These are the underplayed hates of our lives. Those pieces of media or artists that drive us nuts, but which, in polite conversation, must be deferred to for their “place in the cultural canon.” Fortunately, we are not at a dinner party amongst strangers, but on our website! Where we can speak the truth! (And even so, we’re still going to be relatively polite about these.)
These are a few of the things that we often pretend not to hate as much we do hate them — until we know you better, of course.
*deep breath* Here it goes… I almost never discuss (in full) my profound distaste for the films of Stanley Kubrick.
This could very well be holdover from film school days — when even hinting at any Kubrick critique or negative perspective would bring a class-ton of mansplaining down upon my poor, confused feminine head. In my vivid and all-too-real experience, engaging this particular discussion inevitably results in insults and a certain strain of passive-aggressive condescension regarding my artistic comprehension and legitimacy.
I’ve never actually argued that Stanley Kubrick be expelled from the cultural canon. I’ve never argued that he shouldn’t be studied and examined and pondered and wrestled over.
Ahem: I JUST DON’T LIKE HIS MOVIES! After all concessions are made, and interpretive, artistic due diligence done, it does not change the empty dissatisfaction I feel whenever I watch his films. I can intellectualize his films, sure. But at the end of the day they bother me, and I do not enjoy engaging with them.
Film is a visual medium, and Kubrick understood that. He filled his screens with kinetic visuals and staggering compositions and THEMES. Oh god so many fucking THEMES! But film is, in essence, still a visual medium by which we disseminate stories. That latter half is important to me. The Art of Cinema is vast and varied, and can be interpreted many ways. But ultimately the reason I love watching films is because I love (and am fascinated by) how they are capable of communicating stories. And I don’t think Kubrick told stories. His visions have always possessed this niggling, embedded idea that stories are passé and archaic, and that vaguely ego-maniacal thematic visual pastiche is where The Truest Art lies. And I don’t think that’s true. I think stories are worth more than that. Kubrick’s films will never be anything but hollow to me.
I’ve found myself hiding more and more that I absolutely despise 62% of the Harry Potter film adaptations.
It is incredibly annoying to me that these are held up as some of the better adaptations of a work of fiction to film, when once the books went above a three-hundred page count they started leaving out everything that I felt was special. The only excuse anyone ever gives for not including these things is that they were cut “for time.” Mainly this time appears to be allotted for directorial self-gratification. Prisoner of Azkaban is the worst offender, where the entire back story of Harry’s father and the Marauders is cut so that Alfonso Cuaron can add long tracking shots of birds flying around Hogwarts. So instead of the beautiful, personal moment where Harry finds out why his patronus is a stag I get that ridiculous Knight-Bus sequence. Screw that guy. This applies for every damn flashback they cut in the series.
Not going to lie, this was an odd one for me to write about because I’m not entirely sure refraining from swearing up a storm in public or polite conversation entirely counts as downplaying my hatred for certain figures and forms of media.
It’s generally how I approach Quentin Tarantino films. Or Game of Thrones (particularly in its most recent seasons). Or any of the X-Men franchise films (I pretty much wear this rage and disappointment on my sleeve), somewhat excepting X-Men First Class (though remind me to transcribe one of my January Jones as Emma Frost rants sometime).
Or take, for instance, Kenneth Branagh. Both as an actor and a filmmaker. I will, without hesitation, state “Oh I hate him.” And I do. The closest I come to not hating him is with Thor (which is helped immeasurably by the fact that he did not cast himself in the lead). The most recent Cinderella? Nope. Not even Richard Madden in tight pants could save that one. His Much Ado About Nothing? It is the centerpiece of a recurring argument among the Moose (with myself firmly on the side of despising it – go rent the David Tennant/Catherine Tate version on Digital Theatre instead. They don’t chop down Beatrice’s scenes and the director did not cast himself as the male lead). Dead Again? Don’t make me laugh. Not even a Emma Thompson and Derek Jacobi combo can save that film. Murder on the Orient Express is one of my favorite books and I am unabashedly LIVID that Branagh has cast himself as Hercule Poirot.
All of these are things I will say to someone’s face. The difference compared to more private conversations amongst my friends, the Killer Moose? Well. As I said earlier: expletives will probably outnumber the other types of words by a highly significant margin.
In the course of my youth, I was required to read The Tale of Two Cities twice. Twice dammit! It did not improve with repetition. Admittedly, part of my disdain may stem from being introduced to this hulking mass of “paid-by-the-word” prose at too young an age. But I care not! The damage is done.
I hate this book. Not for the word density, but for the insipid characters. Lucy with the stupid wrinkle in her forehead, Charles with his short-sighted underappreciation of the sins of French nobility and yes, Sydney who can’t think of ANYTHING BETTER to do with his life than to pine after a married woman and then die for her idiot husband. Ahem. Team Defarge, to put it mildly. To quote my mother, who was quoting T. H. White: “Innocence is not enough.”
Speaking of T. H. White — he created my absolute favorite version of the Arthurian legend. Marion Zimmer Bradley, on the other hand, created my least favorite. Dare I say, “my most abhorred”? And I’m including the ridiculous, leather-bikini-included, happy-ending version that is the 2004 trainwreck in that assessment.1
Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Mists of Avalon is oft cited as a feminist retelling of the Arthurian legend. I was told frequently that this was a book for me. I say thee nay! I say that these women deserve their stories retold with more care and less projected modern paganism! I say that a whiny Guinevere is not to be borne! I say that the way to make feminist books is not to reduce male characters to caricatures but to treat all characters as people.
Here endth my rant.