On Being Negative

My Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon were strange mirrors of each other. Though one was a random board game night and the other was my writer’s group, they felt very much the same–people gathered around the table, talking about all number of things instead of focusing on the task at hand. Mostly, talking about movies.

And, in both conversations, one of my friends* antagonized me about being too critical of movies. It was a little different each time. One friend wanted to prove (to another person he had only met) that I hate everything, an allegation I don’t usually mind. The other wanted to prove I never like mainstream movies. I have no idea why either wanted to prove anything.

Over the years, I have learned it’s easier to shut my trap about things I didn’t like than rail of their lack of originality. Sometimes, I still feel like a lonely girl I was at 17, hanging out with people I don’t like, people who incessantly quote Family Guy and Dane Cook. Why, oh why, are you trying to convince me to like these awful things? Sometimes I feel like I live in The Twilight Zone, because, for the life of me, I cannot understand why everyone things Anchorman is hilarious or why everyone looks at me like a war criminal when I tell them Bridesmaids was just OK.

I am used to people calling me over-critical. I have high standards and I’m not going to apologize for them. If you want to watch a movie with a trainwreck of a story, that’s your prerogative. It’s my prerogative to stay home. I don’t begrudge people their entertainment. After all, I love my genre shit–Law and Order, romance novels, over-the-top shouju anime.

But, I have noticed that men are the ones to throw this claim around. Typically, nerdy/geeky men. I hate to say it (read: I love to say it), but way too many nerdy guys feel entitled to their entertainment/fandom. They love the things they love and how dare ANYONE criticize it ever. Now, I am quite puzzled by the antagonism of my friends, cause I never bash any of their fandoms, but I digress.

These guys–straight, middle-class white guys–don’t often get the chance to see themselves relegated to the role of object, plot point, or inciting incident. They don’t watch movies where someone like them is kidnapped or rapped to motivate the protagonist. They don’t watch movies where they are vacuous love interests with no life outside the protagonist. No, they mostly watch mainstream movies, where men do all the things and women are all the things.

Maybe I am reaching, but I don’t think men really understand what it feels like to be a woman and really, really want to watch movies you can relate to. Or how it feels to be promised great female characters, only to see the movie and realize no one understands what the term “strong female character” actually means.

I am not sure how much these things are correlated. Am I harder on movies by men for men? I don’t think so. If anything, I’m harder on movies by women for women. I won’t let any bullshit slide when I know a woman wrote or directed a film. But I do know, that certain types of movies are not really made for me–whether they are action flicks full of tits and explosion aimed at 15 year old boys or self-indulgent romcoms where a pretty, quirky manic pixie dream girl rescues the sad, awkward nerd from his boring existence despite his complete lack of personality/appealing qualities.

These movies do not care about me. Why should I care about them?

I like being selective. I like thinking critically. I like picking apart a movie’s strengths and weaknesses. I’m not going to apologize for demanding more than mindless entertainment for my $15 movie ticket.

We should all demand more.

*I feel I should use the word friend loosely, as this behavior is rather intolerable



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