Like many people, I’ve actually been looking forward to Iron Man 3‘s release. Not the movie itself, but rather one of its byproducts: the tsunami of diarrhea that crashes down upon any negative reviews. As last year proved, it was often much more entertaining than the movies these Keepers of the Faith were rattling sabers over. Well, at least before fatigue set in, which made me keep reaching for a bottle of Jack that just wasn’t there.
Probably because last year’s vitriol (particularly the delightful response to Amy Nicholson’s Marvel’s The Avengers review) got out of control, Rotten Tomatoes saw fit to close comments on its own site. This closed off outlet for instant gratification might be partially responsible for why fanboy response (so far) has lacked the kind of unintentionally comical punch the comments sections of other superhero movies have. Fans are, however, touching on their core themes as Iron Man 3 picks up some bad reviews here and there.
“Get a girl and have some fun.”
“I guess you have seen another movie while thinking constantly at some porn site you were missing”
“Get a girl and get laid will ya?”
“Author sounds idiotic…My eyes are still orgasming.[sic]”
Right off the bat, sexual dysfunction of some sort plays a role in the comments section, with the implication that watching and liking the movie is healthy and virile (“My eyes are still orgasming.[sic]”), while not liking it is a symptom of repression and inhibition. This curious psychoanalysis gets reflected in the very first comment of Stephen Carty’s review:
“You stink. Such a stick in the mud and such a flat out jerk to be the guy to give the first negative review. I hope you enjoy the incoming attack, jerk.”
Everything comes back around to being pent-up and undersexed. Like characters in a Judd Apatow production. Usually in those movies, the women are relegated to being maternal, hen-pecking, and uptight, while the guys have to teach them how to express themselves (usually with dick and poop jokes). Coupled with the usual threats of violence (here limited to a weak promise of an “incoming attack,” as opposed to previous trolls’ often graphic descriptions), this is practically a series of domestic violence cases waiting to happen with all the “sexual=masculine” fans ‘attacking’ the “frigid=feminine” critics. Of course, to ask them, they’d probably say “bitch was asking for it.” After all, when Joshua Rothkopf writes about the series needing a “freshening up…after a brief flirtation with a Russian-accented Mickey Rourke,” what else is he doing but calling into question both the sexuality and prowess of IP nerds everywhere (consciously or not)?
“I doubt that you would be able to make a film half as good as what Shane Black has done…”
Which brings us to the inevitable result of such dick-swinging swagger: the “why don’t you do better?” argument.
“I’d love to see this critic do anything near as good. It’s easy to criticize. Look at me. I can say ‘this reviewer sucks’ as easy as pie. Yay me! (That’s sarcasm, Mr. ‘I wish I was a film-maker but all I can create is useless crap’.)” [From the Screen-Space review linked above]
Even more of the comments try to refute the review by writing their own reviews, all of which are just some variation of “You’re wrong! It was awesome! Special effects were great! 9 out of 10! WHOO!” Which actually disproves the “It’s easy to criticize” mantra, but I digress.
“Stephanie – I like your reviews of many movies, going back to your Salon days. But these big superhero (and superheroish) tentpoles… well, you just shouldn’t be reviewing them. You don’t know what to do with them”
While this is no “poorly written, self-masturbatory garbage by a self-absorbed cunt,” or “Ms. Lemire you are beautiful but u [sic] should limit your reviews to dramas,” it does have the same air of condescension and undeserved arrogance. Tired, fatigued, yet keeping up the same tune–reflecting what Iron Man 3‘s detractors say about the movie itself.
Curiously, all these sorts responses, while common on the Internet at large, only take on this specific volume and intensity in three subgenres: superhero movies, Apatow joints, and Pixar films. All three are dominated by boys dealing with boy things (Brave being the one Pixar movie to have a female lead). As a result of identification, fans begin to take possession of these products even as they’re really possessed by them, losing all sense of purpose to what the movies were intended for in the first place. This toxic mix of religious zeal and hyper-masculine sexuality more about their own need to feel big instead of small, strong instead of weak, erect instead of limp. Any attack on their products is an attack on their manhood, which must be answered with great vengeance and furious anger (why women are a favored target of these cyber-Talibans and Web-boro Baptists).
After climaxing twice last year (The Dark Knight Rises ending Nolan’s Batman movies, Avengers ending the opening salvo of Marvel’s movie universe), along with RT’s clamping down this year, we might not see the same high number of comments for a while. However, as the reaction to Iron Man 3 critics shows, IP nerds are determined to stay on message. They must: the best way to keep your stamina up, after all, is practice.