The dark stink rises
Meanwhile, any critics who dared to dislike The Dark Knight were subjected to tirades of abuse. Stephanie Zacharek, then writing for Slate, was treated like filth for articulately questioning the film’s brilliance. In a YouTube review she joked: “Girls are not supposed to be allowed to review comic-book movies.” She was not overstating the case. “This woman is a fucking idiot . . .” harveydents writes beneath her clip. “she just needs to get laid,,,or come out of the closet...fuckig? c**t.” (Insert [sic] wherever seems appropriate.) The comment was not an aberration. Many similar slabs of ordure still lurk on the electronic ether.
The cacophony of boorish antiwoman muck kicked off again with the release of The Avengers earlier this year. Over on Rotten Tomatoes, the horde waited for the first reviews and pounced. Even before the film was released, dissenting female critics – on average no more negative than the men – were being lambasted for failing to recognise Joss Whedon’s amusing romp as a copper-bottomed classic.
Does all this matter? Not much. The least-balanced and most intemperate voices always make the loudest noise. The vast majority of enthusiasts for The Dark Knight (or Spider-Man or Harry Potter) are still capable of holding civil conversations with those who think differently. Critics will surely hold their nerve and remember that any decent review should contain a brief outline of the plot. But many once-useful outlets for reasoned discussion have been overwhelmed by anonymous fanatics who regard dissent from their orthodoxy as a cause for public immolation. The bullies too often boss the playground.
As I write, the early reviews of The Dark Knight Returns are coming in. Within a few hours of the first negative notice arriving – from brave Marshall Fine at Hollywood Fine – its corner of Rotten Tomatoes was submerged by more than 700 comments from people who hadn’t yet seen the film. Elsewhere on the site, every second critic is accused of unveiling spoilers.
Most of the comments beneath Mr Fine’s review were, however, encouragingly sane. “Giving negative reviews to fanboy films is worth it just for the hyperdefensiveness from fans who haven’t even seen the film yet,” the wise Alessandro C notes. Goodness me. Have we moved on?
As if. Then Christy Lemire, writing for Associated Press, popped up with a mildly negative notice. The pack moved away from Fine and began hacking hunks out of the “stupid woman”. By Tuesday morning, Rotten Tomatoes had suspended all comments on reviews of The Dark Knight Rises. Nice work, hyper-fans.