Remember that shitty, confusing teaser trailer for the recent Ghostbusters reboot? I’m sure you do. Was it really the worst movie trailer released in YouTube history? Apparently, if the ratings are to be believed. We can all agree it’s pretty bad. It’s when we talk about whether or not it deserves to the status of “Worst Movie Trailer in YouTube History” that we start to divide. I don’t think it is. I can’t imagine an alternative everyone will be satisfied with, but I’m pretty sure any trailer for Battlefield Earth is a lot fucking worse than the first real look we got at Ghostbusters.
Hate on the internet doesn’t need to spread organically. Something as innocuous as bad word-of-mouth for a movie that just came out, all the way up to deliberate, concentrated efforts to destroy someone’s life, now come with deeply sinister undertones. Or maybe possibilities is a better word, since we ultimately don’t know how these attacks on people and art are organized and carried out. Furthermore, we don’t actually know if there is a conspiracy in play at all.
But it all makes for a goddamn deep well of weird, problematic bullshit. Most of us understand the concept of internet mob rule. I’ll take things a step further, and say that most of us also understand that it’s a real thing. At the same time, it’s something most of us can’t pin down. People are trying to, though.
In the meantime, consider the oddly low IMDB ratings for a slew of recent, currently unreleased (to the world at large), critically acclaimed films. Is it possible that Kicks, an independent film that currently has a 78% “Fresh” score on Rotten Tomatoes, went on to strike out with audiences, hundreds of which took to IMDB to give the film low ratings? Maybe, but not fucking likely. It is difficult to fathom that hundreds of people hated Kicks so much, they took to IMDB to voice their displeasure, days before the film was actually released. When you consider that most of those ratings came from anonymous users who refused to offer background information, it’s hard not to become a little suspect.
I’m more than a little suspect. I am angry that movies like Kicks, Other People, and Demon are getting slaughtered on the Internet Movie Database, for reasons that we have yet to figure out. With something like Nate Parker’s The Birth of a Nation, the fact that the movie received several low scores in the wake of Parker’s rape case is something we can at least get. Whether or not you agree with internet mob rule being used in this fashion, you can at least see the logic behind what’s going on there. With the other movies I mentioned, we honestly don’t know.
A lot of that fear comes from the probability that all three of those films have been subject to separate campaigns to ruin their post-production lives. I don’t know if that’s your logic, but it’s certainly mine. Does art even stand a chance in that atmosphere? Will good people, maybe coupled with smarter social media campaigns, ultimately save films that would otherwise have their momentum obliterated by fuckwit trolls?
I realize that I’m running through a lot of questions here. I’m also not getting answers that I particularly like. The people who want to ruin art and lives seem to be better organized than all the good intentions, grassroots efforts, and angry articles put together. I can’t actually prove that, and my cowardice keeps me from actually doing the legwork to figure it out. I might be too cynical about this. I simply suspect that trolls destroyed any chance Ghostbusters had of being more successful than it was. I suspect that these trolls are going to continue to move across the landscape of people, movies, places, albums, television shows, books, and all the rest. Hundreds of unique, singular gatherings of miserable losers who will love nothing, die sad, and be missed by no one will create the larger monster. This larger monster will burn art and lives at its shit lord discretion. It will seem like one big effort by one entity. I don’t think it will be though. I just think it’s going to seem that way.
I believe in the notion that we can do better against these alleged people. Unfortunately, I don’t believe in much more than that.