Monday, November 23, 1998

Week of 11/23/1998

There’s Something About Critics
- by David Matthews 2

There was a movie out in the theatres this summer called "There’s Something About Mary." The story was almost irrelevant to the amount of humor that exists while poking fun at the human anatomy in various and rather obnoxious ways.

Personally, it’s not a movie I would want to watch in the theatres. Not because I don’t think it’s funny, but simply because the studio’s constant playing of their commercials that made me sick to my stomach.

Still, the movie brought in plenty of box office money to 20th Century Fox, and you can’t deny it was a sleeper hit. But it was a hit that was much in denial with the one group Hollywood relies on almost as much as the box office receipts - the critics.

Critics moaned at some of the outrageous humor of the movie, suggesting that the movie was just typical of this generation’s trash-talking attitudes towards life. How shallow they’ve become, or have they already forgot about a certain movie called "National Lampoon’s Animal House?" What "Mary" inadvertently put in her hair is almost as sick as Flounder doing pushups face-first in horse fertilizer!

Still, there’s something to be said about critics - they are at times the hardest of groups to please.

I say that from experience. When you boil off the colorful rhetoric and the lighthearted humorous banters, you’ll find I’m nothing more than just a critic of society and of politics in particular. Members of the online Playboy Mailing List also know me as a critic of CD-ROM programs and quite recently into videos. So yes, I am a critic as well.

As a critic, then, I find it incredibly hard for me at times to sit down and read some of the works of my brethren.

The hardest especially has to be the film critics. You know, there are many film critics who seem to use "Gone With The Wind" as their measuring stick to judge any film. Big budgeted movies with lots of dialogue, emotion, a sanitized view of sex and violence, and family values that only a Republican member of Congress would love, seem to be the only films these critics appreciate.

Mind you, what the critics love are okay movies, if you like long and boring presentations that seem to drag on and on. Unfortunately, they created an incentive for these snoozer flicks - the Academy Awards. I mean, let’s face it - the Academy Awards weren’t created to celebrate the movies that the people liked; they’re there to encourage people to see these long and boring presentations, because otherwise they’ll be held to public standards that their own intellectual minds could not handle.

Fortunately, most people don’t go to see long and boring presentations. Some folks want action, others want horror, and others want slapstick comedy that will blow their freaking minds. But that doesn’t matter to many a film critic because in their minds, these movies are no worse than the Grade-Z straight-to-video movies that are made.

An equally annoying trend is coming from my brethren social critics like Rush Limbaugh, who look at movies and try to compare them to our sitting president. I don’t know about you, but the only movie that mirrors Bill Clinton’s life is "Primary Colors." Instead, however, Limbaugh bemoans movies like "Independence Day" and "An American President" as being pro-Clinton propaganda simply because they feature presidents who aren’t old enough to qualify for AARP benefits. Perhaps "An American President" could be seen in that light to people like Limbaugh, because the antagonist in that movie was a conservative who was running for higher office and preyed on the incumbent’s liberal past. But the automatic assumption that ANY film that features a president who appears to be young enough to remember his last night of sex to be nothing more than a propaganda push for the current Gigolo-in-Chief is pushing it.

The latest critic comes from Steven Brill, the creator of Court TV. His latest creation is the publication "Brill’s Content," which takes a look into the media itself. His publication started in a sensational manner by questioning the leaks made by Judge Kenneth Starr and the Office of Independent Council investigating the Clinton Administration. It ruffled feathers not only amongst the OIC and Congress, but also in the media, and perhaps rightly so.

Critics do serve a purpose in society in that they keep society on their toes. They question the course of human events, and in some cases bring change to those events. Critics serve as that last vestige against complete complicity by a society to one singular idea.

It’s important to remember, however, that critics are, by nature, hard to please. Trying to placate every critic is impossible. Even trying to placate most of them is a challenge. But they should not be completely ignored either.

Abraham Lincoln said it best when he said that you cannot fool all of the people all of the time. That’s why there are critics.

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