The YouTuber known only as “Doomcock” has a regular sign-off on his show: “stay angry”. Doomcock runs a rumor channel, he collects all of the most cutting edge rumors about Star Wars, Star Trek, Marvel and other franchises and releases its exposé style to bring attention to the rise of “wokeness” in popular cinema. His channel was one of the dozens of major channels like Mauler, The Quartering, Rags, and ER that became extremely popular in the aftermath of the release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi in 2017. An entire cottage industry of pissed off Star Wars fans arose to try and rationalize why Disney’s Star Wars projects are falling flat.
His sign-off “stay angry” is part of the greater philosophy of the show, “if they don’t respect, we reject”. Doomcock has a list of stated demands for the Disney Corporation that he says must be fulfilled in order for him, and apparently, thousands of his followers, to be regular patrons again: among them being the firing of the story groups behind recent films and the rendering of the Sequel Trilogy non-canon.
This will never happen of course. Disney didn’t spend $1 Billion+ producing, advertising, and distributing their new trilogy only to collapse the moment 200K nerds complain about it. Disney Star Wars has grossed over $8 billion in tickets and merchandise since 2012 and it’s helped launch Disney+ into a successful streaming service. The numbers just aren’t on the side of the “Fandom Menace”, as they call themselves.
Still, this attitude of “stay angry” has become the dominant form of discourse for films on major websites like YouTube. Anytime a television show or movie alludes to progressive issues, casts a lead character as a minority, or grumbles about negative fan reaction, the “Fandom Menace” kicks into overdrive and pours out on Twitter with millions of hot takes about “Wokeness ruining Hollywood”.
And most certainly, “wokeness” isn’t helping. See my colleague Christian Toto’s new book Virtue Bombs.
Most recently, this arose during the most recent rounds of content drops for Amazon Prime’s upcoming television show Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. The new half-billion-dollar five-season TV show, made with the permission of the Tolkien estate, was teased last August with a still image but the film’s production, rumors, and studio grumbling me have already turned off a huge section of the internet.
A large section of the internet has already decided that the show sucks. They hate it and they’re mad at Amazon for parasitically abusing and bastardizing the works of JRR Tolkien’s masterpieces for money.
I’ve been encouraging an open mind on Twitter. I continually go back to the well of The Witcher as a positive example, which had woke staff on hand and diversity cast several of its characters. Despite that, the first season turned out great and the eagerly awaited second season just dropped on Netflix to mixed reception. Regardless, the internet has made up its mind. The Rings of Power will be woke propaganda that destroys the integrity of The Lord of the Rings and JRR Tolkien will be rolling in his grave.
Of course, that’s not true either. I own DVDs of The Lord of the Rings. I have the 13-hour special edition versions and I watch them every year. They’re right next to my Despecialized Blu-rays of the original trilogy of Star Wars and my DVD set of original Star Trek films. The original films are going away. They’re the best blockbuster franchise of the 21st century. They were released in theaters several times during 2020 to fill empty slots in the new release schedule. Nothing can ruin the integrity of these movies. I’ll always have them!
I’m not worried about The Rings of Power because I don’t believe it’s something worth being angry about. I’m not upset about the mistakes of the Sequel Trilogy, Captain Marvel, Ghostbusters (2016), Cowboy Bebop, or Star Trek Discovery either. I never bothered to watch garbage looking woke films like Hustlers, Charlie’s Angels, or Oceans 8. The mistakes of these films and shows roll right off my back, and it does because I’ve chosen to let them. I don’t believe in carrying on the pain of failure to be healthy or worth contemplating.
There’s a very good article by my favorite film critic FilmCritHulk (he’s a braindead progressive on political issues but he’s one of the most eloquent writers on issues of story structure and emotional catharsis in storytelling I know, see his reviews for Man of Steel or Star Trek into Darkness). Hulk outlines a conversation he had when he got to meet Quentin Tarantino at a screening of Kill Bill while he was still a young man. He made an offhand remark about hating a movie and Tarantino turned to him and said:
“Never, under any circumstances, hate a movie. It won’t help you and it’s a waste of time… There’s plenty of reasons to not to like a movie. But if you hate them? Meaning if let them bother you? Then they’ll do nothing but bother you. Who wants to be bothered? There’s so many better things to do with movies. It’s like my fucking Top Gun rant, okay? Bad things can be so much more interesting than just bad… And I mean if you want to do this for a fucking living and you’re absolutely serious, then never hate a movie. You can learn so much about the craft from bad movies… And fuck man, hating movies closes you off to stuff that seems like whatever you hate. Or stuff by the same guy. And who knows? That other stuff could be awesome. Some of my favorite filmmakers made bad movies. It won’t help you. It just won’t. It stops your development right in its tracks, okay? I mean like everything and I ain’t trying to get you to be like fucking me or anything. I’m just saying I think it’s better for you. And it makes me way, way happier. Never hate a movie. They’re gifts. Every fucking one of em.”
This is my philosophy of art consumption. I sit through bad, forgettable, and offensive films all the time but I always let that feeling roll off of me. I don’t want to carry the trauma of a bad film with me. It’s not worth the time or energy. Better to learn from it and move on to the next thing.
As one great Star Wars character said, “Apathy is death”, and some movies deserve your apathy more than your hate.
Did The Rise of Skywalker suck? Sure it did! Did the Netflix reboot of Cowboy Bebop suck? So I’m told. Did Captain Marvel suck? It was certainly lazy and self-important. Will The Rings of Power suck? Maybe but I’m not a time traveler so I won’t predict it. That said, I’m going to wait and see. If it turns out good then I’ll have been gifted something wonderful that makes my poor, short life better. If not, better to forget about it, because what’s a greater insult than to forget something ever existed?