Thursday, March 9, 2006

A High-Energy Roller Coaster Ride of a Post... This Is Definitely A Post For The Ages!

I was recently inspired by the story of one Earl Dittman to use my writing talents for lucrative evil. Earl Dittman claims to be a film critic for something called "Wireless Magazines," and although you've never heard of him or his publication, you've definitely read his work. Whenever a movie studio (in particular, Paramount) can't find a critic with integrity to provide some glib, consumer-friendly praise chock-full of superfluous exclamation points and hyperbole for their latest abysmal tripe, they turn to Dittman. Dittman doesn't have bad taste so much as he has zero taste whatsoever; he simply loves whatever pablum the entertainment industry shoves down his throat. Doesn't matter if it's Citizen Kane or Catwoman ("100% pure fun and excitement! Berry's performance is sensational. Catwoman is eye-popping."), Dittman would give every movie an Oscar just for showing up if he could.

I figure there's no reason the Dittmans and Harry Knowleses and Rex Reeds of the world should hold a monopoly on vapid, non-communicative film criticism. I'm perfectly fine with Gene Shalit, however, holding a monopoly on white-boy afros, bowties, suspenders, and throwing puns into his reviews as if his audience is still nine years old. Here's a call out to Warner Brothers and Disney and all the other studios (all four of them): I'll write your quote blurbs for a quarter of what Dittman's charging. Look, I'll do a few examples. "Firewall is a non-stop thrill ride from start to finish! ...This is Harrison Ford's best performance since Indiana Jones!" Or how about this one? "Hilarious! Kristen Davis fills the screen with joy! The Shaggy Dog is Tim Allen's best performance ever!" See Studios, you can have those for free. No money down, no press junkets, no having dinner with the stars, no strings attached.

I don't even have to see the movies. Like, I wouldn't watch Firewall if TNT branded it a "new classic" and showed it for free every night this weekend, but I bet I'm not wrong about this being Ford's best performance since Last Crusade. What's he been in since 1989? Hollywood Homicide? Air Force One? He's one of the biggest stars in the world, but I bet his demo reel is nothing but The Fugitive and What Lies Beneath. And it's not like it would be that hard for The Shaggy Dog to be Tim Allen's best work cause really his only other parts have been a reluctant Santa and a guy who crams a motorcycle engine into some mundane household appliance like a blender every single fucking week. We get it dude, you're emasculated. Maybe if you got a real job it would help your self-esteem.

Another note to the studios: you can ignore that whole previous paragraph. Just stick with putting the stuff about Kristen Davis lighting up the screen in your ads.

This whole junket whore line of work seems pretty good, except for the derision it garners from killjoys who don't fully appreciate the symbiosis between studio and ersatz critic. Killjoys, such as myself (although hopefully this will change once the studios' marketing divisions recognize my considerable quote-whoring genius), especially when I'm underestimating the American public. Americans are smart enough to figure out which trite, offensive horror flick or droll comedy they want to see without any help from Dittman's blurbs. Dittman's critics aren't wrong when they call him a hack, it's just that who cares that he sells his opinions, which happen to conveniently converge with the studio's marketing interests. As if there were people actually on the fence as to whether or not they'd see Boat Trip: "Some random guy I've never heard of from some random magazine I've never heard of thinks it's 'one crazy and daring romantic comedy.' Anybody who writes in that robotic, contrived manner can't possibly be wrong. We'd better check it out. We'll have to push Welcome to Mooseport back to next weekend." Face it, if you saw Boat Trip, you did it for one of three reasons — (1) there was nothing else playing and your DVD player was broken, (2) you forgot about Snow Dogs and you figured that if it had Cuba Gooding, Jr. in it then it couldn't be that bad, or (3) you are insecure with your sexuality and therefore you believe that queers and their queer antics are downright fucking hilarious — and none of those reasons have anything to do with Dittman.

Don't get me wrong. I resent Dittman for having his asinine opinions in the first place, and I resent that Dittman's asinine opinions are worth way more to the studios than my (possibly asinine) opinions, but I don't resent him for publishing his opinions any more than I resent those people on the TV commercials who tell me that they like Pepsi more than Coke and try to peer pressure me into feeling the same way. It's advertising, it's annoying, but thankfully it's not all that difficult to filter out. Unfortunately, it does seem to be kind of difficult to profit insidiously from.


Bill Chinaski said...

"Any critic is entitled to wrong judgments, of course. But certain lapses of judgment indicate the radical failure of an entire sensibility." —Susan Sontag, Against Interpretation