Sunday, June 03, 2007

Nikki Had A Little Lamb

Remember the scene in Heathers where Winona Ryder's character places her fingers in her ears and sings Mary Had a Little Lamb so loud that she can't hear what is being said to her? So she won't have to face the reality she's being confronted with?

This story will probably remind you of that.

It started when Nikki Finke called Hostel 2 disgusting without ever having seeing it. This blatant display of prejudice stoked my ire, so I posted the following:

Why not be outraged and e-mail her a challenge? Such a venomous spitball of reactionary hate deserves some kind of rebuttal.

She then e-mailed me, and I replied - both parts of which can be read in a previous post.

And of course, the conversation went on from there. She e-mailed me saying:

[EDIT: I have deleted the content of her e-mail as it was offending some readers that I had included it (they'd rather her replies be deleted and replaced only by my comments on them. Weird). Suffice to say, she accused me of failing any mature dialogue between the two of us and remarked that she was amazed by my inability to believe people are offended by torture porn. Of course - her mistake there is twofold: one, I can most definitely believe it; two: she has categorised Hostel 2 as torture porn. Which is a daft label for any mainstream horror film at best, innacurate at worst and - definitely - applied without her even having seen the film. You can infer the rest of what she said from my reply e-mail which follows in a few lines]

And as far as I'm aware, I can reproduce the above as I please because, frankly, relevent excerpts are valid reportage. [EDIT: So I did reproduce her e-mail until people wanted it gone, so I removed it rather than offend readers]

I replied to her e-mail with the following:

As far as I can see it, Nikki, you are most definitely free to do the following:

a) be offended by torture porn
b) urge people to not reward that kind of disgusting moviemaking

What you have done, and have (here at least) damaged your reputation by doing, is

a) declared a film 'disgusting' and insinuated it is without merit, without even seeing it first

b) attempted to prejudice other people similarly

Go see Hostel 2, then review it however you wish. That simply won't be the same thing as slurring a film you haven't even bothered to watch before slamming it with a very serious label.

And some (many? most?) would say, slamming it with this label most innacurately.

The end to this I would recommend is your actual review of Hostel 2 based upon a viewing of the film and an admission that all of your previous comments were not based upon the film at all, but rather your prejudiced assumptions.

Meanwhile, one reader of this site sent her the following:

Dear Nikki Finke

I'd like to submit my future review of the last ever Harry Potter film. It's not yet finished, but it is disgustingly magical. Almost magic porn. I've not seen it, but it is amazing. It puts me in mind of Hostel 2 save the violence is swapped with fluffy owls, the blood with magic dust and the boobies with pulsating long wands. I hope Warner don't mind my advance review, but it seems that you don't mind reviewing films before they've been seen. You've lost all credibility in our eyes.

The final e-mail - so far at least - has come from Ms. Finke. Here's the important bit:

[EDIT: Of course - I deleted this also. She said it was shameful that I reproduced her e-mail - seems that she too would simply like me to report her opinions without actually allowing her a quote. Then she said that her reputation was 'fine' - well, not (as I said) with me. I don't presume to speak for anybody else. And then she announced that she'd filtered my e-mail address so that anything I sent her would go staright to her trash folder. And... er... as far as any of you know she could have called me a motherf*cker, threatened death to Muslims/Christians/Hindus everywhere (delete as appropriate) or implied that anybody with homosexual urges should be gutted, turned inside out and worn as a hat - but you'll never know exactly what she said, only my version of it, because the world has voted and that was their preference. Anyway... the key bit was her trashing any correspondance from me, ensuring my e-mail went straight to her trash]

But, readers, your e-mails will not. You can drown out Mary Had a Little Lamb. But please, please don't spam her or send her anything thoughtless. This is only worth doing if you argue your case logically and sensibly.

The point has been made now and Nikki Finke has had her prejudice exposed. She is a woman with a platform from which her opinions of films and filmmakers are broadcast far and wide and, as far as she's concerned, it's okay for those opinions to be nothing more than unsubstantiated attacks. Her perjurious rants can spread and discolour public opinion of a film and, sure, most people won't see anything wrong with that but I'm afraid I do.

If Ms. Finke requests, I think I will remove all of the content of this post that comes from her e-mails. Instead, I'll just paraphrase her comments and print my recounting of her points instead. Maybe she'll go that way and sacrifice her own voice in this debate, let me substitute a second-hand version of her reactionism. Perhaps she thinks that will in some way undermine my argument.

Back to the real issue: readers, why not go see Hostel 2 when it opens next weekend and form your own opinion after you've actually seen it? According to those that have seen it, it's really very good. I've seen the first one and, as I'm sure you know, I found it to be one of the best films of 2006.


Mark H Wilkinson said...

Back to the real issue [...] form your own opinion after you've actually seen it?

I am so going to quote this post back to you next time you start to opine after getting hold of a script before a film is actually released.

Brendon said...

Do so. And see what my response will be.

I'm neither stupid nor a hypocrite.

ron said...

Brendon...Dude, I think you need to step down a notch. Inviting people to mass-spam someone just isnt' cool. Of all the people out there on the web saying silly things, I'm not sure why this particular issue has annoyed you so much but, quite honestly, you're looking a bit like a jerk here. I read your blog constantly, I generally like what you like and agree with many of your opinions but... seems like you're getting really worked up here...

Brendon said...

I most definitely do not want anybody to spam her.

Spam would be meaningless, cruel and uncalled for.

Intelligent responses to her prejudicial slurring would be much more appropriate.

Her e-mail address is public knowledge anyway. It's not like I'm revealing a big secret.

The issue here is, frankly, somebody is explicitly slating a film they haven't seen and, truth be told, implicitly slating an entire genre with no basis for doing so.

I invite debate. She appears to be closing all doors to it.

And I really wanted to show her behaviour off. Hopefully she'll stop behaving this way then.

What did I do wrong, exactly?

J. Kyle said...

I've got to agree with the first two commenters. Of course you're free to call out bullshit wherever you see it, but continually lambasting one individual in multiple posts is tacky. And really, it's not what people come here to see. You're better than this.

Brendon said...

Here's some advice: each post has a headline. If you don't like one post, scroll down to the next headline and start again from there. It's the equivalent of the channel buttons on a TV set remote.

Or you could just navigate away entirely.

I have told an entire story from start to finish in three posts. In each chapter of the story, something has happened - a development. And I decided to share it.

The only way this will become news again is if Nikki Finke makes it so. But if she does, then I'll report on it. I've no idea how or why this could happen... but it might.

Anonymous said...

Isn't she the woman who also linked Oldboy to the college shootings recently? I think she deserves to criticism. At least this criticism of her is thoughtfull not like her knocking of Oldboy and Hostel Part II. She demonises films with violence in no mattr how serious or worthwhile they are. Its an elitist and condesending point of view.

susan-kitt said...

If Nikki Finke calls the Hostel films misogynist she is effectively saying the actresses who appear in these films are either misogynist, whoring themselves out to misogynist causes or stupid.

I wonder what Heather Matarazzo, Bijou Phillips et al would have to say about that.

From the workprint doing the rounds the film appears to be anything but misogynist. There are certainly plenty of misogynist characters but they aren't representative of the filmmaker's point of view.

Rich D said...

Let me get this straight-

You ask Ms. Finke to explain her ethically questionably antics, she dodges the question, you ask again and she claims you are the one being immature.

Not sure how that last part follows...

J. Kyle said...

"Here's some advice: each post has a headline. If you don't like one post, scroll down to the next headline and start again from there. It's the equivalent of the channel buttons on a TV set remote. Or you could just navigate away entirely."

One could say the same of this woman's website. Yet you chose to read it and you took it upon yourself to criticize her...not that there's anything wrong with that.

You criticize her, I criticize you. The only difference is that you are on the receiving end.

ron said...

It's not a matter of you having done something 'wrong' - I just wanted to express my gut reaction to the way you're handling this... which is that it all feels rather petty and small. Just my personal reaction, I'm sure others differ (although some obviously agree). Anyway, back to the good movie stuff and let's hope no more bandwidth is wasted on this.

So mad at you said...

It's always interesting to watch the immature try so hard to defend the indefensible instead of just saying "Yeah, it's terrible but we LIKE IT." I used to do that when I was a teenager and wanted punk rock to be taken "SERIOUSLY, man!!!" Then I grew up.

Face it guys (and dollars to donuts, most of you are guys), this new "horror" stuff IS sick, IS misogynistic, IS morally bankrupt and IS harmful to society. And you're more than a little sick for enjoying it. Seriously, you enjoy watcing pretty girls get tortured and killed. You won't be proud of this when you're a bit older. And if you're already older, you should probably keep that to yourself if you want to get within ten feet of a woman with an ounce of common sense.

But that aside, if you would just accept the inherent sickness of this garbage and embrace your own inner perversions, you'd have a much more defensible position when faced with those of us that still have a shred of decency left.


wow. it's so not cool to post private e-mails for public reading.

i don't know nikki's stuff well but from what i read about it elsewhere she likes to write rather emphatic stuff --designed to get people talking... so you're probably helping her by attacking.

and don't we all prejudge movies if we're being honest with ourselves? those with integrity try and let those prejudgements go when they're watching something but everyone i've ever met and everyone i've ever read uses adjectives they can't possibly back up (since they haven't seen it) to describe movies they haven't seen.

is her calling a horror movie disgusting any different than another writer calling an upcoming tv to film translation 'unoriginal' ... you know? isn't it a safe assumption ;)

I'm not sure what the big deal is (but maybe that's because i'm troubled by the "torture porn" movement myself) but you really shouldn't print private emails

droidguy1119 said...

She's absolutely right -- she has every right to tell her readers not to encourage that sort of filmmaking, if she wants to tell people they shouldn't go, then that's her place -- but that's not what she's doing. Someone should point that out to her. I'd do it but I doubt it would mean anything to her.

Brendon said...

Okay, so when I nexst edit the blog, I'll remove the content of the private e-mails, shall I?

If I do, as I said, I won't be rmeoving expression of what she actually said - ONLY HER EXACT WORDS. Her opinions will still be represented. So... isn't it preferable that she's allowed to speak for herself?

notmadatyouatall said...

hey, somad -

first of all you saypunk rock shouldnt be taken seriously - tell that to the millions of musicologists and music historians

then you are passing judgment on 'new horror stuff' as a way to slate hostel 2 when in fact, theres no reference to you having seen the film either.

youre doing just what nikki finke did.

and then you say that brandon doesnt have a shred of decency left. thats really not cool at all.

No Harm said...

how are horror films harming society? no nonsense please, only facts. if you can.

Harmen said...

You know, i dont mind if someone urges me not to go to a movie. I don't really care if someone recommends me to not encourage a form of moviemaking. Why? Because it's just that: a recommendation. Nothing more and nothing less. What i however have read about miss Finke is that not only is she saying to her readers that everybody who sees Hostel 2 and likes it is sick, but also says that people like Eli Roth are sick. And she's saying al this mean-spirited stuff while she hasn't even seen the movie? That's not reviewing or previewing. That's downright slander. I'm going to have to go with Brendon on this one. See the movie first and then judge on how good is.

Besides, i have never heard such crap as that horror movie's are a danger to society. Jesus Christ, movies like Saw or Hostel don't have shit on films like The Shining i can tell you. That and seriously folks. It's just a fricking movie.

Now books, those ARE dangerous.(don't believe me? Look at how many wars have caused by books like The Bibel and The Koran, and thi coming from a religious person mind you).

Jim said...

Roth's film sucks. The fact that people are trumpeting this issue like it's some kind of First Amendment violation is ludicrous; the guy is a hack, and he should stick to making 3 minute fare like the Thanksgiving trailer.

And oh, it IS torture porn, for the record. Paper-thin plot, cheesy gore set pieces briefly interrupted by horrible dialogue and bad acting. Defending this guy like he's the second coming of Mapplethorpe makes you look bad.

So Mad at Your Torture Porn said...

"how are horror films harming society? no nonsense please, only facts. if you can."

Fair enough. And for you, How are they BENEFITING society?

Like I said, they're indefensible. Accept that, stop trying to convince us they're "art" and just roll around in the dirt like the animals you are.

At least that would be respectable.

And NO, punk rock is not musically defensible. It's redeeming factors were all SOCIAL.

Brendon said...

Punk Rock's effects were social, yes. I agree. Adn if it had a different musical makeup, then it wouldn't have had the same effect.

When you write a book, for example, the words you choose construct the meaning and values of that book. And those go on to have the social effect. Same thing with music, with the chords, the melodies, the arrangements, all of the components - and this is as true of Punk as it is Beethoven, Acid House or Elgar.

Besides things that effect society are probably much more valuable than things that only effect other music. Directly, anyway.

The benefits of horror films? Well, there's catharsis, for one thing - ever since Greek tragedy, and I dare say long before, stories of terrible, terrible things have provided a suitable outlet for associated emotions.

Going through a horror film and surviving is a good thing. Just like going through a fairy tale and surving that when you were a) three years old or b) a child in the Black Forest a few centuries ago. It teaches you that you can survive, and that's important at a very basic psychological level.

Horror films are only a subset of stories. Stories are incredibly beneficial for society. And I see no limit on the subject of stories being useful - indeed, the subject matter really should confront the most taboo, the most terrifying and the least acceptable. Fiction is a very good arena for exploring, interrogating and understanding such dark corners.

The first Hostel was a very smart and worthwhile film. It had something to say and it said it effectively.

The outcry over films like Hostel and Tideland today is as absurd as the outcry over Psycho was in the 60s.