I get it. Movie stars, directors, and producers have an obligation to sing a song about how the sun shines out of the ass of every project that they are involved in, always eager to point a finger of blame in the direction of the evil cabal of movie critics when those projects shit the bed.
It’s PR spin.
But if any of them ever took responsibility for the jam soaked turd that they put into the public marketplace — all nice and pretty, wrapped in cellophane and sprayed with perfume — then they’d probably be run out of the industry on a slicked rail.
Case in point: Johnny Depp, Armie Hammer, and now Mark Wahlberg.
Hammer is a youngling whose first tentpole picture flopped over in the summer breeze like a necrotic cock, so it’s understandable to see him seethe over the public’s lack of adoration for his stab at playing cowboys and whatever the fuck Johnny Depp was supposed to be.
He says that American critics were “gunning for” The Lone Ranger and intimates that they — or we, since I personally dabble in the dark art of film criticism — were obsessed with the film’s production woes and its bloated budget.
Hammer’s co-star, noted thespian Johnny Depp, concurs:
I think the reviews were written 7 or 8 months, probably, before we ever released the thing. […] [The critics’] expectations of it, it must be a blockbuster, this and that, I didn’t have any expectations of that. I never do, why would I?
Pushing Depp’s “Look at me, I’m an interesting artist and above petty commerce” routine aside — despite his expectation to get paid like someone who top-lines blockbusters (and to his defenders, I invite you to look at his IMDB page in search of just five arthouse pictures that he has done since 1995’s Dead Man to prove his worth as an artist and not an utterly generic, take the money and run movie star.), this is the standard issue nonsense from people who are trying to sell a film in international markets.
Remember, those markets know that this is a film that has already been covered in a mixture of granulated shit and five week old hobo piss by its 28% Rotten Tomatometer rating and the fact that Disney is saying that it will possibly lose them $190 million dollars, so of course they’re going to need to be sweet talked.
What I don’t understand, though, is why Mark Wahlberg, who has nothing to do with this bloated whale corpse of a movie, would enter the fray, but Marky Mark unleashed his own funky bunch of bullshit too, saying:
First and foremost, the media is targeting all these movies, […] There’s intense scrutiny on us, way more than before.
It’s worth noting that Wahlberg also laid into the industry a bit, earning a bit of respect before cashing that in defense of Michael Bay, with whom he is now tied thanks to Transformers 4 — a film that, if anything like its predecessors, will be the kind of big, dumb, heavy metal and light worth actioner that Wahlberg maligns in his previous breath.
I don’t want to talk about that, though, I want to talk about Wahlberg’s use of the word “targeting”, because in my view, it’s movie viewers who are being targeted by the Hollywood machine and it is critics — as unsympathetic as we may be at times — who do our best to at least put a fucking shield of insight into the hands of the audience so they don’t get knocked down and cleaned out.
Why is that needed? Well, to put it plainly, movies cost money, they don’t come with a refund policy, and times are tough. It’s that simple. Going to the movies represents a gamble and consumers have no protection against a film’s PR campaign, save for word of mouth and those damned critics and entertainment journalists.
Now, I’m not going to sit here and espouse the virtues of every single film critic.
Let’s face it, some critics are shit, burdened by cynicism and inspired by a backwards set of priorities like the pursuit of access and the puffing of their own ego. These are the people who make you question their ethics as they write up a review while wearing studio swag. The people who cream their shorts for a pull quote, and who get so hard when they see a Re-Tweet from a studio that they pass out from blood loss.
Fuck those people, but they are the minority, not the majority.
The majority of critics are simply offering up their honest opinion about what they are seeing as a way of conveying information. Take their advice, don’t take their advice, it’s up to you.
But if you unequivocally trust people like Johnny Depp, Mark Wahlberg, and Jerry Bruckheimer to be straight with you while they’re trying to sell you their movie, and cheer when they say that critics are the problem, you deserve to get rolled.
More from this author on this topic: Means, Motive, and Opportunity: How We Get Played as Suckers