Thursday, April 15, 2010

Kick-Ass and the Fanboy Inferiority Complex

I'm just wiped out today. Exhausted. Have no idea why...

Well, yesterday became rather stressful for me, but I'm usually able to shrug that off. I didn't sleep much last night, it's true, but come on...I've gone on 5 hours of sleep more often than I can count.

Oh well.

Kick-Ass is opening tomorrow/midnight tonight. I see no reason to see it again. It was pretty good, I was entertained. I certainly don't see it as a downfall of human civilization, but neither do I overrate it. It's a well-made adaptation of a middling-to-poor comic series (that was saved by amazing artwork), that solves some of the problems of the source material while making more.

However, I did read Roger Ebert's review. I respect Ebert a lot, and I can totally acknowledge (as he does) that he simply doesn't care if Kick-Ass is effectively made, or not. The nature of the story, and the Hit Girl character in particular, just completely put him off the film. Fair enough, and frankly, the man makes some pretty damning points, "I know, I know. This is a satire. But a satire of what?" being the most biting.

I have friends who tend to look at films like this for pure entertainment value. Who get pissy with me when I start talking about films they simply see as, well, "kick-ass," in a larger social and moral view. You see, to me, comic books and other escapist entertainment are supposed to teach lessons about morality, and honesty, and fair play. That's been the role of stories that trade on mythology and hero iconography since the Greeks. Joseph Campbell isn't considered a genius for nothing. These hero myth stories are important, and I make no excuses for treating them as such.

(Not that you can't have a laugh from time to time.)

So, yes, I think Mr. Ebert is completely valid in taking Kick-Ass to task for turning an 11-year-old girl into a mass murderer and fetish object for laughs. I don't agree with him 100%, as I think Chloe Grace Moretz's Hit Girl may, in fact, be the most powerful and self-actualized character in the film, but something is off. I've always been more than slightly put off by the use of brutality for humor in the works of filmmakers like Quentin Tarantino, and this film trades on that in a pretty openly and pretty brazenly.

I did laugh. I did enjoy the film. However, the more I think about it, especially in light of Ebert's comments, it did feel like an empty vessel, filled with a lot of flash designed to directly appeal to the worst parts of the 12 year old in all of us. There is a question to be raised as to using superhero iconography for that purpose.

Frankly, the comic series was far, far more guilty of this. Of course, I say that as someone who finds Mark Millar's MO in regard to making comics highly suspect. I do not think a comic series should be justified as a method to see an idea as a movie. It's a process that lessens comic books as a form in their own right, IMHO.

On the other hand, we have Harry Knowles absolutely idiotic reaction to Ebert's review. Which is, yet again, another heaping helping of fanboy inferiority complex. The kneejerk reaction to anything that finds fault with something you enjoyed as a personal attack, or vice-versa.

I still get awful comments simply because I found the Star Wars prequels and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull to be worthwhile entertainments. I enjoyed them, and far too many people are upset by that because we, as a fan culture, have become obsessed with groupthink. It's not just in fandom, honestly, think about the religious groups who cannot fathom or abide ideas that contradict their own. It's fear. Fear that, my God, if everyone doesn't blindly agree, I MAY BE WRONG!!!! The effort then becomes to utterly crush any opposing ideas, so you no longer have to grapple with your own doubts.

I prefer to just enjoy what I like.

1 comment:

  1. Add political thought into areas that have succumbed to groupthink mode. "If you don't think like me you are a)evil, b)racist c)stupid." Heaven help us if we must have a civil debate with actual ideas...

    The prequels were fun to watch just to make fun of Hayden Christiansen.