“The Dark Knight Rises” isn’t even out yet, but fans of the series are hardcore when it comes to loyalty. Just ask the folks over at Rotten Tomatoes, who had to disable commenting on some negative reviews of the film.
Marshall Fine wrote that “anyone forecasting serious Oscar love for this lumpish, tedious film has been smoking too much of that potent, prescription California weed” in his review, prompting a huge wave of backlash from fans. There was so much ire, in fact, that the amount of traffic being redirected to Fine’s own site caused the server to crash. Rotten Tomatoes disabled commenting for that purpose, but also because the amount of hate speech and threats against Fine was unprecidented…and all over a movie most people haven’t even seen yet.
Matt Atchity, Editor-In-Chief for Rotten Tomatoes, issued a statement about the incident, saying nothing would change Fine’s initial rating of “rotten” for the film despite the uproar.
– If a critic often goes against the majority, but has well-reasoned arguments, it’s unlikely we’re going to ban them, at least not just for having a different opinion. We’re not looking for groupthink here.
– If a critic abuses our trust by linking to something that’s not a review, we will take action up to and including removing them from the Tomatometer. If a critic doesn’t take their reputation seriously, then neither will we.
– We’ll ban you for threats and hate speech — we’re trying to have fun here, so don’t be a dick. And don’t try and argue about your right to free speech — this is a business, and we have the right to refuse service to anyone we feel like.
– We’re probably going to move to a Facebook-based commenting system that doesn’t allow for anonymity. You’ll have to stand by your comments, just like a critic does. So you’ll still be able to argue about a movie you haven’t seen, but people will know it was you. (I know that won’t make a difference for some people, but at least there may be some measure of responsibility).
I know that a lot of people will think we’re overreacting, and I know my own breeding, sexuality, and intelligence will be called in to question just for daring to ask for some level of respectable debate. That’s fine, I’m used to that (I have a show on YouTube, so come at me, bro).
But if I could ask everyone for one thing, it’s this: don’t be a dick. Even if you think someone else is being a dick. Just take a deep breath, step away from the computer, and maybe go for a walk. Have a smoke if you need one. There are plenty of other things to get angry about, like war, famine, poverty and crime. But not movie reviews.
Critic Christy Lemire is also on the receiving end of some backlash for her review; the comment thread is a mile long, filled with arguments as to the validity of her movie knowledge, how Christopher Nolan measures up when compared to Justin Bieber (you heard me), and whether or not someone who liked “Battleship” should be allowed to critique another film.
“The Dark Knight Rises” is plot-heavy, obsessed with process, laden with expository dialogue and flashbacks that bog down the momentum and–dare I say it?–just flat-out boring at times,” Lemire wrote.
Why the so-called “internet trolls” take the time to argue over anything is beyond me, but when the comments in question concern a movie critic’s opinion, I have to admit the eye-rolling commences. It’s one thing to have a thoughtful debate, but resorting to name-calling and belittling one’s character/intelligence is counterproductive and unnecessary. It seems to me that the entire point of a film critic’s job is to give their opinion on what they’ve seen to better inform their fans. If you don’t agree with one critic’s take on movies, find one who has similar interests as you and heed their advice. Or better yet, form your own views on it.