This is long, but please read it anyway.
Now they're shooting people in movie theaters. A man in Aurora, Colo., walked through the midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises and -- at the time I write this -- reportedly killed 12 people and wounded 50.
While a gunman walking through a theater killing people is a big stretch from some of the problems faced these days, violence is growing at theaters.
I've been to a dozen screenings -- those freebie flicks the studios do to gauge moviegoer reaction -- where fights have broken out, or where drunk or drugged-up attendees begin screaming at the screen or those next to them. One night, I was nearly assaulted by a very drunk man who would not shut up then threatened to seriously harm me for turning around and asking him to be quiet.
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The producers of films now have security at every screening I attend -- even if the screening is just for critics. This is for two reasons. They take cell phones and mobile devices from attendees so they can't record the movie and put it on the Internet and they take them because people are constantly texting and taking calls while watching movies and don't really care who they disturb.
We wonder why our young people are so violent. Kids see more violence per day than most adults. The cartoons they see on networks that broadcast them are fairly violent. A lot of people -- too many of them in my book — don't edit what their children are watching on television or in the web.
There is some really violent stuff on TV and in movies.
Here's one that puzzles me. People take their very young children to very violent movies. At a screening of Cabin in the Woods, a gory chop-and-slash flick, there were four or five children around the age of six.
If it was an exception, I'd be OK with it. But it's not. Young parents seem to think young kids ought to be seeing that stuff. Oh, I know, it's just fiction, right? That's the rationale. To me, it's child abuse. But as you'll see later, I'm an old geezer who ought to just go away.
Then there's Rotten Tomatoes. The site halted reader comments because critics of the critics were issuing death threats to those that didn't like The Dark Knight Rises. And those issuing the threats hadn't seen the movie yet!
Death threats are bad enough, but death threats and they hadn't even seen the movie.
It's a movie. Someone made it up. This isn't life or death. Actually, I'm surprised the site hasn't taken stronger action before now. I have been a victim of horrifying criticism from RT readers and from readers on my own blog atomictown.com. This is from one from one of the 78 people posting on RT about my review of Inception.
"I live in the town that unfortunately has to come to this self titled "mr movie" for its movie reviews. I have not known one person that actually agrees wiith this hack. Hey gary shut up and go re-sort your sock collection. I hate you! Not just as a critic but also as a human being, your reviews suck are illogical and absolutely biased. If you knew how to suck any harder youd be a hoover. Please do the world a favor, cut your eyes out of your head and shove them up your ass. Why? Ill explain it to you since you are stupid to figure stuff out on your own. So you can never watch a movie again!Actual front page lead for mr movies review " youll have to be smarter than mr movie to get much out of inceptio...page 7." obviously even your editor thinks youre a tool shed.”
Cut my eyes out? I wrote the guy. In person, there is no way he ever says anything like that to me. His response:
“mr movie please don't take your eyes out of your head. No I don't hate you, just wish you found a different profession, cause having opinions about movies, is not what you should be doing. I am tired of picking up the Tri-City Herald every friday and being forced to read your jaded over the hill, disney fixated opinions. Please please please stop the insanity.”
My answer, so don't pick it up and read it. Geez.
Other comments from Inception:
“go feed the pigeons and STFU old man.”
“Shave your mustache and STFU. “
“Get a better haircut you twat.”
And my favorite: “Your mom is so slow and so confusing that you may actually fall asleep.”
What the hell does my mom have to do with anything?
In the 60-comments on my negative review of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, I was called a douchebag, told I was retarded and that I probably hate puppies and flowers. For the record, I love both. Just not Scott Pilgrim.
I've mentioned this in a few other posts on this topic. A few days after being skewered for not liking the movie and for not "understanding" that generation, I was in a movie theater restroom. There was a 20-something guy standing at urinal trying to text and take care of business.
They're right. I don't understand.
This from my bashing of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen: "When was the last time you looked at yourself in the mirror? You look like a douche bag."
So what is Rotten Tomatoes going to do? RT's editor-in-chief Matt Atchity wrote an open letter and said the site is changing its commenting system. You can no longer be anonymous. "You'll have to stand by your comments, just like a critic does. So you'll still be able to argue about a movie you haven't seen, but people will know it was you."
My own editors have actually cut postings about my reviews because of language and offensive writing. I realize the editors of RT have a much bigger task, but perhaps some of that kind of editing would be helpful.
RT is off to a good start. But it doesn't solve the problem.
I'm not saying I have an answer, but I do have an observation. First of all, the anonymity of the net leads to feeling free enough to say whatever you want. The horrible things that were written about me on RT and on this website would not have been said to me face-to-face.
So Rotten Tomatoes decision to make people publish their names to post such vehemence is a good step. But, hey -- I can make up a name. Just saying.
Problem not solved. A better question. Why are these people so angry? Why have we as a society accepted and even condoned people calling others douchebags or retards or morons or idiots just because they have a different opinion?
Why have we as a society devolved to the point that if you don't agree with me, I want to cut your eyes out?
A few years ago, I spent a couple of hours talking with a young lady about a controversial topic that I'll not name. She gave me her point of view for over an hour. I questioned her. She questioned me. In the end, I did not agree with her point of view. She then accused me of not being open-minded.
How is that? I listened. I questioned. I was polite. I just don't agree. How more open-minded can one get? Because of my not agreeing with her, we are no longer friends.
We preach tolerance and diversity, but we are anything but tolerant or diverse. You agree with me or else. Open-minded means you agree with me. It no longer means you're open to hearing an opinion that doesn't agree with you.
Everything offends us. I was talking to a friend about the topic. We got onto religious artifacts at the office. Specifically, I mentioned putting a cross on the wall of an office. Her reaction was it doesn't belong there. It's the office. You're pushing something that I don't want to see.
Really? Is it that harmful? It is really hurting you that much?
A large number of people just do not seem to be able -- as a society -- to tolerate anyone or anything that differs from what we believe. I suspect most of the really nasty posts on RT and atomictown.com are from very young people. Let's say under 25.
Judging by their spelling, grammar and limited vocabularies, I suspect they're not very educated either. Or if they are, they fake it well. This is not to say they're not intelligent. I think they're just missing the big picture.
And what is the big picture? That leads us full-circle back to the point of this rant. People critiquing movies will tell you that their opinion is just their opinion. It's one person lucky enough to get to see almost every movie and write what they think about them. Those -- like me -- will tell you that they are just one person and have just one opinion.
If you love, Inception great. I am glad you did. That I didn't give anyone the right to threaten me. But we tolerate that. We even encourage it.
A solution? Education? Teaching real tolerance? Actually insisting that all of us be polite? Novel ideas that actually used to the the norm in this nation.