LESSON #1: YOU ARE THE CURATOR OF YOUR OWN SOCIAL MEDIA— Boy, oh boy, the lessons that spin out of the James Gunn dismissal and Twitter developments could fill this column for hours. First, I must properly renew my applaud to our highly responsive and active Facebook group for the civil and engaging conversation when this story broke mere hours after WWLTW was already published for last week. For me, the top lesson moving forward from all that happened is this one rooted in responsibility. Trolling or not and joking or not, celebrity or commoner, your name is assigned to your social media personas and presences. No one controls that content but you. There is no “must be the curator.” You “are” the curator. Act as if you are saying those words to people’s faces. Speak with context and think before you click the send button, because what you post leaves tracks. It doesn’t go away easily. You must control the message, from posted public content on down to privacy settings and who you allow in your circle. Get disciplined and clean up your act.
LESSON #2: HYPOCRISY IS A SHORT STEP AWAY FROM PRUDENCE— Though I may disagree with their firing, I get where Disney is coming from. They have an image to maintain, but they have turned a blind eye for years. Disney bankrolled Harvey Weinstein’s Miramax shingle for years. Robert Downey, Jr.’s legal rap sheet has more convictions than Gunn’s zero, but heaven forbid the fire their cash cow star. Are we going to see revisionist history apologies or retroactive action on those two examples or that dozens of others? Not likely, which is why a studio like this turning over a new leaf is a good and prudent thing for the future, but it is still very damning when the past isn’t handled or at lest addressed. This all could have been handled better without the caving to political wackos.
LESSON #3: DIRECTORS HAVE EARNED THE POSITION TO BE IN A FIGHTING MOOD— Even before the James Gunn headlines added butthurt political naysayers to the list of public enemies, the recent pushback against toxic fandom was already firing up talented filmmakers. Before his own pickle, Gunn himself jabbed that hurtful fans of the bullying internet variety need to “go to therapy.” Zack Snyder, and even Michael Bay, have never been shy about standing by their work. Logan and Walk the Line director James Mangold, who recently threw his hat in the Star Wars ring by signing on to helm a Boba Fett standalone film, berated the buzz in a tweet that connecting the calls for blasphemy and emotional overload to the studios hiring “hacks” instead of bolder minds. The same landscape not-so-jokingly “cured” Mission: Impossible series director Christopher McQuarrie from ever wanting to direct a Star Wars film. In my eyes, these examples are not being thin-skinned against criticism. These kinds of statements of strong words against the paying customers are rooted in demanding and respecting artistic integrity, something the selfish sect of moviegoers don’t properly understand. I, for one, support the hell out of these public displays of spine. I wish more did the same.
LESSON #4: GET OFF YOUR BUTT AND DO SOMETHING ACTIVE— This lesson is a combination of positive and negative recent examples surrounding the summer movie season. The core message is to get out and have a physical outlet away from fantasy and escapism. On one hand, the “get a life” and “go to therapy” clapbacks to the toxic fanboys is an indirect call to them to have something else fulfilling in life other than movies and entertainment. Excellent counterexamples have appeared this summer at the movies between Tag and Uncle Drew and the idea of “play.” My Chicago colleague and Consequence of Sound film critic Clint Worthington richly outlined this psychology in highly recommended little editorial read published on Crooked Marquee. I love the underlying messages from Clint’s article and the movie examples. Put down the screens. Get off the couch. Get out of the movie theater air conditioning. Go outside. Get together with friends in person instead of virtually and have interpersonal activity and collaborative fun. Simply put, go play. It’s summer. Get some exercise and get better juices flowing than those that come from sitting down and watching some thing you’ve seen a hundred times.
LESSON #5: THE DEAL IS DONE— The two largest official steps of have cleared in the deal of the century. Shareholders of both 21st Century Fox and the Walt Disney Company approved the $71.3 billion takeover deal on Friday morning. That follows the approval from the U.S. Department of Justice. No more red tape exists, only transitional preparations. Folks, the reality is official real. It’s officially OK to start all that click-bait fan casting of Fantastic Four, X-Men, and more. Deeply suspicious campfire rumors are bubbling up that substantial fix-up work may already be necessary on the two upcoming Fox/Marvel films The New Mutants and X-Men: Dark Phoenix. Uh oh. We knew speedbumps were possible. Hang tight. It could be worse. Could you imagine the kind of image and tone cleanup Marvel would have to apply to the DCEU if they bought Warner Bros.?! Great googa-mooga!
DON SHANAHAN is a Chicago-based film critic writing on his website Every Movie Has a Lesson and also on Medium.com where he is one of the 50 “Top Writers” in the Movies category. As an educator by day, Don writes his movie reviews with life lessons in mind, from the serious to the farcical. He is a proud director and one of the founders of the Chicago Independent Film Critics Circle. As a contributor here on Feelin’ Film now for over a year, he’s going to expand those lessons to current movie news and trends while chipping in with guest spots and co-hosting duties, including the special “Connecting with Classics” podcast program. Find “Every Movie Has a Lesson” on Facebook, Twitter, and Medium to follow his work.