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Suicide Squad marks the 3rd movie from the DC/Warner Bros cinematic universe that has caused much divide between critics and fans. Coming off the highly critically displeased reception of Batman V Superman, the so-called movie experts are tearing SS apart for its jarring plot, erratic editing, and vapid characters; including but not limited to: the misogynistic treatment of Harley Quinn (those  booty shorts kept getting shorter and shorter) and the racial stereotypes of El Diablo being a Mexican gang banger, and Killer Croc being a reptile skinned black guy who wants to watch BET (to watch white girls Twerk no less). Meanwhile, the fans, have been a little more forgiving. The DC loyalists relished in films boss soundtrack of classic rock anthems, its youthful edge style (If Hot Topic could be a movie, this would be it) and the badassery of break away characters like Viola Davis‘  unapologetically brutal Amander Waller, Margo Robbie’s barb-tongued spitfire Harley Quinn and Will Smith‘s “no time for bullshit” Deadshot. These are characters people want to see more of.

So what’s the deal? Why is there such a divide – why does a film like Suicide Squad get a 26% Rating from Critics on Rotten Tomatoes and a 71%  Audience Score? Well, that’s what the Internet is for – to fight, bicker, and assert opinion over someone else’s fandom. Tell you what, though, John Ostrander, creator of the Suicide Squad comics, has a different theory. He thinks it’s because critics just “came prepared to hate”.

In a review for ComicMix, Ostrander comes out of the gate stating his obvious assumed prejudiced in favor of Suicide Squad:

As we start, I think you should know my biases. I think you should know any critics’ bias. Myself, I use them mostly as consumer reporters. If I find a critic whose tastes largely coincide with mine, I tend to trust them more. The late great Roger Ebert was one. Knowing who is giving you their opinion is important; what does their opinion matter if you don’t trust them?

Regarding the Suicide Squad movie, well, I’m biased. I’m prejudiced. I have a vested interest in its success. I want it to succeed. However, if I didn’t like it, I’d be more likely just to keep my trap shut.

My trap is open.

The point of critics is to help provide information to help you, potential audience member,  make an informed decision. What you decide to do or not do with that information is your own business. And Ostrander is so right about trust, if you don’t trust opinion, whether that opinion be from a friend/family or reoccurring voice on the Internet, you’re not going to want to listen to what they have to say, perhaps trigger defensive/offensive behavior. It’s like this: If you’re a fan you’re already biased. It’s like watching your kid play sports. They fuck up, miss shots, and aren’t that great, but you already loved them before they hit the field so you overlook the flaws.  And when someone points out their mistakes or shortcomings you lose your mind. How dare they fucking critique that which you love (*Note: special thanks to NB reader Michael Atwood  who we lifted this observation from). So Ostrander was on point there. However, his assertion that critics were dead set on hating this, is where he went off the rails…

I know some of the critics, both in print and online, do not like the movie. That’s okay; everyone has a right to their own opinion even when it’s wrong. My problem is that, at least with some of the media reviews, is that the critic is also tired of superhero and “tentpole” films and, overtly or covertly, would like to see their end. Look, I get it – they have to see all the films out there and they must be tired of all the blockbusters.

If every superhero film is not The Dark Knight, they’ll bitch. I think that’s going on here to a certain degree. Just as I came prepared to love the movie, they came prepared to hate it.

It is within reason that if you go into a movie wanting to enjoy it, then you’re going to enjoy it. Same applies if you walk into a movie wanting to hate it, you probably will. But it’s never that simple. Not everyone’s barometer for measuring what makes a quality movie is the same. Really, the only difference between critics and fans is where on the spectrum of Good/Bad their opinions and impressions lay. For critics, the things that are bad don’t make up for the things that are good. For fans, it’s the other way around. For example, you’d never catch a food critic at TGIF’s what with their “frozen processed food” and obnoxious staff with their “flair”. However, a local townie loves the affordable food and the bar where he can cozy up and get a $2.00 draft while he watches some out of high-school bartender pretend to be Tom Cruise from Cocktail. Value. It’s subjective.

And, what about when the planets are in align, and reception for films like The Dark Knight, and DeadpoolCaptain America: Civil War are fairly balanced out by both critics and fans alike? That doesn’t happen often but it does, and when it does, demonstrates just how wrong Ostrander is about anti-blockbuster bias. Critics bitch because they demand better (had critics and fans not trashed the hell out of Joel Schumacher’s Batman films, Hollywood would still be making them, and we never would have gotten Chris Nolan’s wildly acclaimed The Dark Knight) . Fans on the other hand, are generally just happy to have gotten anything at all.

Category: Film

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