The Imagination Connoisseur known as Timbula the Spider Monkey (Tim Davies) writes in to talk about how important it is to NOT judge a book by its cover.
It’s been a while since my last letter and I thought I should correct this egregious error. Mostly, my slackness has been due to work scheduling, but there has been another reason as well. I just couldn’t think of a topic to hit you up with. Fortunately, both of these concerns have been abated in one fell swoop…..oh happy days!!!
A few days ago, I wrote you a Superchat or two about the experience of showing my girlfriend Zulawski’s POSSESSION and her extremely negative reaction to it. She couldn’t really put her finger on why it stuck in her craw so much, except to say she found it exploitative, especially of Isabelle Adjani, who she assumed was a lot younger than she actually was while making the film. She was shocked to hear Adjani was 26 at the time. To be fair, she does look a lot younger than that.
My girlfriend went on to talk about the way Mark (Sam Neill) comes out looking a lot better than Anna in the film, the latter having her character effectively split into two seperate roles, the good girl school teacher and the evil woman who chooses to let her sexuality control her and is screwing a monster. I don’t necessarily agree, but I can see where she’s coming from. With a bit more digging, I think I found the core root of the problem she had with the film.
My girlfriend is Scottish and as a child of the 80s, she lived through the infamous “Video Nasty” error. Films were either heavily edited or flat out banned because an archaic board of stuffy old men couldn’t look past the surface of sexual content and violence and unilaterally swung the ax at an entire genre of films. Movies were bad mouthed and fans of them were seen as degenerates. Not just by small groups either.
The entire country seemed to be behind this censoring of people’s entertainment, you know, for the greater good and all that. One of those films lumped into the “video nasty” category was POSSESSION, which is ridiculous, especially when you look at some of the other films on that list. Because of the association with being a “nasty”, I think maybe she wasn’t willing to give the movie a fair chance. If true, this is odd, because THE EVIL DEAD was also on that list and she loves that.
Maybe the combination of being on the list and the sexual nature of the film is what did it? I can’t seem to get a straight answer. But she did mention the fact that she knew it was a “nasty” before we watched it.
This got me thinking. “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover” is something we try to teach children from a very young age, but is a negative first impression something that we still have a hard time getting over? Do we judge things more harshly if we don’t think much of it on first exposure?
I’m a massive Star Trek fan and don’t think much of what Bad Robot has done to the franchise. But have I allowed my reaction to the new movies to cloud my judgement of STAR TREK: DISCOVERY (for the record, I HATE Discovery with a deep, dark passion)? I find myself constantly arguing with fans of the new iteration about the state of Trek.
People who think like John Campea does; who say things like “Before JJ, the franchise was dead.” To them, I always quote Jud Crandall from Pet Sematary “Sometimes dead is better” – especially if what you get back is a grotesque charade of it’s former self.
But am I being overly harsh towards the new show because of my feelings about the movies? I’d like to think I viewed Discovery free from any pre-conceived ideas on what it was going to be like and just disliked it because of it’s individual qualities (or lack thereof).
To follow on from a discussion the other day on your show, I won’t be watching the Watchmen series based solely on my feelings about the way DC handled their interactions with Alan Moore. But if I did watch it, would I be able to approach it with an open mind? I doubt it.
As I’ve previously stated, Alan Moore is my spirit animal. I’ve written to Hot Toys about making a 1/6th scale figure of him, but don’t think they, or he, would go for that. There wouldn’t be enough fake hair to make even a small run of those figures.
On the flip side of this are those examples of something you watched that you were overly excited about and as a result, you may have given it a far easier ride than it deserved. I was extremely excited for new Star Wars when Disney announced THE FORCE AWAKENS. I saw it 10 times at the cinema. I bought the standard and 3D blu rays when they came out. It wasn’t until just recently I was able to admit to myself and others that my enthusiasm may have been misplaced and the movie isn’t really all that good. I may have just been happy it wasn’t a prequel.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this matter. Do you think the power (both positive and negative) of a first impression is something we can ever truly get over?
Anyhoot, I’m going to leave off here as I always do, with a Groucho Marx quote:
“Marriage is a wonderful institution, but who wants to live in an institution?”
– Timbula The Spidermonkey