Warning: This post may offend (Apologies to LJ subscribers who got it twice)

24 Jun 2009 Maleghast

I’ve come to a startling and yet satisfying conclusion. While a large proportion of my social circle will (I expect) take untold glee in bashing seven shades of shit out of the new Transformers film (“Transformers – Revenge of the Fallen”), I have come to a liberating realisation; it’s not art, so I can just enjoy it.

I’m not afraid to admit that I like to read so-called “great” poetry, I enjoy (yes genuinely enjoy) watching Shakespeare, at least when his work is well staged I do, and I am well and widely read in what many would refer to as ‘the classics’. I love attending the Opera, art exhibitions and quality live music across many genres. Bluntly I am cultured, and when I want the intellectual satisfaction of indulging in culture I am fitted for the task. There are times, nonetheless, when entertainment can be honestly and openly garnered from less subtle sources, and I feel duty bound to remind my peers that this may well be one of those times.

I have no desire to protect Michael Bay from his detractors – you are right he is the King of cliché visually and in terms of the way he directs actors – nor do I wish to make the case that his most recent film should in any way be discussed as though it were art. No, my desire is to encourage my friends and acquaintances that there is nothing so utterly self-defeating as holding a film like the new Transformers movie up to the harsh light of our shared intellectual scrutiny. You have two options; either watch it and revel in its banality and inconsistency, its sensationalism and it’s accomplished superficiality, or don’t watch it. There is no third option…

You may think that there is a third option. You may mistakenly think that there is a place in this world for you to watch this film and then turn your undeniable analytical skills to the task of dissecting it, attempting to put meat back onto the bones of this paper butterfly so that you can complain that it is poorly done. You may, as has so often been the case before, feel that there is something clever in pointing out what some of us had already taken as read; that this is mindless, unconvincing almost entirely plot-free drivel with little or no characterisation and the worst dialogue one might be able to imagine. You see there are those of us who knew that going in, who decided quite rationally that there is a place in our lives for the entertainment equivalent of candyfloss (cotton candy to our American friends), and we are OK WITH THAT!

Time after time after time I have been forced to put up with facetious, knowing critiques of entertainment, be it film, tv, books, comics or whatever, that I already knew were intellectually sub-standard, and been made to feel as though I am anything from an “easy to please doormat of taste” through to an outright imbecile for enjoying them and yet I am quite aware of the fact that I am neither of these things. When I don’t like something I say so, and as for the imbecile thing… Oh what’s the point, I __do__ know I’m not an imbecile.

If you want to look clever, give me a well rounded and stimulating discussion on the film π by Darren Aronofsky, or let’s have a chat about why Citizen Kane may be a great film, but it has long since lost the title of ‘the Greatest Film Ever Made”. Let’s hear why you think “American Psycho” is an over-rated pile of horse-shit, but you’d better know your onions about the American novel of the late 20th Century before we get going down that route, because I do…

Here’s the bottom line; an end to all hackery, right here, right now. Until you’ve made your own multi-million dollar film you don’t get the spotlight while you tell the rest of us the bleedingly obvious as to why a film about giant robots from outer space that can talk and turn into mundane forms of human transport turned out to be an intellectual and artistic failure. We know it’s not Art, you don’t look clever telling us why it’s shit because it fails to be Art.

Quickly, before I finish, I think I ought to own up to the fact that until I was well into my late twenties I was just as much a part of this smug culture of armchair intellectual dilettantism for the middle classes as anyone else I know, and I want to say two things about that. One “I’m sorry; for every time I trespassed in this manner, and to everyone who won’t get back the time they had to spend listening to me using big words to tell them shit they already knew and had already decided did not matter to them”. Two; I’m pretty certain that what changed for me was genuinely trying to create something and realising that it’s nowhere near as easy as it looks… Oh experience how thy fruits are naught but humility and peace…

P.S. In case you were wondering (or worse still thinking of embedding the Kermode review in a comment) I’ve got a lot of respect for Mark Kermode, and I will admit that I found his “video review” for TROTF on the Kermode Blog genuinely funny, but then I know him to be a clever and insightful man and he did all of that to play to his audience. That being said, if he really wanted to impress me, he’d say something like my thoughts above to his ‘devoted followers’ if only to remind them that sometimes a movie is __JUST__ a movie…

3 thoughts on “Warning: This post may offend (Apologies to LJ subscribers who got it twice)

  1. NikB

    I completely agree. I read the few sentences that constituted a review of this in the Guardian at the weekend and the critic had clearly gone into the film with the intention of hating it. These people need to get a grip – it’s entertainment not art. Whilst fans of Transformers will comment on whether or not these films do justice to the original cartoons that’s probably the limit of critiquing that is needed. Please try to enjoy things for what they are, life is too short!

  2. Rob

    You forgot to mention one thing.

    Giant robots are awesome.

    So awesome that dodgy cartoons, cheap toys, crazy anime, crappy video games and directors with an uncanny ability to somehow make each and every explosion seem more spectacular than the last all somehow become awesome too.

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