There was a time when you didn’t have this kind of access to a major blockbuster film whilst it was in production. Before the internet’s wider accessibility to home users in the early 90’s, you relied on magazines and television to give you a carefully stage-managed, imperfection-free look at one of next summer’s movies – nowadays, you just Google search and there’s Anne Hathaway in full Catwoman regalia on the Los Angeles locations for Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight Rises”.
You may be too young to contemplate that, but it’s the truth – you grabbed information in bite-sized chunks, hoping that a magazine would have some nugget that you hadn’t managed to glean from somewhere else and would give you another part of a bigger picture. I direct you, younger reader, to Den of Geek’s oh-so-truthful feature on the almost forgotten phenomena – the Movie novelisation tie-in.
Before Laserdisc, DVD and Blu-Ray special editions spoiled movie fans with preserved trimmings from the editor’s table, these quickly assembled retellings of the original screenplay occasionally gifted fans with ‘deleted scenes’ which existed in the script but never made it to the actual film (I remember George Gipe’s “Back to the Future” novel particularly well in this regard, with its scene of Principal Strickland crushing Marty’s Walkman in vice – remember Walkmen? No? You’re the iPod generation? Oh, get off my lawn, you damn kids). Good times.
The point which I am grappling towards is this – do we really gain anything from having this level of access to a film in production?
Point your browser at any one of a million internet forums and seek out a thread on Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight Rises”, Joss Whedon’s “The Avengers” or Marc Webb’s “The Amazing Spider-Man” and you will be greeted by a remarkable number of people who would have you believe that they have the absolute inside track on any film being produced. They have opinions, and boy would they like to share them with you, whether you are interested or not
It isn’t as though their opinions are worth any more than yours, or that they have any more analysis to bring to the subject – merely the fact that they, like me, have taken the time to type down what they’re thinking at any one time is supposedly enough to lend the vague patina of much-prized insider knowledge to their every digital utterance. How did we get to this point?
With most things, I suppose money plays a part – forum gossip and traffic in knowledge only serves to advance word about an expensive movie franchise-in-waiting far in advance of a release date and if you can get free publicity from having people talk about your project, that’s got to be a good thing, hasn’t it?
Well, not necessarily.
Christopher Nolan, the fanboy’s favourite working auteur has been on the other side of the magnifying glass, following the near-universal acclaim for “The Dark Knight” and “Inception”. The pulse of popular online opinion began to turn with the latter film, but the wave of ill-informed, wrong-headed, jaw-droppingly inane vitriol which has greeted every snatched paparazzo picture and hastily-grabbed camcorded capture of an on-location shoot for the third Nolan “Batman” film is enough to make any sane person wish to retreat from the internet forever.
I would suggest, being wholly and irredeemably middle-aged, that one should refrain from making a public pronouncement on a film in production until one has, you know, seen that finished film. Not so the internet fanboy.
The internet fanboy has as many sketchy jpegs of somebody who might perhaps be Anne Hathaway’s stunt double grabbed from a distance of a thousand yards to be able to say with absolute certainty that “The Dark Knight Rises” is a disaster-in-waiting. And what’s more, even though he hasn’t seen a frame of actual footage, he’s damned certain that Hathaway’s performance will be terrible, because she’s been terrible in everything. Well, not that he’s seen “Becoming Jane” – cause that’s a chick flick – or “Love and Other Drugs” or, well, anything with her in, but the internet says it’s so, so it’s the truth.
There are people pronouncing on all of these summer 2012 movies online despite not having seen a damned second of any of them. It’s the internet culture writ small – it’s perfectly OK to have an opinion on something, based on not very much concrete evidence, deride the source of your ire and be on to the next thing before the object of your hatred even opens in cinemas (not that the internet fanboy goes to a cinema, as this would interrupt his busy schedule of torrenting a cam-rip of a movie he was dissing back in the previous October.
To draw my observations to a blessed close I say only this – I post this not to bury fandom, but to celebrate the positive aspects of it. Geeks are great people – I proudly count myself as one of that tribe – but there’s always a subset of fans who seem to have forgotten how cool it is to get unfettered access to information and have begun to take it as a right, rather than a privilege. I’m calling out the entitlement complex which so many nerds have and the blithe way in which they assert that arrogance.
How about taking a second in your day to appreciate just how cool it is to have this level of access available whenever you want it, wherever you want it? I streamed movie trailers yesterday on my iPod touch walking around the house, without the connection breaking, in decent quality.
That shizz is science fiction, and it’s awesome...