Saturday, June 19, 2010

Ways I waste my time

I read A rant about reviewers... by Dwayne Hendrickson, in which calls out a number of concerns he had with reviews of Jonah Hex, most of which I generally agree with.

I actually thought his thoughts on Jonah Hex script a mess by Kevin Williamson, that made him mad enough to email a reply, were understated.

Williamson wrote, "After all, there's the issue of whether or not Hex, the long-running, oft-cancelled DC Comics western outlaw, should have even received the big-screen treatment. Is Hollywood so starved for ideas it has to turn to failed comics for source material? And yes, I'm asking rhetorically."

Hendrickson agreed that Jonah Hex has been canceled twice, which he doesn't agree is "oft-cancelled", as Williamson cheaply states. I believe it has only been canceled once. In 1987.

But I think the cheap shot shows something more reprehensible and basically works against the entire legitimacy of expressing an opinion on stories.

Of course, it was just a cheap shot, but it's the kind that people should be careful of, because they're feeding creepy assumptions that people regularly make.

This is the email I sent to Williamson:

I was referred to your review of Jonah Hex, which I have not seen, from an article by Dwayne Hendrickson in which he quotes an email he wrote to you. You characterized Hex as "oft-cancelled", which I submit is inaccurate.

I'm writing because Hendrickson was more generous in his disagreement than I would be.

As he noted, the Jonah Hex character ran for 16 years straight, from 1971 until 1987, without cancellation. He then was featured in a series of mini-series in the 1990s, none of which were intended as a regular series. After that, it was revived in 2005 and is going strong with a strong fanbase.

That is exactly one cancellation in 40 years, making your statement seem almost willfully and irresponsibly inaccurate.

And that's not the only irresponsible part, nor is it the worst.

Frankly I have trouble believing that any professional movie reviewer genuinely equates popularity with quality.

Do you genuinely believe that the Top 10 movies of every year are the 10 best? If so, why even bother offering your opinion. You could publish the Box Office returns instead.

And if you don't believe that, which I'm assuming you don't, why would you make such a strong point of suggesting that a less popular comic book is less deserving of an adaptation than a more popular one?

Even by your implicit opinion that popularity equals quality, the movie
Kick-Ass made more money than Punisher: War Zone, thus suggesting that it's better, and yet "The Punisher" consistently sells more issues than "Kick-Ass" ever did, suggesting it would than be better. Does that create some kind of paradox?

Well, of course not!

Because the entire conceit is idiotic!

And by offering it implicitly as a criticism is irresponsible and cheap.

I've become reasonably convinced the movie isn't good, and that's part of why I'm annoyed that the best you could come up with was a crappy cheap shot at the comic, that even the movie's few defenders agree it doesn't resemble very strongly.

I do, however, wish to add credit to Williamson for referring to "Jonah Hex" as a comic book series and not a "graphic novel", even if he does seem confused about what "oft-cancelled" means.

UPDATE: As a footnote, The Old Groove has concluded "Hex Weekend!" with the excellent Groove's Faves: "The Vow of a Samurai!". Check it out!

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