Friday, May 20, 2005

Are movie critics puritans?

Nick Gillespie's meta-review of Episode III takes an interesting line (the movie is crap, but who cares?). He also makes a point that I had not considered:
The enormous Star Wars industry—the movies, the cartoons, the toys, the pop-cult references—still generates interest, excitement, pleasure (this last is something that most critics, whether liberal or conservative find absolutely terrifying), and, most important, a cultural conversation worth having.
H.L. Mencken wrote:
Puritanism—The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.
(frequently mis-quoted as "having a good time" instead of "happy" ; quotation via Bartleby)

It strikes me that many of the reviews of Episode III that I have read are by people who openly state that they dislike Star Wars. That such people are negatively reviewing Episode III is hardly a surprise, but their reviews are not merely negative, they are couched in terms that verge on the hateful. I had previously assumed that this was merely about visibly distancing themselves from the "childish" fans who actually delight in these films, but Nick's assertion led me to consider whether this was more than simple posturing, whether in fact some (many? most?) professional critics are actually panicked at the thought of others (or themselves?) experiencing pleasure/joy/delight in watching a film and are therefore driven to distance themselves from sharing this by a phobia, rather than disdain.

(Is disdain phobic anyway? Too many questions for one post perhaps.)

I'll be seeing Episode III for the first time tomorrow and, as an avid fan, look forward to a delightful if "light" piece of entertainment. And no Jar Jar Binks.