Everything Wrong With ‘Everything Wrong With…’ Videos

Everything Wrong With 'Everything Wrong With...' Videos

At the Dissolve, Matt Singer unleashes a righteous rant against nitpickers, the online smartalecks at Honest Trailers and CinemaSins who whittle movies down to size by cataloging their purported flaws. This sort of "Film Flubs" trainspotting has a long, persnickety history, but it’s become far more popular with the advent of online video. It used to be that if you wanted to catch, say, the moment in "North By Northwest" when a boy plugs his ears with his fingers a second before a surprising gunshot is fired, you’d have to keep your eyes glued to the screen, but now that split-second goof, which is virtually imperceptible if you’re not already looking for it, can be cut out of context and pasted alongside any number of similarly minor and insignificant errors, allowing us to sit back and relax as we bathe in the glow of second-hand superiority. Smooth move, Hitchcock.

As Singer notes, these videos tend to pick their targets based not on which movies boast the most egregious errors but which have the most passionate fanbases:

"There’s something else at work here beyond simple popularity, though. As detailed in a recent study reprinted at Smithsonian.com, while “joy moves faster than sadness or disgust,” on social media, “nothing is speedier than rage.” Targeting movies with intensely devoted fan bases — like "Frozen" or comic-book movies — and pissing those fans off until they’re angry enough to share your work with like-minded friends… That can be very good for business. A video rightfully slamming an actual piece of junk that everyone hates has a smaller chance of going viral. (“Guys, guys! You gotta check out this ‘Everything Wrong With "John Carter"’ video! They nailed it!”) On the web, whether someone loves a video or is infuriated by it is totally irrelevant. All that matters is that they watch, and increasingly, that they share it."

(The Honest Trailers video for "Frozen," incidentally, thinks that Elsa is "manic-depressive" and the last great Disney musical was "Pocahontas," which suggests they could use some fact-checking of their own.)

But what bothers me more is the mindset these videos both foster and feed on, one which rewards approaching movies like a vengeful middle-school teacher, red pen clutched firmly in humorless hand. Louis Malle once said that if any of his editors were to win an award, he’d fire them, because if viewers were paying attention to the editing they weren’t watching the film. The same goes for the "Everything Wrong With…" crowd, for whom a movie is just an opportunity to crack (not especially) wise. CinemaSins, you’re no Crow T. Robot.

I’ve railed before against decoders, people who treat stories as a puzzle to be solved: Don Draper is D.B. Cooper! Rust Cohle is the Yellow King! Nitpickers are a variant of the same species for whom movies are less to be solved than outsmarted. But by constantly trying to stay ahead of the movie, nitpickers aren’t proving their smarts so much as their shallowness, advertising their inability or unwillingness to engage with a work of art and expecting to be applauded for it. 
That’s not to say clinical analysis is never appropriate: It’s a great tool if you’re looking to trace the way symbolism evolves throughout a movie, as in this close reading of Joel and Ethan Coen’s "The Hudsucker Proxy." But that kind of close reading comes from a desire to get inside the work rather than keep it at arm’s length, and it’s only effective when it remains firmly tethered to a sense of the whole. If you’re possessed of modest intelligence and enough spare time, you can find "clues" to support any thesis in anything. But to paraphrase "South Park," there’s a time and a place for that, and it’s called college. 

Disengagement can be a powerful act when it involves a deliberate rejection of a movie’s term, whether it’s the masturbatory violence of the "Sin City" movies or the paternalistic sexism of "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen." But approaching with your defenses up and your mind closed off is a great way to ensure you’ll get nothing out of the movie but the smug indifference you put into it. 

This Article is related to: Features


Comments

heezels

Frozen was a piece of shit. Who care?

Joe

Frozen was an extremely disappointing movie. These videos point out some actual issues.

Ryan

Have you seen the Cinema Sins video ON Cinema Sins? These people are simply stating things they found wrong with movies, which are often times true, and putting them into videos that make people think from a differant perspective. They even say themselves they have reviewed some movies they have loved. So what if they nitpick? It is there opinion and they just want to share it. If it truly bothers you that much, don't watch there videos… or share them for that matter.

Max

There is a sense of holier-than-thou in the videos, but I think the majority are done in roasting fashion and are just knocking something down a peg while celebrating it. But unfortunately many people demanding and sharing these videos are the ones who want to get back at the movie for being popular.

Max

Also this article doesn't link to the Dissolve piece it is referencing. Does this site have editors?

James D.

They focus on films adults should be seeing, so it is less important.

James

I strongly disagree with this article. "Nitpickers" aren't unable to connect with the movie, they're simply analyzing and noting what was done badly. That's the entire concept of film criticism. And if not for aspects of the films that are often picked on in these videos, what is there to even enjoy about the movies in the first place? I've seen most of the CinemaSins videos and I can say that they often note characters that are shallow or unlikable, plots that don't make sense or aren't very strong, as well as the smaller errors (continuity, character choices, etc.). I think this writer is just butthurt that they didn't see what was wrong with movies that they enjoyed. And on that point, how do these videos harm you in the first place? Are you completely unable to enjoy these films anymore? If so, I think you are the one who is unable to engage with the film. One more thing — this quote from the article, "But that kind of close reading comes from a desire to get inside the work rather than keep it at arm's length", particularly bothers me. For those of us who enjoy not only watching films, but also studying and analyzing them as an art medium, this is the dumbest thing ever. You do realize you are writing for a website that posts tons of movie reviews that require getting "inside the work rather than at an arm's length", right? Sorry to rant, but this is how I feel.

Andrea

The author of this article is the one that seems humorless to me. CinemaSins and honest trailers are funny. Yes, they point out actual errors, but much of it is joking/roasting/poking fun at a movie's expense. They've done movies I love, and I laughed out loud at their analysis. Didn't make me love the movie any less. The "nitpicking" is a lot less mean-spirited than this article.

Yellow Bastard

Frozen sucked.

Erik

"It is there opinion and they just want to share it. If it truly bothers you that much, don’t watch there videos… or share them for that matter."

It is THEIR opinion and they just want to share it. If it truly bothers you that much, don’t read the article… Or comment on them for that matter. Fucking moron

Frank

Cinema Sins is a poor man’s MST3k, and it’s furthering the idea that people no longer need to watch movies when they can just watch a YouTube video. Why see a movie for yourself when you can just watch it through the eyes of some pretentious jackass and enjoy it as much or as little as they did? I will destroy them, I swear, if I ever get any measure of power I am using it to fucking take these assholes OUT!!!! X^D

Jack

I love Cinema Sins. They vindicate my hate. Vindicate the hate!!! Please. Now. Forever.

candice

Not surprising this sort of thing irks "real" critics. Sam Adams and his colleagues consider themselves high priests. Anyone pointing out the cynicism and flapdoodle content of mass-market movies is a threat to the Church.

Nic Kamer

Honestly, I think this "Frozen stinks" fad is wearing more thin than the fan base itself. And "Cinema Sins" pretty much is an example of internet mediocrity.

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