I am not going to see The Hobbit. I very much doubt I ever will see it. I am among those rare few sci fi / fantasy fans who didn’t love Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. I enjoyed them okay. I didn’t mind watching them. I don’t own them. I don’t watch them if they’re on TV. I really just ultimately feel kind of blah about the whole affair.
Let me be clear before someone starts accusing me of dismissing the importance of either the original books or the films. I would never suggest they aren’t important. They are very important. Probably some of the most important works in fantasy literature / film. And good for them. Good for Tolkein. Good for Jackson. Good for all the fans. Good for everybody.
But I was not particularly impressed with them.
Believe me. This isn’t an easy thing to admit. Especially as a writer. Especially as a sci fi / fantasy writer. Even now, I can hear the clatter of angry fans as they begin writing their comments about how incredibly stupid I am, how uncultured, how the LOTR trilogy is an amazing, fundamental work of fantasy fiction and to say it isn’t the most fantastic thing ever created is to show my own ignorance. Such comments are certainly welcome on this site, provided they remain civil. But, please, at least read the rest of this post before deciding to eviscerate me for daring to not be in love with them.
Can we just have an honest difference of opinion here? I get being a fan, and the fanaticism that comes with it. I hope one day to have fans as devoted. But it isn’t a personal insult to anyone to suggest that while they might love something, some of us might not. And it isn’t automatically because we’re uncultured or too stupid to know better. And it’s not just someone trying to get a rise out of you either or being too hip for the room. Sometimes, folks just don’t like stuff as much as we do, and we have to be grown up about it.
This is what bothers me about fandom (in all its forms). It’s one thing to be devoted. It’s another to be so blinded by one’s devotion that any criticism is viewed as attack. We need to stop doing that. And, yet, in a world where anyone with a computer and an internet connection can share their opinions with the world, we still don’t seem to understand that people are going to have different opinions.
This is why I cringe every time I read a negative review for The Hobbit, scroll down to the comments section, and read all the nerd rage to come. And that’s what it is. I think the very notion of nerds is something of an antiquated concept. We’re all nerds now. Whether it’s our love of gritty crime shows like Breaking Bad or The Wire, our obsessiveness over My Little Pony, our joy over our fantasy football team roster, being nerds is just what we are. And I actually like that quite a bit.
But then comes the dark side. The people who have almost turned their fandom into a religion. To question their preferred passion is to summon their wrath. And while they might not declare holy war, they sure as hell will jump on your forum to tell you how stupid you are for daring to not feel the same way.
Get over it.
In the interest of defusing some of this (though the odds are slim), here are a few guidelines to writing a rebuttal to a negative review of your favorite THING, whatever that might be.
If a review gets some small detail wrong, it doesn’t automatically disqualify their opinion. So what if they spell Smog the dragon instead of Smaug. It might be glaringly obvious to you, but it doesn’t mean they’re wrong.
If a reviewer suggest that they were bored by some aspect of a film, you don’t need to write a comment about how wrong they are for being bored. Boredom is an individual experience, and just because you can sit there for half an hour listening to dwarves sing about mountains, that doesn’t mean everyone else can.
If a reviewer thinks the film is good, but not great, they are not necessarily being “too hip” to enjoy the film.
MOST IMPORTANTLY: When someone dislikes something you like, they are NOT automatically calling you dumb for liking it. I pretty much despised Tron: Legacy but a lot of people seemed to like it. Sure, they’re wrong for doing so, but they’re not dumb. Disagreeing with me doesn’t make you stupid. It just makes you a person with your own opinions, and, hey, that’s cool. (And I was just kidding about being wrong.)
Remember, we all go to the movies/ read books/ play video games for different reasons. Your needs are not my needs, and that’s just fine. I couldn’t give a damn about folk songs and the geography of imaginary lands. I’m more of a rocket punching giant monsters guy. (Speaking of which, the newest trailer for Pacific Rim pleases me and The Mighty Robot King very much. If you haven’t seen it yet, check it out.) Even the original books had too many characters for my tastes, was too melodramatic, and paced too slow. But that’s just my opinion. I know that not everyone will agree.
So, hey, let’s have our spirited discussions. Let’s share our thoughts and indulge our inner nerds. But let’s do it without going over the edge.
Unless we’re talking about Skyfall. Whoo boy, is that a stinker of a film.
Fighting the good fight, Writing the good write,