want nothing to do with it. So yes, she did read so I didn’t have to. Then again, I wasn’t planning to.
Admittedly there are shows I’ve only watched because I’m doing reviews for this site. That’s the only reason to make myself sit through Netflix and Dreamworks trashing of He-Man and She-Ra, which if I ever get that review series off the ground I will eventually have to do. I still haven’t brought myself to watch Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Snyder’s Injustice To DC’s Legacy but if I do it’s only to review it. Frankly there are plenty of reviews who probably did a better job of explaining why the movie is terrible than I can do, and I still have no interest in watching any of the other DCEU or even some of the MCU movies. For examples:
Shazam! is following Geoff Johns’ re-imagining of the character rather than the classic original Captain Marvel. Aquaman doesn’t really interest me and Wonder Woman 1984 showing up on my screen will be more about morbid curiosity than anything else and probably a review. What they did with Steve Trevor and the poor guy whose body he takes over is already enough to make me question the “hero” of this superhero movie. It’s the same case with the other Captain Marvel over at Marvel and I have no interest in the Thor movies, not even the ones people like. I still may end up not watching those movies since by now it’s too late to really do a decent review. I’m on the fence with Guardians Of The Galaxy but I’m definitely off the fence and running for the hills with Suicide Squad,
Harley Quinn’s Margot Robbie’s Big Ego guest-starring people pretending to be the Birds Of Prey and ruining Cassandra Cain (it’s not that much longer than the actual title…there’s anime with shorter titles) or anything involving Marvel and “Civil War”. I’m not even sure I’m that invested in the Spider-Man movies thanks to Sony forcing Marvel Studios to strip as much iconography out as possible so the last two Avengers movies may be it for me and the MCU.
One thing I do agree with Critzer on is that you don’t have to watch something you already think is garbage. Many of Critzer’s complaints in other commentaries come from the poor treatment of modern mythological heroes in science fiction and superheroes that have been around longer than any of the people who think they can do it better, aka play to their interests because they’re part of the everything for meeeeeeeeeeeeeee crowd and will take things not made for them, turn it into something that is only made for them, and then think they have the high ground by proclaiming “it wasn’t made for you”…which is a huge example of missing the point. If you see a review that shows they actually got the lore, the characters, and other important aspects of multiversal continuity while still having some decent wiggle room, then fine. Critzer loves Richard Donner’s Superman the movie but while I have a few issues with it I do agree the core of Superman and his cast is still there…though frankly Luthor’s debatable based on his depiction in the comics at the time.
So if simply reviewing the garbage being done to childhood favorites and inspirations does in the end benefit the studios with “free advertising”, and we reviewers have noted that bad reviews may draw people to see a work as a defense against studios violating first amendment and fair use laws considering these discussions, is he right that we shouldn’t do it? Here’s the response I put in the comments of his video.
You may consider this a cop out as well, but when I write my reviews for bad stuff, it’s finding what worked, what didn’t, and trying to replace what didn’t with what would have. You can have a good story and a good adaptation. If we can reach the next group of writers and convince them they’d have MORE readers/viewers by making the character faithful and the stories good, or at least have the guts to take an original idea and believe in your concept enough to not make it a not-stalgic re-imagining but its own thing then at least something good can come from this.
I have no interest in discussing Voltron: Legendary Defender but (and I’ve been trying to do a review series of the He-Man/She-Ra cartoons since before DreamWorks announced Battle Princesses…I mean She-Ra And The Princesses Of Power) if I can use their failings as a sort of teaching tool, if only for myself since I do reviews to get my head around this stuff and make myself a better storyteller, then maybe something good can eventually come out of the sludge.
That right there is my defense. The producers and investors don’t seem to care about storytelling, which is bad business given that’s what they’re in the business of. Social ideologues aside (because they don’t care and make up a large chunk of the “everything for meeeeeeeeeeeeee” crowd) all the studios look at are the results. Marketers don’t care so long as they get butts in seats and dollars in their bosses pockets. We’ve seen trailers ruin key moments, great gags, surprise twists, and important moments so that when we go to the theater or turn on our televisions and computers we end up disappointed. The smart thing to do would be to look at these reactions to ensure the sequel or the next season brought them back, but as long as the opening night numbers are in the top two or three they really don’t care. If something fails they don’t look at why. They just assume we don’t want it and something that could have been good fails to improve. Making reviews for or against them is a waste of time because they won’t see it or care. They’ll just find a way to avoid criticism by calling people racists, sexists, homophobes, or whatever gets the usual suspects to rush to their defense even if they haven’t seen it. It’s yet another area where Hollywood plays to itself, and I’ve shown time and again how little they care about comics and animation.
The insular Hollywood system and their big fat egos don’t care so who are we reviewing these for? Well, most of my reviews are for myself, to see what good stories do wrong and bad stories do right in the hopes of getting things as right as possible. Sometimes you do slip or have to accept something stupid or convenient for the sake of the story or the joke. It may be something that only makes sense to the character and that’s fine, or only makes sense to the screenwriter and director and that’s bad. The goal then is to rally like-minded people to build a defense against the usual suspects, the insular Hollywood system, the media snobs, and to hopefully reach the next generation of creators and say “here’s their stated goal, and if it’s yours here’s how you could have done it right”.
We can promote having more faith in original ideas to not co-opt an existing property. We can show that you can do a good adaptation while reaching casual and previously non-fans who would be interested in this product, while you can’t chase the mythical “wider audience” if that audience wouldn’t care anyway. You can’t play to the cool kids and we need to talk the future storytellers out of that nonsense and to make better adaptations in the future. And we can push back against the media snob and the “ist” brigade to promote better storytelling. There’s a reason my daily comic review includes a “got right” and “got wrong” section, and why I promote Cinema Sins as a good show, even though they themselves claim to not be a review channel despite the rantings of their critics. You can’t ignore the bad if you want future and even current writers and other creators to avoid those mistakes as much as possible, though I’m all in favor of promoting stuff that’s done well. I do it a lot on this site, and Saturday Night Showcase exists specifically to do so. I’m just limited by what videos I can host, while daily features like Internet Spotlight points to comics and websites worth looking into.
The trick to a good negative review isn’t to play to the hate clickers and people looking to see something they hate trashed. I’d rather find people defending something I like that is usually trashed, or just people defending things I like in general. Professor Geek has been releasing reviews of the various animated Superman shows and that’s a good thing. However, if you take the time to do a reasoned review of something bad, explain WHY it’s bad, and offer ways to do it better (admitting your own biases to yourself and the audience–I certainly try to) plus promoting other, better alternatives then with luck the next creators will learn from their predecessor’s mistakes and do it better next time. Those who don’t remember their history are doomed to repeat it, but right now we’re living during that history. Making it better should be our goal. We won’t reach the Hollywood types but if we reach the creators of tomorrow then the goal of someone fixing this, even if it does require a reboot, become a lot more likely.