I’m not a Tweeting type. I go ballistic when anyone around me in a theater or screening room fires up a BlackBerry or iPhone in the middle of a movie, interrupting my concentration with a selfishly loud flash of me me me blue screen. (Lisa’s rule of audience etiquette: There’s no excuse for checking your phone in a theater unless you’re expecting a birth, a death, or a kidney transplant. And death can probably wait 90 minutes, since you can’t do much once you know, anyway.)
So I’ve got mixed feelings about the report I read via Gawker this morning: Movie studios are miffed that word-of-mouth, guy-in-the-seats, thumbs-up-thumbs-down opinions spontaneously shared by the Twitter generation are getting in the way of laboriously crafted studio marketing campaigns devised to trick potential ticket buyers into thinking Year One is funny. According to this kind of corporate thinking, what’s the use of working so hard to contain the influence of professional critics — by, for instance, choosing not to screen a movie for the press in advance, thereby stalling the effects of bad reviews at least for opening day–when any civilian can, with a click, broadcast her instant reaction to the latest Jack Black act?
Under the circumstances, the professional journalist in me who has herself been thwarted at times by (non)screening ploys goes, ‘hah!‘ But the serious movie lover in me has a different, considered opinion about immediate opinions: They’re not all that. Actually, I’ll go further: They do nobody and nothing justice–not the Tweeter, not the blogger, not Rotten Tomatoes, and certainly not the critic (either professional or amateur) who emerges blinking after the lights come up, raring to take a stand. The truth is, often I don’t know what I think about a movie in the minutes, hours, and sometimes even days after I’ve taken it in.
Here, three examples: Bruno (which Owen really liked) made me laugh, but also made me feel cheap, and I needed time to explore why. Public Enemies impressed me but held me at an arm’s distance, and I wanted time to explore how. The Hurt Locker blew me away, and I craved time not to think about it for a moment and just let the feelings overwhelm me.
You too? Tell me about your second thoughts.