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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

question of the day: Are geeks to blame for ‘Sucker Punch’?

Jonathan London at Geekscape has posted a downright desperate screed attempting to defend Zack Snyder and his Sucker Punch by simultaneously insisting that the film is not terrible and not deserving of its 21 percent Rotten Tomatoes Freshness rating, and also that if geeks hate the film it means they hate themselves. Oh, and we’re just jealous of Snyder, anyway. A taste:

[T]hat’s what Zack Snyder is. A Hollywood winner. Is Sucker Punch a great movie? Probably not. Is it even a good movie? Is such a subjective medium ever that black and white? Don’t simplify yourselves to the point of being incapable of critical thought (yet again). Art forms cannot be quantified in terms of “sucks” and “epic” and they shouldn’t be… Are the visuals too stylistic? Is the action too ridiculous to be believable? Is there too much slo-mo superficiality? Honestly, who gives a shit? If you are reading this on a site called Geekscape, you definitely shouldn’t! I thought the movie was a fun, visually exhilarating and satisfying way to spend a 2-hour, $7 matinee with a lap full of popcorn. It had a cohesive narrative, some cool moments and attractive girls causing big explosions. If you’re asking much more from Zack Snyder, then too bad. Much more isn’t necessarily his job at that point. And if you can get over yourself long enough, you might just find it.

And more:

Go ahead and blame yourselves for Sucker Punch because if you’re going to blame Zack Snyder, you’re the jerks who led him right to the front door. This guy made a film with dragons, nazi steampunk zombies, dancing women in school girl uniforms, samurai combat and Matrix-like aerial acrobatics. If you hate Sucker Punch, then go ahead and throw out your entire collection of D&D manuals, Bubblegum Crisis DVDs and Call of Duty games. These are the things we have loved for decades that we have brought to the commercial spotlight and now that it’s there we aren’t cool with them being celebrated? You sound like a bunch of asshole punks who are burning your Operation Ivy CDs because Rancid started sounding like Ska and Reggae! Do you think these messages are yours because they resonated with you when other people in your life misunderstood you (or even bullied you)? News flash: they were never yours. They were OURS, Zack Snyder included. Does he not get admission into our nerd club because Warner Brothers bought him a car for the box office of 300? Is it because he’s a good looking guy who is successful in our stead?

It’s because we’re jealous that we’re hating on Sucker Punch, see?

If Sucker Punch fails, you can still keep the safety of detachment so that strangers wearing normal clothes, with normal haircuts working in successful normal jobs won’t go into YOUR comic bookstore and say “hey, Sucker Punch showed me that I like dragons and samurai too. So, what are YOU about?” Or even worse: “Maybe I’ll make a movie about this kind of stuff.” Oh no! He’s going to make Superman! Wow! You care so much about your own Superman collection and personal memories of the character that you are already rooting for the film to suck? News flash: none of the Superman movies are that great! In part one, Superman spins the Earth backwards to turn back time and in number two erases Lois’ memory with a kiss? God forbid, Zack Snyder take a shot (editors note (that’s still me): just remember, Zack, that Superman gets his powers from our yellow sun so try and make the movie a little sunnier and brighter than your past films… thanks)!

If Snyder’s Superman sucks, that’ll be geeks’ fault too, somehow.

This is what pop-culture is and has always been. It is a giant mirror of our own creation and self-fulfillment that stands in place of any risk we’d ever ask of our own undeveloped personal expressions. It’s an enhancement of who we purport ourselves to be but shy away from when its glare strikes us directly (sometimes literally striking us in the form of a bully’s fists). So honestly, get off of it and get over yourself. If you want to hate on Sucker Punch, go for it, but do it on the grounds of what it is and not of who you are. Face it. The vast majority of the pop culture we love is sub-standard, dismissible filler which probably only makes it safer for us to love… So stop taking yourself so seriously and allow yourself to enjoy something that you believe to be yours when it’s been repackaged and given back to you. Recognize it for what it is, a celebration and personal reinterpretation of your own continued pop culture expression. You should be rooting for this film in the hopes that maybe its success will one day lead to you getting your Hellboy 3 (or even 4). Or root for it at the box office to succeed and become part of our collective language so that you CAN meet people who challenge you by being into other things. Quit being a snob and embrace those challenges as opportunities to find the confidence in yourself to finally write that screenplay or play that song out loud for that special girl.

I guess I’m off the hook as a geek to blame, since I’m a girl, and London clearly is talking only to straight boy geeks. (I doubt he was thinking of lesbian geeks who might be afraid to ask out that special girl.)

Are geeks to blame for Sucker Punch? Must geeks accept everything that’s geeky because, hey, they asked for it? And is it just me, or is there something disturbing here, in the notion that if you love chocolate cake, you must enjoy getting it shoved down your throat?

(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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