Digital Polyphony

film, games, memories & random thoughts


Snark and Hyperbole

Posted on December 4, 2013 at 2:50 AM

Snark and Hyperbole

“Snark is the idoit's version of wit." - The Newsroom



Over the next couple of weeks I’m going to be pretty full up on seeing a bunch of movie and writing reviews for the year-end look back at 2013, so blogs are going to be a bit shorter than usual, but in this one, I wanted to address the strange neediness of many online people to really appear “edgy” and “cool” by saying things that are pretty damn good are absolutely awful.


No, this isn’t the typical internet extremism here where hyperbole is the norm, it’s people going out of their way to just say stupid things to get noticed as they waive their hands mightily in the air in hoping that you will care.


To best showcase this, I’m going to list a few things and phrases that I’ve noticed that, honestly, seem to make little sense to me and I have to just assume it's people trying to just stir the pot in a desperate attempt at getting attention.



1) "Steven Spielberg is the worst director ever"

Usually the argument is that he’s overly melodramatic and schmaltzy as well as another argument that he “ruined” movies because he made what is essentially the first blockbuster which made the studios rethink their approach to summer movies and yadda yadda yadda. You know the type, five seconds in a hipster coffee shop will reveal them to you. Just don't bring up Schindler's List, they get pissed when you bring up Schindler's List. They can't say anything other than that it's one of the finest films ever made and that really angers them. You wouldn't like film snobs when they're angry.


But honestly…the worst director ever? Did he insult your mother? Spielberg is what young filmmakers dream of becoming, and if you yourself are looking to be any sort of creator, rather than a critic, I seriously doubt he's not an influence on you in some way. He made some of the biggest films across four decades, starting as the “golden boy” and now someone who has been more than capable of holding his own all the while ushering new and exciting voices to cinema (he’s a big fan of Edgar Wright, for example).

There "opinion" then there's "informed opinion."


How can anyone really say that about the guy? He rarely makes a bad movie, seems to capture the heart and essence of his material better than most others and is an all-around nice guy too. Plus, he doesn’t really have an ego. Unlike say…



2) "James Cameron is the worst director ever"

In a way, I can see Cameron’s self-promotion being a turn off, but does that make him a bad filmmaker? No. In fact, his films are some of the few that many people can still go back and watch without a hitch because there’s a timeless quality to them. A lot of that is because he has a formula: take familiar tropes and rework them.

That sense of familiarity some criticize as him being derivative, but come on, if that’s the only knock you have against him as a filmmaker, then you might as well start labeling a dozen others as well. Many arguments against him boil down to words like “rip off” or “boilerplate” without really critiquing. He’s a straw man for film-school cinema snobs, a group I loathe because they think it's “cool” for liking Godard and can dissect and deconstruct Ozu’s commentary on Japanese family life. Cinema snobs tend to think they know everything when the best lovers of film are always willing to try new things and certainly aren't going to go out of their way to be snarky about it. They should love film of all kinds. Period.


Cameron made movies about robots and aliens. That’s his thing, and you know what? He’s damn good at it.

I remember in college in a film class that there was this small group of hipster film fans (before "hipster" was a thing) and they hung out in coffee shops and would talk about how nothing is ever going to be as good as film in the 60s and 70s and how Hitchcock (another straw man like Spielberg and Cameron) just ripped off Peeping Tom and so on...

If you love film, then show you love it instead of wallowing in your own self-righteousness. Learn to love movies and life. That doesn't mean you can't be critical, but put togehter actual critiques instead of buzzwrods like "overly-sentimental" or "derivatvie" as though that's giving an actual critique about something. All it shows is how limited you are as a lover of film in the first place.

Nothing turns me off than when people start talking about movies and what they love...then you have that one guy or girl too drunk on pretention to realize how much of an asshole they are.


In Cameron’s case, I think a lot of it has to do with success. The more successful you are, the more people speak up about not liking you and they'll BS any reason they can to validate that. Having an ego doesn’t help matters, but he’s not exactly a hateful, spiteful person either. Just a perfectionist, and not the first director to have that approach to cinema.



3) "The Beatles suck and are overrated"

My first question to anyone who says that is “have you listened to their albums?”


Often the answer is “no.” Like a lot of people, the only thing they know about The Beatles is what others say about them and their radio-hits. They’re not sitting there listening to The White Album or Revolver form beginning to end because they have developed a perspective of what they’re like. You can’t blame them on that. They have this presumption of what all Beatle music is like but they base their opinion solely on that…and more often than not are completely wrong.

Try as they might...I just don't hear a lot of constructive criticism about them...just a lot of hyperbole.


Now some who love music can listen to them and maybe give a full-on critique, but I honestly haven’t heard anyone do that. At least not in any in-depth way to go through their songs and be able to analyze and actually give a constructive critique about them. I think because anyone who actually might take the time to do that will find out they had a lot more going for them than the Billboard charts and discover a side they didn’t even realize was there. I know I did when I listened to Abbey Road all the way through and followed the various movements across an album as songs began to seamlessly fall in to each other, give nods to songs before it while continuing a chorus or melody before bringing back a callback to the first song at the end...


As you know, music is arguably the most subjective form of art out there. Music, like painting, sculpture and drawing, is there to evoke an emotional, personal response. Not tell a narrative or have a plot and characters where you can dissect it and analyze it with structure and storytelling knowledge or the technical ability to construct a scene like a film or a book. It’s not presenting itself to take you on a story journey, it’s there to take you on one completely dependent upon your own thoughts and feelings.


It’s an emotional connection, a personal one, and trying to criticize it rarely goes beyond that “bad” and “good” because it’s all knee-jerk responses to three to four minute songs. It literally is a matter of taste and how your life is, which is why I always prefer saying “it’s not for me” than “they’re awful and overrated.” Some are adamant about it, though, yet they always answer that first question with the same “no, I haven’t listened to a full album form them.” you're saying you have no idea what you're even talking about. Ok...

Basically, if you haven’t, then your opinion really doesn’t mean a thing. If you have, then good for you. Move on with your life.


4) "Nintendo is for kids"

How old are you? Ten? Saying “Nintendo is for kids” has as much maturity of the Cobra-Kai dojo members from The Karate Kid.

Why is it so hard for people to just sit and enjoy a game? That’s all Nintendo wants, and they do a damn good job at making it fun to play. Yet I’ve met a number of so-called “hardcore” gamers, and especially seen absurdly stupid comments online, that wouldn’t touch a Nintendo game for some reason. Too busy with deathmatches and Madden and playing the same multiplayer maps for the 100th time to construct an intelligent thought, I assume. As I said before, you can’t call yourself “hardcore” while being dismissive at the same time. Then again, “hardcore” is a misnomer if there ever was one.


How insecure in your own life are you to be turned off on a game that has bright colors anyway? Or was made to be inclusive of a wide range of ages and people? There’s a good chance that new Mario game is going to win Game of the Year. So…


Though my personal choice is The Last of Us, just because the writing is phenomenal. Mario is a close second though.


Seriously, though, if you ever say this, then I have no respect for you or whatever label of “gamer” you want to call yourself. Grow up, it’s gamers like you that are ruining it for everyone else and are why I couldn’t care less about “games as art” or “gaming is serious, guys” attitudes.

5) Anything About Movie Casting

Please. With sugar on top. Just shut up until you see the film. You would think people would have learned their lessons by now after being continuously wrong about damn near every piece of casting news out there. They face to the internet like the flying monkeys of the Wicked Witch in their quest for blood. Petitions, which never work by the way, memes, get the idea.

But the way the internet so soon forgets how wrong people, it's no wonder I kind of limit how much I'm online. It's already a bit of a cesspool, but it's a cesspool because people forget so quickly about all the other times they're wrong. Repeatedly wrong. Especially about movie casting.

But why do they do it? Well...because it's "cool." That's why people go against the grain, but in this case more get on the bandwagon as the fever builds and suddenly it's "not-cool" to think opposite of them. In this case, the snark becomes the norm...and that's pretty damn sad.



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