Friday, March 5, 2010

Objective Dismissal Of Subjective Views

A while back, I watched the movie A Series Of Unfortunate Events with some friends of mine. I didn't particularly enjoy watching it. The cinematography was nice, but the general concept of "kids point out the obvious, adults don't listen" grated on my nerves like nails on a chalkboard. It's simply something I find more frustrating then fun to watch. When I expressed this feeling after watching the film, one of my friends had this to say:

"What you have to keep in mind is that this is a children's movie."

I will post here essentially what I said then, and that is "no, I don't." Were I asserting that the movie shouldn't have been done that way, or that it was a foolish choice on the part of the writers, then yes, pointing out that it's a children's movie as a counterpoint would make sense. Children easily find themselves in scenarios where adults are dismissive of what they have to say, and having such a plot in a film geared towards children makes objective sense.

That, however, has nothing to do with what I was saying. All I did was express my opinion about whether I enjoyed watching it and what in particular bothered me. That is not the same thing as being opposed to the film in general, and it didn't warrant a lecture on who the target audience was, particularly when the target audience was blatantly obvious given that the movie was produced by Nickelodeon Movies and every last preview was for a kids movie. They might as well have called me an idiot.

There have been other times when I've had to cut people off in the middle of a lecture on the obvious in response to me simply expressing matters of personal preference. I commented on the show Warehouse 13 in regard to the recurring villain and the fact that I'd prefer it if they just stuck to standalone stories. A lecture began, and I quickly butted in and rapidly explained for them why it makes sense from a behind the scenes perspective and put forth my own statement of the obvious in that I was merely expressing what I personally would have preferred.

In short, I think most people know there is a difference between what they would like to see and what might make the most logical commercial sense. I would like to encourage people to not assume that others who simply state their preferences and what they'd like to see are saying more than what they are.

That said, it is sort of refreshing to hear people considering production choices from a behind the scenes perspective. Their are plenty of people who make their arguments about how movies, shows, etc. should be done without considering that, and perhaps they should be lectured at times. Myself and many other people, however, are not ignorant of behind the scenes concerns.

In my case, it's particularly frustrating when some friends of mine who are aware that I take interest in behind the scenes stuff, listen and reads tons of production commentary, AND have a web comic where I deal with behind the scenes matters first hand seemingly jump to the conclusion that I have no appreciation for what's going on behind the scenes. It's like "hi, I'm Dan. Have we met?"


  1. Nice, I don't care for that movie either, and I like certain kid's movies. That movie was dull and irritating.
    Thank you.

  2. I rather enjoyed the movie, but it wasnt the brilliance that is the book series. I reccomend reading one of the books in the series to get a better feel for the authors sense of humor/satire.

  3. Well said. Sometimes an opinion is just an opinion.

    Of course, I personally like pointing out the obvious behind the scenes reasons to annoy people like you. However even I would draw the line at "remember it's a kids film" as a justification for why someone should like something.

  4. I never watched the movie, despite having read and enjoyed a few of the books, and here's why:

    1) They appeared to have "dumbed it down" under the assumption that kids wouldn't get it otherwise.

    2) They took two books that each would have made a good movie and turned them into a single movie.

    3) Jim Carrey is at his best when he's allowed to be subtle, as well as zany. This movie was made at the peak of "That wild-and-wacky Jim Carrey" period.

  5. Not to mention the whole idea of the broken aesop "You can't trust Adults to listen to you about important things", when kids SHOULD be encourage to talk to adults when there are problems.

  6. "It's a Kids' Movie" is no excuse for it to be over-simplified, dumbed-down rubbish. I disliked (or hated) most of the D*sney live-action films WHEN I WAS A KID because of this.
    (Insert rant about what happened to the Xanth series here)

  7. Totally agree with what you said about warehouse 13. Should at least waited until a second season for having an overall season plot.

  8. I read all the books, and saw the movie, and agree that the "smart kids let down by clueless adults" is grating. If you've not read the books... that seems to be the major theme of all of them. Clever, but soulless. Cynical. They were entertaining, but I hesitate to call them enjoyable by any meaningful definition. I have to go back to the Harry Potter series, or some of my classic SF (Heinlein, Sturgeon, Spider Robinson) to rinse out the stains.