An Open Letter to Critics

Everyone is entitled to their opinion.  The whole point of an opinion is that it can’t inherently be wrong.  Your opinion is correct to you.  My opinion is correct to me.

The greatest part is that we can disagree and be civil and have awesome discussions.

That being said- the recent ratings with Suicide Squad have made me realize something: people have their expectations way too high.  I know that systems like Rotton Tomatoes are kinda biased and I shouldn’t treat them as the final grade on my term paper, but it is a good frame of reference.

I want to bring it up because I feel like its a good example of critics being- well uh- too critical.

It’s their job to critique things, and even though I don’t have a prevalent voice on the web, I understand that it is easy to write about things that are bad and its more difficult to write about things that are good.

This, I feel, causes critics to slant everything in a bad way.

Read this:

Suicide Squad is bad. Not fun bad. Not redeemable bad. Not the kind of bad that is the unfortunate result of artists honorably striving for something ambitious and falling short. Suicide Squad is just bad. It’s ugly and boring, a toxic combination that means the film’s highly fetishized violence doesn’t even have the exciting tingle of the wicked or the taboo. (Oh, how the movie wants to be both of those things.) It’s simply a dull chore steeped in flaccid machismo, a shapeless, poorly edited trudge that adds some mildly appalling sexism and even a soupçon of racism to its abundant, hideously timed gun worship. But, perhaps worst of all,Suicide Squad is ultimately too shoddy and forgettable to even register as revolting. At least revolting would have been something.

-Vanity Fair

That’s a single paragraph from Vanity Fair.  Now, if you haven’t seen Suicide Squad, that’s gonna sound fucking vicious.  Vanity Fair just pimp slapped that movie while it was sleeping.  The reason, I believe, that they released this review August 2nd (3 days before the movie was out to the public) was because the movie wasn’t terrible at all.  The movie was pretty good.

This isn’t going to end up being a review of Suicide Squad but for those are curious on my opinoin: the movie was perfectly fine, had a few good moments, had a few things that I probably would change.  It was a great, middle of the road, enjoyable movie.  I’ll probably buy it when it comes out!

The reason I personally give it that rating is because I don’t think the movie was trying to be anything more.  It knew what it was aiming for.  It knew it was going to be a summer blockbuster with some recognizable DC characters, and wasn’t trying to change the game.


Some people take games way too seriously.

And that’s what I wanna clumsily segue into: it’s fine for movies to aim for a passing grade.  Think back to the 90’s.  Think of those fun movies you remember that weren’t trying to get Oscars, Emmys, Academy Awards, Goldon Globes, Graham Crackers, or whatever other arbitrary awards we give to stuff.

Think about movies like Rush Hour, Liar Liar, Fifth Element, Hook, and Shanghai Noon;  there are tons more.  Those movies are pretty fucking awesome, but I believe we can all agree that they definitely aren’t going to win awards.  We had fun watching them.  They told their story and that’s about that.

Starting in the mid 2000’s we had a very important thing happen: the Harry Potter movies started coming out.  They were a crazy grand slam that made their studio a ton of money.  And it fucking brought in money for years after the first one because there were seven fucking books.


The Boy Who Lived Large.

This set a precedent for having long sagas of movies and also for having a money making formula.  If a movie couldn’t cash fucking checks was a failure, even if it made its money back.  The hype had to be real.  More and more trailers were being released for stuff and they were trying to make sure that movies were highly anticipated.

This changed the formula.  Movies had to be carefully planned hits.  Carefully planned media presence and rushed trailers.  Everyone was trying to be the next huge series.  Which was bad for many reasons.  Everyone started holding everything to a really high standard.  And we lost sight of the middle ground movies that didn’t want to try and be a huge blockbuster hit.

But, but- movies have to make their money goddammit.  Wait- we aren’t sure it will?  Cut the finale into two parts.

When we grade everything on some crazy gold standard we become unfair to anything not competing for the gold.  Critics grade even harsher because they can use fancy words.

It’s simply a dull chore steeped in flaccid machismo, a shapeless, poorly edited trudge that adds some mildly appalling sexism and even a soupçon of racism to its abundant, hideously timed gun worship.

The fuck is a soupçon?


The movies that want to continue having film be a storytelling device get low scores because they didn’t want to kill themselves building space mansions out of money. Think about movies like The Boondock Saints, A Night at the Roxbury, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013), and Waiting.  These movies were telling simple stories with a handful of characters.  They didn’t have massive effects budgets and weren’t trying to blow minds.  They were aiming for their target, not the moon.

So why do they grade them like they were trying to?



Notice the audience scores.


So, to any critics who are reading this for some absurd reason: when you take the time to write your review, I implore you to think about what the movie is trying to do.  We separate our Olympics by gender, size, style, and difficulty- but we hold all movies to the same standard?

I’m not trying to say that those movies deserve A+ for aiming for the middle, but the gap between what critics think and what audiences think seem to be weirdly far apart.  Yes, you may be grading it against a guide that you learned about in Critic School (the comment section on Youtube) but they all can’t be the greatest.

Small studios can do amazing things, but its hard for all of them to trying to be the best like no one ever was.  We are able to appreciate the grandeur that some movies go for because we have middle ground movies to base it against.  I love the Rush Hour movies, but they can’t be held up against Mad Max.  Waiting is a pretty funny movie, but I can’t possibly say its on the same level as Tropic Thunder.

Mad Max Tropic thunder

I just had the greatest idea.


Don’t Feel Guilty for your Hobbies

Work trips might be fun, but they completely throw you off your game when you get back. The one and only time I’ve missed a blog post was because of my work trip to Seattle. I almost did the same thing today after getting back from Virginia. Work trips, man.

Thankfully, I basically wrote my post on the flight between Seattle and Pullman. Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about the term guilty pleasure and why it bothers me so much. For those of you who don’t know, according to Wikipedia a guilty pleasure is “something, such as a movie, television program, or piece of music, that one enjoys despite feeling that it is not generally held in high regard.”

Can you see why this phrase bothers me? No? Okay, let me explain. 

Generally, we use the phrase guilty pleasure in situations where we’re talking about our hobbies, but don’t want to be judged for them. An example of one of my many guilty pleasures would be Taylor Swift’s album 1989. Those songs are just too darn catchy.

But, wait. Daniel, you’re probably thinking “Emily, that’s not a guilty pleasure! I like her songs, too! I would never judge you for that!” However, there are a lot of people who would judge me for it. She’s too girly, too mainstream, too poppy.

And that is exactly why I hate the term guilty pleasure. Basically, it’s a label we use to police ourselves based on what other people think. When we use the term guilty pleasure, we’re saying “I know you’ll judge me for this, so I’m going to invalidate my own likes and dislikes so I can stay your friend because you’re a judgmental jerk.”

I have been trying to remove the term guilty pleasure from my vocabulary. At the risk of sounding dramatic, as I find my way in this world I’ve realized I need to start being honest with myself and be more comfortable with who I am. Yes, my friend might judge me for listening to Ke$ha while I run, but that doesn’t mean I should make myself feel bad for it. As long as I’m not hurting anyone or doing something out right illegal, no one should care what I listen to when I’m exercising or watching while laying in bed on a Friday night. I’m still a cool person and my pleasures are a part of that. I need to stop being a judgmental jerk to myself.

I’ve also been trying to be less of a judgmental jerk to other people. My biggest sin in that regard is beer. I am so bad about judging people I see in the beer cooler, buying Bud Light or Coors. Does it affect me? Nope. Should I care? Absolutely not. They obviously like Bud Light and their taste in beer doesn’t dictate their entire personality. This person could be very awesome and I’m automatically throwing up a wall by being so judgmental.

You do you, stranger in the beer cooler. I’ll do me and try to ignore the people who are judging me for my choice of beer. My beer can be way too expensive, way too strong, and way too hipster, but it’s what I like. I’m not going to preface my love of fancy beer with, “Well, this stout is my guilty pleasure…” so I’m not going to make anyone else do that either.

Well, there’s my rant. I love painting my nails, trying new lipsticks, watching Roseanne reruns, watching B-flick horror films, and listening to auto-tuned pop songs, and I don’t feel at all guilty.

Sorry for my late post. At least this time I avoided a punishment.