Criticizing media is nothing new; Mark Twain remarked of Jane Austen, “Every time I read Pride and Prejudice, I want to dig her up and beat her over the skull with her own shin-bone.”
But now, a critical opinion can quickly spread, and be taken up by hordes of Internet warriors, and infect the reception a movie, book or other artistic work receives.
Even those who haven’t seen something will talk (well, write) about how horrible something is.
This was brought to my attention when the movie musical “Cats” came out — really, before it came out — when the trailer dropped, and some people savaged it.
It might be helpful to know that the musical itself came out when I was a freshman drama major.
To tell the truth, it didn’t resonate with me. I didn’t like the music, and so I didn’t jump on the “Cats” bandwagon.
In rather a contrary way, I wanted to see the movie because of the negative pre-publicity it had received.
The CGI (compter-generated imagery) was criticized, the addition of a character, the new song, the casting — apparently, it was to be a horrific cinematic experience.
So I went and saw it. And my impression: I found it very entertaining. The dancing was amazing and, with the exception of Rebel Wilson’s turn as Jenny Anydots, I really enjoyed it.
Oh, you can quibble with some of the CGI, and yes, it might be a bit weird to see people acting cat-like, but if you go to see “Cats,” you know what you are getting.
Too often, I see things being criticized for what they are. Comedies are criticized because they are not dramas, and dramas for lacking laughs. The critics ripped “Cats,” and it tanked.
The various “Star Wars” films have been ravaged by their so-called fans. Toxic fandom has so colored the creative process that artists find themselves unable to participate in social media.
It is the downside of the Internet, the ability for that which is corrosive to spread. But it can only have that sort of impact if we give it the power to sway our opinions.
Horses for courses, as they say. While Mark Twain hated Jane Austen, I adore her novels. “Cats” isn’t my favorite, but I enjoyed it and am glad I didn’t listen to the critics.
I’d encourage everyone to make up their own minds before summarily dismissing out of hand a movie or book, simply because some didn’t like it.
CHRISTINE BARR is an educator, mother of four and former Henry County resident who now resides in Texas. Her email address is email@example.com.