It’s Awards Season, that time of year when Film Twitter goes crazy. Trying to predict the possible winners for certain awards given by critics, guilds, international journalists, and the movie industry in general. Even we form part of this by doing Top 10s and personal awards to celebrate the films we loved during the year.
In general, it’s all good, we’re celebrating the best in film even when those who do so don’t necessarily reward the best. As a community we have grown accustomed to this. And that’s why we do our best to champion our favorite films, to let everyone know that if they missed it in theaters, they should rent it or buy it somewhere. So they can experience the same emotions we did while watching.
Not everything is beautiful and joyful in Film Twitter though. Yes, there are people trying to sell their favorite films, but there are also people who are trying to dissolve, erase, and destroy films and their reputations because, well, they didn’t like them. I’m against this, but there’s a right to do it. In the end, film is a form of art and like every work of art, there’s a level of subjectivity at the time of evaluating or appreciating a film.
The problem is that Film Twitter can become pretty toxic when they talk about movies they didn’t like or hate, to the point of intentionally offending people. Or, like I have witnessed recently, unintentionally. The last few weeks have been a storm of critical appraising and dismissal for the films that are possibly front-runners for the acclaimed Academy Awards. From The Florida Project to Lady Bird to Get Out, Three Billboards, and I, Tonya. I want to talk specifically about these last two mentioned.
A few days ago, while I was surfing my Twitter feed, I encountered a series of tweets that left me shocked and confused. One tweet said something about a person who was alarmed at how many people he considers smart loved a certain film. The other tweet talked about a guy who has a lot of very smart people that he respects very much who liked a certain film. Both tweets were referring to the film I, Tonya.
The person on the first tweet wrote a whole thread of his dislike of the film (he found it gross and hated it) and compared it to Three Billboards. He was questioning how people who hated the latter could love the former. All that is fair; you don’t have to like a film, especially these two which are very controversial in how they manage the use of violence to make people laugh, among other things. What I have trouble with is what those two tweets indirectly imply. One thing is to criticize a film, provide arguments to why you liked or (in this case) disliked them, and other totally different is to insinuate things of the other people who viewed, appreciated, evaluated the film different than you.
Even though I don’t personally know these two people, and they don’t know me, I felt attacked. Both films in question, although I didn’t love them, I did quite like them and thought they were pretty well executed. Especially I, Tonya. When I read both tweets (one day apart from each other) I thought: “Well, does that means I’m stopped being smart because I liked it?”.
Maybe I misunderstood, yet I couldn’t stop pondering on the insinuation of those tweets. Does having a point of view different to these people mean I might be considered not smart enough? That’s an awful feeling, especially when you think you understood what you watched in both films.
I’m a sucker for dark comedies. It’s a genre I’ve loved ever since I began watching films extensively back in 2012. I’m new to this, so everyday I learn more on how to appreciate film as an art form and to know the immense variety of artistic works it has to offer. When I watch a film, I always go in with the best of intentions. I never go thinking a film will be bad until I know it is.
Dark comedies frequently tend to have this problem with their audience. Since I’ve been in this, most dark comedies and satire films released have been very divisive. That’s part of the essence of this genre that, definitely, is not made for everyone. Both Three Billboards and I, Tonya are dark comedies, and because of that tiny detail, both films shouldn’t be taken that seriously. What I love about dark comedies is that they challenge you to discern what should be taken as literally serious and what should not be taken serious at all. It makes you question: “was this okay? Why I laughed at that? Is this wrong?”.
And in that process of analysis you might discover what the director wants you to take, his/her intention or message. Both films in mention use violence as a resource for laughs, at the same time it questions you if violence is okay. Obviously, it isn’t, but it’s there to remind you it isn’t. It’s even exaggerated so you can grasp the idea that violence shouldn’t be the way to go in life. It’s also used as a motif to represent how monstrous some of the characters are and to explain why a character might have turned the way they did.