I’m currently watching a movie called Heckler that has me thinking (and totally engrossed. There’s a fascinating onslaught of celebrity interviews, from Jamie Kennedy to Deep Roy, Carrie Fisher, Uwe Boll, Dave Attell, George Lucas, Perez Hilton, Jewel…on and on!) It’s a documentary exploring the personae of the “heckler,” primarily in the stand-up comedy world, but has now begun a fabulous portion about professional media critics, followed by a foray into how the Internet has changed the flow of public opinion and how that has an effect on the subjects of those shared opinions.
Okay, wait. Nicole Mandich just showed her the audience her boobs. And that’s alright, because it made sense, and kudos to her. Sorry, I’m trying to write while I watch the rest of this because I easily lose my thoughts.
One of the sub-texts being talked about is that “everyone has an opinion,” or the often-intoned “everyone’s a critic.” Absolutely true. It seems that the internet is currently in the stage of growth–early pubescence–where we have figured out how to use it’s hyper-speed to knit ourselves into communities of societal interests to share or amplify our opinions with/at one another, but that we are now too soon after this discovery to have evolved internet empathy, understand the possible weight of our words, or find pleasure in the measure of positive progression through constructive “feedback.”
It seems that the forums open to discussions of the loudest social issues are rife with trigger-warnings, immediate offense and defense, and swarms of the Many protecting the injured Few from the opposing masses. That sense of personal space, in regards to respect and insult, IS eerily absent from the majority of main-stream sites that post media-related reviews, critiques, or personal reactions. I don’t understand the value of a film or game review to the public that offers no analysis or breakdown–even through personal experience only–of the material if the message is entirely negative. Maybe it’s a catharsis for the scribe and in that it contains value. Just not to the community of media consumers, or to those that produce them.
If a vitriolic review is meant to “help [actors/directors/developers] get better at their craft”, it is a toil in hopelessness. A point the film makes through interviews is that if someone walks into your place of work, or upon you working on your craft of passion, and simply states “you suck at that. This is awful. YOU suck, and should be stopped,” well, how is that helpful? Criticism can be hurtful but still carry useful information, but it seems that it is the responsibility of anyone writing a piece that they label a “review” (anything beyond the scope of their personal “journaling”; something specifically meant to have some influence with other consumers) to try not to write out of anger. If that is unavoidable, and it is sometimes, then the responsibility becomes the imperative to communicate that anger through examples and reason.
I bring this up for two reasons: obviously in a self-conscious nod to this fledgling blog of mine, and in appreciation of the horror film review community. The only reason I didn’t just give up on the blog idea altogether is because I found a way to test the waters by offering my opinions on two things I am google-eyed over (horror movies and video games!) Finding a tempered and impacting way to write about the social issues that I am tied to has proven to be a tangled ball of slippery thread so I am taking the easy route by sharing my topical opinions of media artworks. After viewing Heckler, I am going to be even more conscientious about what I say. Not because I believe I am anybody in the world of weighty reviews, but because I have no place even accidentally influencing someone else’s experiences with my own disappointments.
On a bright side, I have to say how pleased I am every time I visit a site dedicated to horror-genre reviews. The reviews are always earnest , usually lengthy with balanced personal reaction and analysis, and containing at least one affable nod to the concerns of other horror fans. Tomorrow, when I’m not writing on sleep deprivation, I’ll do some due diligence and link those sites for your continued reading experience!
It’s not horrific in the least, but I recommend Heckler if you like comedy-based, celebrity driven documentaries with a lot to think about regarding the media overlapping with consumers.