Is ‘Babylon’ Twitter Just Snyderverse Twitter With Its Pinkie Extended?
Posting film opinions on Twitter these days may feel a little like rearranging Blu-Rays on the Titanic, but nevertheless, we all keep doing it. Lately, there’s been a new title at the center of the online movie discourse machine; Damien Chazelle’s Babylon, which recently hit VOD. And it seems like some of its vocal fans have been A) wildly overstating the film’s broad appeal –
– and B) blaming society at large for the film’s disappointing box office because everyone was too “dumb” to embrace its cinematic “ecstasy.”
Which, tonally, is not unlike another fandom that has continually made over-the-top statements about their favorite movies and raged against the “dumb” public for not fully appreciating them – except they happen to love a franchise featuring alien musclemen and slow-motion, zero-gravity hot dogs.
Obviously, a distinct segment of the Snyderverse fandom is unquestionably toxic and has been responsible for widespread online harassment, lobbing “countless death threats and vile slurs” at any critics who found fault with the work of Zack Snyder. That’s clearly not happening with Babylon and isn’t the comparison we’re trying to make.
But it is funny that the same movie fans that likely looked down their noses at the Snyder folks are now using tactics similar to many of those fans in their discussions of Babylon, blasting critics and audiences for not getting Chazelle’s “masterpiece” when the truth is, it probably just wasn’t to those peoples’ tastes.
Personally, I loved Babylon and thought it was one of the best movies of the year – but that being said, it’s nuts to pretend that this was ever going to be a film with massive, mainstream appeal. I mean, this is a movie that begins with an elephant projectile-pooping gallons of diarrhea into a man’s face (and directly into the camera) for like a minute and a half, which then leads into a prolonged scene set in a cocaine and golden shower-filled orgy – and this is all before the title has even appeared on screen. Some of us dig it, but clearly, Babylon was never going to be for everybody.
Not to mention that Babylon is clearly using its story about the end of silent filmmaking to comment on the decline of original Hollywood filmmaking in the 21st century – so really, had Babylon been a box office smash, it would have, weirdly, negated its own point to some extent. And the adulation over the film’s ending montage –
– also seems a tad hyperbolic. Technically speaking, this clip reel looks like a YouTube project made by a first-year film student. What makes the sequence interesting is its context within the movie, which doesn’t exactly come across on social media. And Some fans seem to be praising this montage as an epic tribute to the “magic” of movies when it could also be argued it is more of a cynical testament to how technological advancement has systematically stripped away cinema’s humanity over the past century.
All this isn’t to say that people shouldn’t be passionate about the movies that they love – if you love Babylon and/or Man of Steel, that’s great – but it becomes a problem when that passion manifests as a total rejection of other people’s equally valid opinions or preferences.
The trend that became famous with the so-called “Snyder Army” is now more conspicuously manifesting around films that appeal more to the “Criterion Closet ASMR video” crowd. Like, Daniel Kwan, the co-director of Everything Everywhere All at Once, literally had to tell fans to “cool it” after they started berating critics who didn’t put EEAO on their year-end top ten lists – even despite the fact that one of the central messages of that particular movie was that life is inherently meaningless, so we should really just be kind to one another goddammit.
Regardless of how many other people liked it or how much money it made, Babylon will always be available for its fans to enjoy – and it’s not like they were ever going to make Babylon v Fablemans: Dawn of Justice.
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