The War on Fun continues. Or… maybe it’s over and we already lost. Maybe we just don’t know we’ve been conquered yet, and we’re the small pockets of resistance trying to keep movies and movie criticism a free place where people can unashamedly enjoy the films they like and dislike the films they don’t. If that is the case, though, we must continue to fight the good fight.
Today’s report from the front lines is all about nitpicking and plot holes. Before we begin though, let’s define a plot hole for those of you who don’t know what a plot hole is ( oddly enough the people who talk about plot holes the loudest).
A plot hole defined by Wikipedia (yeah, it’ll do for this) as “a logical inconsistency within a story.”
This is a plot hole: At the end of Jurassic Park: The Lost World, a ship crashes into the San Diego pier. It contains a T-Rex. When people board the ship, they find the crew all dead, however the T-Rex doesn’t get free until they open the cargo hold. Who killed the crew of the ship?
This is not a plot hole: In Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the first movie in a trilogy, we do not find out the identity of Rey’s parents. This is not a plot hole. This is an unresolved plot saved for future movies in order to entice the viewer in for further movies.
In light of the above information, it has been interesting to see the plethora of articles appearing on the internet that profess to discuss the myriad plot holes in the seventh Star Wars, and to see these articles contain the above example, which is a clear example of a non-plot hole. On a side note if you would like to see a quite frustrating example of this, go to the Huffington Post’s article: 40 Unforgivable Plot Holes in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. (Spoiler: One of the examples of a plot hole is ‘How do the Rathtars escape?’)
At some point we culturally lost track of what a plot hole is, and now a plot hole could be any slight, teensy, tiny thing that the movie doesn’t spell out to us. We no longer give a movie the benefit of the doubt and immerse ourselves in escapism, no, now everything has to be completely realistic to the point of boredom. Cinema Sins and The Editing Room and The Nostalgia Critic would have a movie be a constant stream of characters explaining their motivation with all cinematic and editing tricks removed, or they would have them be five seconds long. (I call this the Why Don’t the Eagles Drop the Ring into Mount Doom Problem.)
When a big genre movie is released, by the end of the following week two kinds of article appear. The first is ‘Things you missed in [movie title]’ and the second is ‘Everything wrong in [movie title]’. I tend to read both. The first because I’m a nerd for Easter Eggs and the second because I can’t help myself, especially when it’s a big, reputable source. I always think that some poor writer has been sent to see the movie with the brief that once the movie ends he/she needs to write a list of all the things wrong with the movie. This idea fascinates me. The sites mentioned above fascinate me in the same way. When I go to the cinema, I go with the thought that I’m going to love whatever it is I see. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. The idea of going to the cinema with the sole goal of finding fault in the movie fascinates me. As a fighter for fun, I tend to be the opposite. No matter how poor the movie, I search for the good in it like I’m Luke at the end of Return of the Jedi. And I’m not alone. Every one of you, hopefully, is the same, and you’re reading this now remembering how you spent the day after watching a terrible movie talking about how you liked the music, a single performance, or a single scene.
The thing with nitpicking a movie though is that it makes some people feel clever. It especially makes them feel clever when they are backed up by a genuine smart person like Neil DeGrasse Tyson.
We all like Neil deGrasse Tyson. As a species we always love someone who knows more about something than we do and who can then explain that something in ways that idiots like myself can understand. Characters like Bill Nye and Dr. Karl Kruzelnicki (he’s an Aussie, look him up he’s incredible) take the big concepts and make them small enough to digest and we love them for it. The thing with Tyson though is that he’s not great in just letting things slide when it comes to movies about science. When he first did a guest spot on Cinema Sins, it was for their takedown of Cuaron’s Gravity. And this made sense. Gravity was a movie set in space based on real space science that actually looked like it was filmed in space. It makes sense for a real man of science to come in and pick apart the science on screen. Actually, it doesn’t make sense for anyone to pick apart anything except a shady witness’s testimony on the stand during a murder case but that’s not what we talk about at Audiences Everywhere (sister site Juries Everywhere coming soon for that sweet law action). But, if you need to point out faults in a movie then Tyson and Gravity make a legitimate pairing. The only thing then was that Tyson would come back to Cinema Sins a few times more for Interstellar and The Martian. And again, even though I don’t like a person I like teaming up with something that is the anathema of my entire existence, I can sort of get it. Science is Tyson’s bread and butter and when a filmmaker, in an effort to show their movie is pure science and not kiddie science fiction, comes out and declares their movie scientifically accurate, it must make Tyson Hulk out.
Now, originally my ending to this article was going to be about Tyson’s Star Wars tweets at the end of last year. I came across these tweets clicking on an article that had a title like Neil DeGrasse Tyson Tears Apart the Science of Star Wars. I read it, in a post-Force Awakens high) and got quite annoyed. Who the fuck was this guy nitpicking my new favourite movie? I should get on twitter and give him a piece of my mind, etc, etc. What was odd was that I went back to this story recently to research this article and the tweets are nothing. There’s some jokes and observations, and the science amounts to the Starkiller Base being impossible and BB-8 not being able to roll on sand. They are harmless nothings, which, if they had been written by someone else, would have never been repeated. But the War on Fun is nefarious, you guys. Headlines like the above, mixed with Tyson’s Cinema Sins spots, make you full of nerd rage before you even read the tweets. We’re so used to reading about why we’re wrong to love the movies we love, that we expect assaults from all sides and headlines like Tyson Ruins Science of Star Wars or 10 Reasons You’re Wrong to like [movie title] don’t help. They just exacerbate the War even more.
Now I’ve gone over my word count and my original ending was the result of media brainwashing. Instead, I’ll finish with this: Like the things you like, and don’t let people tell you why you’re wrong to like it just because the internet told them something was wrong. Avoid articles with click bait-y titles designed to fuel your anger or click on them like someone going into enemy lines doing surveillance. Learn the techniques of the people who would have us hate movies to seem clever, and learn how to spot those things from a mile away.
The War on Fun continues.
Featured Image: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures