Because of the deep, dark, burning hot embers this topic stirs within me, I’m going to give a you a TL;DR version.
Dear Movie Critics: just review the damn movie. Not the controversy surrounding the movie, not the on set issues or reshoots, not the marriage that collapsed due to the raw sexual friction between the two leads, and not the social media shitstorm created by Social Justice Warriors.
Just review the damn movie. For the record, that would be everything that happens between the opening titles and the final credits. Which should include, but is not limited to:
– The story
– The writing
– The characters
– The cinematography
– The music and/or score
– How successfully or unsuccessfully the Director accomplished his creative goals
I used to have normal human reaction to shitty review writing. Most often it was mocking laughter at people who didn’t understand what a movie review was supposed to consist of. Because the age of the internet created the entertainment know-it-all forced to provide frequent content and would not only provide commentary on movies but set photos, teaser trailers, behind the scenes drama, unsubstantiated rumors, and press junket flunkie.
I realize in that the lines are blurred with entertainment writing, but if you’re doing a movie review your only obligation is to REVIEW THE MOVIE. This topic has once again ruffled my feathers as I’ve started reading reviews for the live-action Ghost in the Shell movie starring the very not-Asian Scarlett Johannson. The film has been loosely draped in controversy since the alabaster actress was cast in the lead role. I don’t want to spend too much time on the controversy, but I’ll give you a brief reenactment:
WHITEWASHING!!! WHITEWASHING!!! SCARLETT JOHANNSON = NOT ASIAN!!! WHY HOLLYWOOD, WHY?!?!?! STUDIOS HATE DIVERSITY!!!!
There are people out there who genuinely believe that Hollywood unfairly appropriates other cultures and slaps on a thick coat of caucasian. Sometimes this is true and there’s a genuine point to be made. Other times the Social Justice Warriors cry foul over a white actor being cast in a role where the character is white (Iron Fist) and the argument becomes awkward and off-putting. No matter where you stand on the issue, it has nothing to do with the movie itself.
Your indignation over casting is a product of the movie but has nothing to do with the story being told within the span of ‘opening titles’ to ‘closing credits’. So if you’re writing a column about the controversy, feel free to mention any and all of the conversations being had on this topic. If you’re reviewing the movie, leave it out. Movie critics addressing the zeitgeist around a film are doing a disservice to the film and the craft.
It’s easy to pad the word count by bringing up controversy or citing recent zeitgeist around the production to generate some additional clicks, but a film critic needs to work within the framework of the finished film.