Samuel Brace on Batman v Superman vs. Suicide Squad, and judging films before they release…
We all like to judge films. Review films. Comment and discuss films. It’s one of our favourite things to do, and it has been for a very long time. We like to talk about the newest releases and we like to talk, and to be spoken to, about the movies that are upcoming. Hearing from informed/uniformed voices is the reason why we arrive at some of our favourite websites every day. The discussion presented at these places, in blogs, videos and podcasts, encourages further conversation afterward on platforms like Twitter, forums and in real life. We like talking about films and we love to judge them before we see them. We all like to pretend we know something others do not.
We are all capable of informing opinions, and we often do, very quickly, once a product or a glimpse/taster of a product is placed before us. This is fine. This is fun. This is normal. We, as a potential audience for the film in question, need to decide whether or not we want to see that movie. Saying something looks great, or something looks bad, is a perfectly reasonable response to seeing a trailer or preview. What isn’t reasonable, what isn’t fine, is saying something more absolute. You can normally be safe from hearing such things within hard media, elite media, general media, but when dipping your toes into fandom media, these absolute, unwavering statements, statements such as “This movie WILL be great” or “This movie WILL be bad” are more likely to be found.
These statements, more often than not, arrive before seeing little or no evidence to support such a claim. Back when films like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad were announced, these unequivocal, absolute claims were everywhere. “These films will be bad” many had said — an odd claim to spout with nothing of any substance to base it on. The only film released in the new DC connected universe was and still is, Man of Steel, an average, okay, non offensive movie. Not a technically bad one, not a technically great one. So labelling these movies as inevitably bad seemed a bit strange. Further down the line, once trailers were released, the word from fandom media was, “BvS will be great”… BvS will be great? Sorry, what? How do you know? Have you seen the film yet? How can one be so certain about a thing that has no certainty about it? BvS WILL be great? You’re opinion could be, “BvS LOOKS great” or, “BvS LOOKS bad” but judging it in such certain terms with nothing but a trailer or even teaser to go on is just absurd. Absurd claims by silly people, the people who pretend to know things you don’t.
Recently, we’ve had a bit more to go on when discussing these films, not a lot more, but with a couple new trailers and a bunch of stills, there is at least something more to see. We still can’t say one way or another, but we have enough to probably decide what will deserve our money and time. So why are these absolute statements still being thrown about? Why is BvS or Suicide Squad going to be good or bad one way or the other? When judging a film before release, all we can do is examine the evidence available. The evidence suggests if one of these films is going to be anything more than a fun forgettable romp, it’s going to be Suicide Squad. SS‘s latest trailer at least presented something substantive, something at least aesthetically beautiful, something that could lead one to saying “This film has the potential to be excellent”, but being concrete, saying “BvS will be better” or “Suicide Squad is going to be great” just doesn’t make sense.
I suppose it’s easier to deduct why fandom media will come down on the side of: “These new films that are a part of our fandom will be great”, as their fandom and the support and love of their fandom is the reason why they have jobs and or something to write/talk about. That’s kind of understandable — even though, personally, I’d rather my conduit in this situation have a little more integrity and therefore credibility — but why does everyone else then begin to talk in such terms? We obviously all want to be excited for something, but isn’t it more exciting to watch content when you haven’t made up your mind? On top of being excited, we also like to talk about and share our opinions, but saying “X will be great” or “X will be bad” isn’t having an opinion, that’s straight up mendacity. Speaking in such absolute terms is claiming you have inside knowledge of something you do not, it is saying you are certain about the outcome of something in which you have no way of being certain. It is lying. Once you have seen the movie or whatever it maybe, then you can be concrete, then you can be absolute. Once that has happened; you have seen the evidence. Right now, for example with these upcoming DC movies, you have no real evidence. You have trailers. So stop lying and just share what you think and not what you know. You know nothing, at least not yet.
The discussion of film is important, the discussion of film after the fact is fun, the discussion of film before hand is fun as well, maybe even more so. We should encourage talk about these products we love so dearly, we should encourage the sharing of opinion, of what we think about this new still image, about this new trailer. What we shouldn’t encourage is the opposite. We need to avoid inflicting our uninformed, absolute judgments on others, when that very judgment has no basis in the reality of the situation. Don’t tell us BvS will one hundred percent be great when you’ve not seen the film. Don’t tell us Suicide Squad will one hundred percent be bad when you’ve not experienced the movie. Judge and discuss a film based on the evidence made available, and when the evidence is small, just tell us what you think. Opinions are awesome as long as they are actually opinions. The evidence suggests, for me, that Batman v Superman looks fine, it looks okay. The evidence suggests, for me, that Suicide Squad looks fantastic. These are opinions. I don’t know what will be great and what will be bad. Neither do you. So stop lying to me. Stop lying to us.