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July 18, 2012


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Hey Glenn, for the record: my previous 'incendiary' Twitter bio was a quote from a rapper named Tyler the Creator, from his track Radical. I quite liked the juvenile, punk rock sensibility of that quote.

Second: people have been calling me a cunt online for a decade. When BATMAN BEGINS came out I received death threats real enough, with my home address included, to make me fairly nervous. So somebody calling me a cunt ain't no thing.

Just so you know.


Many a critic sees himself as Salieri, who may have his own fleeting success, but he is doomed to recognize the true lasting art hidden around him.

Glenn Kenny

Devincf:I know who Tyler the Creator is. I'm not a fan, but I'm not frightened of him; I remember when "Goblin" came out and the staff at Other Music was playing it on the sound system and my main reaction was "guy ought to switch to decaf." While I didn't recognize the quote as such I would not, on the other hand, be terribly "who me" affronted if someone were to call me out for using the term "honky" whilst quoting some old MC5 stage patter.

Sorry about people calling you a cunt. (No, I'm not being funny.) It's also fucked up that people put up your home address. I DO know how scary stalkers can be, and I don't think this kind of behavior is acceptable, and I don't want to be misunderstood as saying that what you do directly enables such behavior. I DO on the other hand believe that some kinds of rhetoric and the use of some forums can stoke a fire. And that "democratization," such as it is, isn't all it's cracked up to be. To be completely honest with you, if I'm gonna pick a fight, I'd rather pick one with Jarvis than you, because I think Jarvis' chipper optimism about this state of affairs is entirely a crock AND because his mode of existence is so utterly removed from it all (see also David Brooks). I'm not offering a round of "Kumbayas" here, obviously, but by the same token in criticizing your work I would hope I'm not putting up some kind of blanket ad hominem condemnation. It's pretty clear that we DO see "fan culture' in very different ways, that won't change.


Faraci often goes out of his way to bait the idiot trolls only to whine about how low geek culture has fallen. It's quite brilliant, really. Keeps those hits a-comin'.


Read and loved what (relatively little) there was of 'Starstruck' as well. It'd make an excellent double bill with Alan Moore and Ian Gibson's roughly contemporaneous, similarly-regrettably-uncompleted feminist space opera 'Halo Jones'. In comparison, 99.999% of Marvel and DC's output isn't merely left behind in the rear-view mirror, it's practically fucking Galaxy SXDF-NB1006-2.

(Did Lee and Kaluta ever complete 'Starstruck'?)







Peter Labuza

Well there goes the neighborhood...


Hulk is a classy dude. Great, humane writer, too. I remember his passionate, articulate calls for intelligent analysis of the HBO show "Girls" while Lena Dunham and co. were being slagged by snide, pseudo-macho, know-it-all jokesters ... like Faraci.

Glenn Kenny

@ FilmCritHULK: Thank you. Look, if I'm that far out of line, if I'm wrong in making Faraci stand in for a symptom, I'm open to persuasion. That's why I've got a comments thread, obviously. I made some pretty sweeping statements here, admittedly, but the presence of comments should be a strong enough implication that I'm trying to kickstart a discussion. That said, I don't think Mr. F. is correct in saying on Twitter that I'm standing up for people who make death threats. I'm not sure how strongly I need to come out against death threats to be convincing here.


I've never understood this obsession certain netizens have with maximum online anonymity. At least not in the Western world where knowing someone's actual identity could only be life or socially endangering in a very rare number of cases.

Most of the casual trollers could be weeded out by simply requiring that any posting be tied to an active email account. It's one of the biggest ongoing failings of Wikipedia that Jimmy Wales has this mania for allowing anonymous posts that has caused so much unneeded drama over the years (although, of course, Wikipedia has had to institute some controls to avoid getting the crap sued out of them after some notorious libel incidents).

The most sensible point that I've seen made about this is that newspaper, magazines and TV shows had a policy of only allowing comment if readers/viewers provided full name, city and in certain cases actual phone numbers/addresses (I assume to put people on notice that there would be consequences for possible libelous statements). Take a cue from them and put up a few sensible barriers to trollism. At least when it comes to sites such as this and others that exist on a more "mature" plane than AICN and the like appealing to teenage fanboys/girls or arrested development type gamers.

Although, this entire debate might soon be moot: many websites now allow commenting via Facebook accounts and some ONLY allow it in that manner. As this Facebook Generation matures and begins to supplant the earlier ones, we are seeing a complete 180 when it comes to privacy concerns.

*Yes, I am self-aware enough to realize I'm writing this via a semi-anonymous email account (albeit one recognizable to frequent visitors to this, MCN or Hollywood Elsewhere). But it is one tied to an AOL account that could easily reveal my true identity. I've been tempted to stop using these various alias, but the original intent still stands: I happen to know the owner of one of these sites. An owner with a well-known thin skin and mercurial personality, so it seemed prudent for the sake of IRL relationship to post from behind this "mask" online.

Damon Houx

I think part of the problem is that there is a Venn diagram here, where nerd culture is on one side and fan culture is on the other. To suggest they are all the same is simply not true, even if there is overlap. There's a huge difference between liking comic books and Star Trek, etc. and people who can't accept their favorite thing being viewed as anything less than perfect.

Yes, the internet gave voice to these people, and yes there is some truth to your "the chickens have come home to roost" argument. But to suggest a culture is represented by its loudest members is to not really listen.


I would appreciate Hulk's words if he gave the caps lock key a rest. Sheesh.

John M

Hulk defended Lena Dunham?

Well, I'm glad someone finally did. She just gets way too much shit. Her work should be celebrated.

Bruce Reid

Not for nothing, the most toxic online film discussion I ever came across was a Kubrick forum ripping apart anyone who suggested maybe they should wait and see the then-upcoming AI before declaring that Spielberg was going to make a travesty of it (let alone anyone who thought his version might have some merit to it). Fanboys you will always have with you.

Don R. Lewis

I'm not even stepping into the stuff you bring up regarding Devin but I think your overall comments regarding fanboy culture are spot on. And Film Crit Hulk is a true exception to the rule and I totally appreciate what he's doing over on Badass Digest which (I think) is showing how intelligent and learned he is but doing it in a way that engages the typically lesser learned "nerd culture." But THAT'S the issue. (and again, I may be wrong about his APPROACH, AS IT WERE)

The fanboy culture has become extremely set in it's ways as well as totally bullying. It's like some weird right-wing gestapo where those who don't like the geek-movie du jour are driven out of the video arcade. FC Hulk has to put his intelligent insights on a spoon and go "here comes da airplane...open up!" in order to pique interest and explain nuances that are usually very well thought out and intelligent. While again, I appreciate the effort, it's indicative of the root problem. I think you summed it up really well, Glenn.

And my issue with this fanboy "nerd" culture is that there's a pride based in ONLY knowing limited things like: genre film, comic book and video game lore and lording that over people. That in turn has trickled into the movie blogosphere where truly anyone who can put together a website can be a source for movie and video game reviews. Again, none of this is directed at Devin but at the culture in general and I will say, between the "Take Back the Nerd" piece and this recent spate of insanity over *gasp* not liking "Dark Knight Rises," Devin is keenly aware of what is going on here.

But I also think sites like AICN where the WRITERS are allowed to be anonymous as well as the commenters has created this sneaky, angry and creepy vulgarity in the fans of those sites and those types of films and games. As I think you alluded to above, Glenn....this nasty, almost staunch breed of nerds were created by this system and now they're coming after the makers.


Fan culture aside, STARSTRUCK is amazing, and miraculously back in print. Here's a very recent interview with the very talented Lee and Kaluta:


Glenn Kenny

@ Damon Houx: Interesting point. I wrote this in a real tremor of "inspiration," which I know is risky as what animates the argument is more instinct than anything else. But your distinction is worth exploring.

@ Bruce Reid: Yes, the Kubrick nuts, who fancied themselves data sponges in what they believed to be the tradition of the maestro himself, were a lively bunch.

@ Don R. Lewis: Thanks. You have actually crystallized what I want it to say and articulated the roots of the problem more specifically and eloquently than I did.

As for the Devin Faraci issue: FilmCritHULK is not the only person to protest that I'm mischaracterizing the man and the writer. Further, elsewhere it's been said that my observations here seem to have been animated by schadenfreude. I've never met Faraci, but we're not known to be friendly; going back to my objections to what I considered his insultingly reductive reading of "The Girlfriend Experience" (a really selfish and petty reaction on my part even if I WAS right), and moving up to a series of nasty exchanges on Twitter. I haven't been as considerate or as kind as I might have been, and I didn't care, because from my perspective the guy seemed to be playing some kind of gunslinger himself. Of course this should have made me wary of criticising him in any way, because the suspicion of me trying to settle some kind of score would immediately occur to certain people who'd been paying attention. This idea was not the animating one behind the piece, I stand by its observations, but the impressions of impropriety my choice of example led to are...well, entirely my own fault.

Josh Z

Putting on my devil's advocate cap here:

"And my issue with this fanboy 'nerd' culture is that there's a pride based in ONLY knowing limited things like: genre film, comic book and video game lore and lording that over people."

Similar things can be said about "film snob" culture, which often takes pride based in knowing arcane trivia about 60+ year-old movies (to the exclusion of knowing or caring about newer pop culture matters) and lording that over younger or less experienced viewers who may have difficulty relating to that point of view.

Condescension goes both ways.

I'm not criticizing anyone in particular with this. Just pointing out that one clique is not inherently better than the other. Where's the proverbial Big Tent when we need it?

Sasha Stone

Oh for fuck's sake. Glenn writes an incredibly thoughtful piece, one that might make all of us look in the mirror and check our own behavior and the comments are so loathsome most of them can't be read. Really? Lena Dunham in all of this?

I've seen a lot in the two decades I've mostly lived online - I've seen the rise of the geek websites, the near death of decent film criticism and the "everybody has a blog and can write about movies now gets into screenings and is a member of the BFCA." I remember when it wasn't like it is now. It's only partly fanboy culture - it's also the resourcefulness of the mob now. Look at how many commenters here don't even use their own names. You can all walk around so cocksure but can you stand behind your own rage? Glenn and Devin both can. But none of you others can. You are cowards. And that cowardice is what the fuels the group rage. People have always hated critics for tearing apart movies they loved but somehow the internet makes them feel like their dick is a.45 and they can start shooting with no consequences.

Every year at Oscar season my commenters get meaner and meaner. Every year I say I can't take much more of it and believe me, it has nothing to do with fanboy culture but Glenn is right: this is the world we helped create and the world we were all too happy to enjoy (as long as the checks kept rolling in, right?) - anonymous commenting means a lot of commenting. Make people use their real names or moderate comments and the comment count will be much lower. It's also the world the founders and builders of the early internet fostered: we wanted freedom at all costs. So this is the cost.

Also, we all reap the benefits of being on the right side of the fanboy fan base. I never got so much attention as when I championed The Dark Knight. It feels good until the worm turns.

But there is a solution. Moderate comments, delete comments, don't take any shit from trolls. That's my policy and it (mostly) works.

Anyway. I try to only use my name now because I've tasted blood anonymously and I know that's a side of myself I need to work through.

Devin, I hope you went to the police when you got those death threats. Glenn, I hope you keep writing thoughtful pieces like this.

Peter Labuza

@ Don R Lewis - Bingo Bingo Bingo. Even pass the point you made on FilmCrit Hulk, it comes back to the issue of what makes good criticism. Many of the reviews of Dark Knight Rises I'm sure will make ultimately similar points on this or that. What gets lost in that is the idea of, you know, writing. Yes, it's great if you make excellent, nuanced readings of a film, but critics aren't cherished for their thoughts, but for their sentences. Sarris, Kael, Agee, Farber, Ferguson (he deserves a place too!) — these people were great writers, which is why we continue to pour over their sentences. I've tried reading Mr. Hulk. I honestly have tried reading a number of his pieces. He is a great cinephile, and has an excellent eye. But I cannot read that stuff. It's not just the caps. It's gimmick writing.

@ Josh Z - I'll provide the response, which I think you know exactly what it is, and as your comment suggests, you're throwing it out there simply so this response gets out. I watched "The Avengers." I'm going to see the new "Spider-Man" eventually. I bought my "Dark Knight" tickets the day they went on sale. I'm also out seeing Tarkovsky, Dreyer, and hey I just got back from seeing "Sugarland Express." How come no one talks about that flick? I don't see many people in "Nerd" or "fanboy" culture to ever broaden their minds. I think some members of "snob culture" can be condescending, but heck, look at how many "snobs" loved "Mission: Impossible 4." It was awesome (made awesome by great filmmaking). I'm sure there are some members of "fanboy" culture that do the same thing and do really want to check out obscure classics, but I would say I see more from my side of the aisle than the other.

@ Sasha - No one on the Internet has bigger balls than you.Never change.

@ Glenn - PAY THA DOCTORZ BOI. This was a great piece. And I hope your foot is doing okay.

Dan Coyle

If Devin "I think everyone here is cosplaying as type 2 diabetes" Faraci is supposed to be a good nerd, then I don't mind saying Michael Bay raped Optimus Prime.


I don't really see what's so complicated about this issue. I don't see it about fanboy culture gone crazy, or new media tough guys getting their just desserts. The culture doesn't need its Reformation, or its Enlightenment. People just need to be NICE to each other.

Nobody deserves abuse or death-threats. No matter what they've done. I'm not saying that we shouldn't critique, criticize, inform, or be honest with each other, but there's no reason why it can't be done in a civilized manner. That is an attitude that should be applied to ALL aspects of society, not just the internet.

And the thing that bothers me most, is these are fucking MOVIES we're talking about. Cinema is something to be embraced and cherished. Films offer entertainment, escape and enlightenment. They allow us to feel, provoke us to think. And most of all discuss with others. We should embrace each others' opinions, no matter what they are, as they offer a unique perspective into the human experience.

I don't know. Maybe I don't get it. Maybe I'm out of touch. Maybe there's something wrong with me. But I just keep asking myself, why can't we just be nice?

Jack Laughing

It's hard to for me to take anything Mr Faraci says in his own defense re: this post when Mr Faraci is the same guy who, while working for CHUD.com, relentlessly slagged Twilight fans for attending Comicon (THE GALL THEY HAVE!) and Whedon's Browncoats for even existing. Then he had the balls, while still writing for CHUD.com, to pen a lengthy explanation of his hatred of fanboys while also defining fanboys as a group he was not a part of. Did I mention he wrote all this while working for CHUD.com?

It's easy to hate on Twilight fans and Lord knows Whedon's Browncoats can get obnoxious, but mocking either group from the perch of CHUD.com speaks not just of hypocrisy but a distinct mental and emotional disconnection from one's own employer. Mr Faraci loves to sling arrows and likes to play the internet tough guy while doing it. If his life has been threatened, and his home address disclosed as a means of threat, that is both disturbing and wrong. But the dude sure seems to ask for it.

And yes, writing for a web site called "Badass Digest" (intentionally ironic or just plain idiotic a naming choice as that may be) doesn't help your cause if you're going to position oneself as, supposedly, something of an internet badass.


Totally with Sasha here. Glenn, this was a thoughtful piece that asks questions that, frankly, a lot of the film blogger community doesn't want to look at for exactly the reasons you outline. But I would argue that it's not fanboys and nerd culture that's the problem, it's internet culture and the anonymity it affords people to be assholes to each other in ways they never would face-to-face.

I've been writing on the internet for a long time now, and I can tell you the rabid hormonal mommies on parenting sites are as bad if not worse than some of the fanboys. I was targeted by an adoption mom group once for something I said they didn't like and while there were no death threats in that case, it was ugly. I stopped writing for parenting sites because the commenters were just awful to deal with.

I agree with you that, in the film sector, the fanboys are probably the most irrational and rabid (I don't think I've ever seen a Nora Ephron fan go apeshit over a bad review to the extent we've seen with TDK), but Christ, I got emails threatening both me and my kids for a Cinematical post years ago in which I dared to assert that Keanu Reeves acting style is wooden. Just nuts.

Does it seem to others, though, that the prevalence of the crazy in internet comments has gotten progressively worse over the past five years or so? Because it does to me, but I may just be hitting my maximum tolerance for abuse from random strangers and chest-puffing assholes generally. I can very much relate, Sasha, to the sentiment of feeling done with having to deal with it.


Fantastic piece Glenn, thanks.

But seriously -- is it no longer possible to write about ANYTHING without somebody invoking Lena Dunham? For fuck's sake!


Kind of ironic in a thread that descended into Sasha Stone doing her usual 1991 Oliver Stone "JFK" shtick of "I want the books open! I want names! I want to know the TRUTH! I want transparency!" we start off with both Devin and Glenn singing the praises of someone named "Tyler the Creator." Say, why isn't this guy, or Ice Cube, or Enimem, or any rapper ever, spitting flow under their REAL NAME? We should discount their art because they're not 100% transparent! I've seen Sasha and some of her peers bang this drum before, with this mistaken idea that the internet would be this civil discourse amongst wizened elder statesmen if we were all clocking in giving our Christian names, addresses, two forms of ID, and a blood sample. But really all it would do is get a lot more people threatened, and probably cost a lot of people their livelihoods.

Because, see, while Sasha can pet a Glenn or Devin on the head for PUTTING THEIR BALLS OUT FRONT and backing up their words? We're kinda talking about guys who actively make a LIVING from said words. I know this is very hard to convey to MOVIE BLOGGERS who have their head in the clouds and a tenuous connection with the reality that we mere mortals enjoy, but, see, Sash, some of us might wanna do a CR-A-A-A-AZY thing called applying for a job at some point in our lives. We're not being paid for our riffs, for ideas, for our blowjob coverage of the OSCAR RACE so we can make some FYC ad money. If you want the movie webisphere to just be people willing to put THEIR NAME ON THE LINE, you're gonna be restricted solely to "professionals," ie the same 30-40 junket guys and critics and bloggers who can actually earn a living from this. Some dude named Blake Dunlop of Reseda, California isn't gonna log in to make a fuss or an interesting point or work any kind of humorous or crazy or unique shtick, bring any crazy perspective to the scene, because to him checking out some movie reviews is a fun pastime while he's whilin' away the day at the office. This shit isn't LIFE OR DEATH for the rest of us, nobody's paying us for our opinions, so you wouldn't just be cutting out the true-psycho types who threaten RT critics or who represent 90% of Jeff Wells' reader base.... You'd be leaving out a lot of smart, funny people who make the movie blogosphere worth reading on a daily basis, but who don't necessarily feel the need to post a photo and fucking background info to saying "Emma Stone is hot" or whatever.

I really feel like I could beat this drum a thousand times a day, and the people who actually do get paid will NEVER appreciate it, so far removed from the workaday existence of jobs and paychecks and direct deposit and HR meetings and resumes and applications are they. Shit, what's in a NAME anyway? I'm a pretty fucking forthcoming dude about my flaws and foibles and fetishes, isn't that worth at least something vs. some Duluoz Gray-type nightmare psychopath or some cretin on YouTube who could be anyone, anywhere thinking he's fucking Francis Dollarhyde or the Joker or some shit? Like some dude on H-E who I think is funny, like a "George Prager" or "Ira Parks," would they be any more or less funny if they were posting with their fucking ADDRESS attached to every post to keep them in check? Shit, if it's your LONE SOURCE OF INCOME, then, yes, your NAME IS ON THE LINE. Some strokeoff idiot in a AICN DARK KNIGHT thread needn't convince me of his credentials or his legitimacy.

Paul Duane

Again with the Breaking Bad? Yes, it IS art. So is The Merchant of Four Seasons, and they have a lot in common. That apart, excellent piece, excellent comments.

Glenn Kenny

@ Paul Duane: I KNOW. Poor choice of example. As the song says, it was the heat of the moment. It's funny: after I wrote this, I was expected at a little get-together of film critics in the neighborhood, one of whom was Matt Zoller Seitz, and when I saw him I was very "Hey, I wrote this thing and I said this thing but I DIDN'T MEAN YOU!" Because I didn't...but I felt bad anyway. It was the wrong hobbyhorse.

It's a tough point to make without looking odd because most of the shows championed by the people I'm complaining about actually ARE good. What am I gonna do, be seen as putting down "Louie?" But my point has less to do with what gets praised than the terms in which it's praised, and the agenda represented by those terms.

Shane Dobbie

Have you ever gotten into an argument with your kids? Or someone else's kid for that matter. An argument that goes on an on until you realise that you're arguing with someone who has no idea what they're talking about, hasn't lived enough to form an intelligent opinion, and, gasp, might just be enjoying the attention?
That's basically what I see this boiling down too. We're arguing with 13 year old boys who think their opinion is worth something because they saw Tron before the sequel came out, and once read a really clever article about Blade Runner. We spend a lot of time arguing with someone whose opinion of film is still purely emotional. I'll put money on most everyone here having a 'teenage' film selection that they defend to the death on a regular basis. Yes?
Worrying death threats and colourful use of language aside, are we not just arguing with our younger selves? I'm old enough to have had my teens in a pre-internet time so I had to settle for arguing with friends (not that I don't love you all on here) but, if I had to do it all again today, then i'm sure i'd be venting my immature thoughts to anyone with the attention span long enough to read a couple of paragraphs (No jokes at the back please).
The majority of today's critics, like Devin, are/were just young guys in the right place at the right time. They caught the wave and rode it along. They are the film critics for the Internet generation, and their audience (for better or worse) is the young fanboy. The old school 'print critics' like Glenn, who come from a more intellectual, theoretical, film studies place, are slowly dying out. When the average (hollywood) film-maker seems to know nothing about film theory and has a very basic grasp of technique(just shake a camera about, it's easy) then what hope is there for proper film criticism?


Devin is probably 5-10 years younger than Glenn; Dude is circling 40, as is Harry, as is Drew, if they're not already past it. It's officially Old Man O'Clock if you're seriously shooing the Faracis and McWeenys off your lawn; Yes, their fan BASE is probably younger and even more the cliche you speak of, but all those guys are the same age, if not OLDER, than Pauline Kael was when she was in her prime, or Farber in his prime, etc etc.

Also if you're not experiencing film "emotionally," or "viscerally," then you're just focused on these scholastic, ARBITRARY tenets of Film Theory... Watching a movie almost exclusively for its "ideas," with little regard for aesthetics, emotion, colors, acting, music, sheen, etc, is akin to that old tired line about "dancing about architecture." The Robin Wood school of ideas-based criticism is as much a lie as Harry Knowles telling you about the dump he took before the movie.

Without our emotions, what are we? I would never want to experience cinema only from some detached intellectual remove... Even like a JEAN PIERRE GORIN would probably sit around watching Howard Hawks movies just for the visceral, emotional, relatable thrill of it. Maybe some of their, my, generation, do hold on too tightly to these formative memories of 1982 HBO showing "Looker" and "Take this Job and Shove it" all day and "Wolfen" and "Nighthawks" all night, but that shared, collective Gen X experience of processing the artform through nostalgia and repetition is all I have... memories and time past and truly LOVING MOVIES, loving the experience, loving excitement and emotion and images... not sussing out some sociohistorical jerkoff thesis like we're trying to pull shit out of our ass for a term paper on the Mulvey Gaze in Dana Polan's History of Cinema 101 with our Wood and Bordwell Thompson tucked under our arms, chain-smoking in the student union. To write off the "younger generation" -- ie, dudes like Devin or Drew who are OLDER THAN BURT YOUNG WAS IN ROCKY II-- smacks of smuggery.

Winner, as usual, me.

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