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Are fanboys fascist?

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Perhaps The Green Hornet director Michel Gondry needs to ask himself what made the project bankable in the first place...?

Take it back! Right now!

In a recent interview, The Green Hornet director Michel Gondry told of his disdain for comic book fans. In his own words:

Michel Gondry"I usually identify with the nerds…but these ones just reinforce the social rules. Their values are fascistic. All those people marching around in capes and masks and boots. The superhero imagery is totally fascist! When you step into this genre, they feel it belongs to them. They want you to conform, or they won't like you. They want the conventional. But it's fine. The movie's been doing very well, I think, whenever we've screened it to normal people."

I have to say, reading his comments made me more than a little upset. Okay, I’ll admit, those of us who are fans of more cult media such as sci-fi/fantasy, horror, or comic books and their related by-products can be a little…over-zealous. 'Protective' might be another word that comes to mind, as might be 'loyal', or 'spirited'. But to just come out and say that a group is fascist because we want filmmakers not to stray too far away from the source material we know and love is just plain rude, not to mention uncalled for.

It is true, fans of any literary work can be overly protective of what they love. Haunting internet fan-boards will show that it’s not just the geeks. I’ve learned from many a Twi-hard what should and shouldn’t have been put into the films. Yet no one gives them as much of a hard time for complaining about the color of Edward’s couch as when one of our particular ilk points out the problems with a comic book movie. The casual fan doesn’t care about years of comic continuity or what Pre- and Post-Crisis means, or for that matter, that Han shot first. They simply want to sit and watch a superhero flick and pretend for a short while that they’re part of the gang. They want to believe that they can lay claim to characters that the rest of us have grown up with, and come to identify with. Characters that we have shared moments with, and been there through good times and bad. And when we point out to them how far off-base the films might have been, we are hassled, as though we’re some elitist group.

Maybe it’s a matter of too many long arguments with people who couldn’t understand why Batman Forever was a terrible movie. Perhaps I’ve spent too many hours on web boards arguing with “shippers” about why Clark and Lana would never work out in the long run. But I think the truth is that we’ve spent so many years invested in these characters and their various storylines that we almost think of them as a part of our world, and we of theirs. In the end, we feel that we have a right to have our favorite comics presented in a manner that we feel honors them, and doesn’t simply make a joke out of them, or that they are simply used as a means to sell tickets and toys. One only has to look as far as indie film hero Kevin Smith to see this.

"While Kevin Smith's script was faithful to the source material, studio heads told him that his script read like a comic book, and that they needed a script that would 'sell toys'. It’s that sort of disregard for the fan base that makes us more than a little guarded about comic book films"

Kevin SmithIn the early 90s, Smith was commissioned to write a screenplay for a new Superman film (a film that went downhill when Tim Burton became involved). While his script was faithful to the source material, studio heads told him that his script read like a comic book, and that they needed a script that would “sell toys”. It’s that sort of disregard for the fan base that makes us more than a little guarded about comic book films. These properties are big business in every sense of the word, but at the risk of alienating the fans who made the comics popular in the first place.

Add to all of this another big problem that comic book films face: the directors. The appeal of so many of these “auteurs” is that they often have a “vision” for the film - and if the books don’t fit the vision, they are changed. While it’s true that comics are routinely retconned by new writers, those changes are done within the comic community, and not by directors looking to make a blockbuster that will satiate the masses. Instead, such directors should be spending a little more time trying to come up with an original idea and developing that instead of taking someone else’s hard work and changing it to meet their needs.

So are we fascists? Is it asking too much for Hollywood to show a little respect to us when they insist on turning our heroes into marquee fodder? I don’t believe we are for one minute. So to Mr. Gondry I say merely that I will still watch your film, merely because I’m a fan of the character, and a fan of Seth Rogen. I may not be one of the “normal people” that you think so highly of, but that matters little to me. I’m part of a much better group, one that has stuck by the comics we love so much, even though society has, until recently, poked fun at us and made us feel like second class citizens for reading comics. And if your movie isn’t any good, you know who you’ll have to answer to.

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Comments 

 
#1 Too right Martin Anderson 2010-12-18 09:10
Gondry's comments show an unbelievable disrespect for what it was that made 'The Green Hornet' worth turning into a movie in the first place. But I think the extreme fidelity of 'Watchmen', and that film's subsequent box-office issues, mean that we may never again see such a faithful transliteration from comic > screen.
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#2 What a strange thing to say... Gabriel_Ruzin 2010-12-18 18:36
Interesting that Michel Gondry, of all people, would say something like that, considering his films all borrow 'comic booky' elements in one way or another. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and The Science of Sleep are very surreal and Be Kind Rewind is something that you could have easily seen in comic book form.

Those movies have a lot of different themes, like love lost in Eternal Sunshine or love of film and art in Be Kind Rewind, but they all use suspension of disbelief just like comic books. It shows an ignorance of comics to label comic book characters as jack-booted fascists.

And as far as Kevin Smith's Superman script goes, it was pretty decent until Jon Peters stuck his nose in and then it turned into the worst script I've ever read about. But that's another story. hehe
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#3 learn to read l spooner 2011-02-13 03:37
Quoting Gabriel_Ruzin:
It shows an ignorance of comics to label comic book characters as jack-booted fascists.


You need to read the title and the article again. He didn't call the characters fascists.
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#4 Oh, I can read, thanks... Gabriel_Ruzin 2011-02-13 04:33
"Their values are fascistic. All those people marching around in capes and masks and boots. The superhero imagery is totally fascist!"

No, he didn't call superheroes fascists. You're right. What he DID do was call the characters' creators and fans fascistic, which would ultimately make the characters their fascistic creations. So what's the difference? What part of Gondry's quote above confused you? What he did was call superheroes fascists indirectly, instead of directly.

If you're going to say that he didn't call superheroes fascist, but that they have fascist imagery, then that's pointlessly splitting hairs. It's like telling somebody that they appear to be ugly and, after that person objects, loudly saying that you never said they were ugly, but just "appeared" to be ugly. Not exactly a worthwhile clarification.

Don't get me wrong. I'm still a big Gondry fan, and it just goes to show that no matter how much you admire or like somebody, you'll inevitably hear them say something stupid, because nobody's perfect. But his quote was clear and nitpicking his exact meaning does little good.
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