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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

question of the day: Is it a spoiler to reveal that ‘The Fourth Kind’ is a total fakeout?

And there I’ve gone and spoiled The Fourth Kind again, at least according to Cole Abaius at Film School Rejects. Yesterday, he posted a long complaint about how elitist film critics who don’t really love film but love feeling all insider-y have ruined this movie by highlighting — sometimes in the headlines of our reviews, where those who would prefer to avoid spoilers can’t avoid them — that the film is not, in fact, based on reality like it insists it is. He wrote, in part:

[F]or some reason, it’s been open season on spoiling this film. I have no idea why, but leading up to its opening, everything from spoiler-warning-free reviews to errant twitter feeds were shouting from the rooftops about how what the film was purporting to be real was fake. How the entire premise of the film was a sham.

Essentially, people were running around making it impossible for those encountering their snark to see the film with fresh eyes. For, as you may know, not only is the film being marketed as the dramatic interpretation of true events, but it’s also presented that way. It’s central to the filmic experience, and that central premise was stolen from a ton of people (some of which may have loved the film).

This seems preposterous to me. If someone made a movie purporting to rip the lid off the sweatshop work conditions for the elves at the North Pole, and pulled that concept off with “secretly shot” documentary footage and interviews with “experts” on elvish working conditions and the production of legal documents showing Santa Claus’s long and litigious history of abusing his workers, and I don’t see how it would “spoil” the movie to say that, you know, there is no Santa Claus. But it might be necessary to talk about the falseness of the film in order to talk about whether it was able to be convincing about what it was attempting anyway. Which is the tack that I took with my review of The Fourth Kind: we know it’s fake, but there’s a kind of power in how it goes about trying to pull our collective leg about it anyway.

What do you think? Is it a spoiler to reveal that The Fourth Kind is a total fakeout?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTD sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)

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