You Have Permission Not To See Batman Vs. Superman
Let’s talk about my grandmother for a minute.
My grandmother — Gram — was the kind of person to go to a restaurant, enjoy all or part of her meal, and upon completion, try to pilfer everything that wasn’t nailed down. I don’t mean that she was a thief; she took things that were from the meal or were in some way meal-adjacent. She’d take the fuck out of some rolls, for one. If there was a basket of rolls, she would upend them into her purse like a sack of bread boulders. She’d take paper napkins. Plastic forks. She’d take salt — if she had any kind of receptacle, she would put salt into it.
She was also the type at home and at the grocery store to ask for bread ends, or the unwanted ends of meat and cheese from the deli counter, or day-old bakery products.
And as a kid, I had no idea what this was about. And adults didn’t really care to explain it because frequently adults just don’t explain shit to kids. (We take an opposite approach here at Ye Olde Wendighaus. We tell B-Dub pretty much everything, and he can choose to absorb that information or let it bounce off him like hail on roof shingles.) Of course, by now a lot of you have already figured out why my grandmother was like this:
She lived through the Great Depression.
Hoarding bread was not some mental glitch; she came from a time when bread and other essentials were scarce. Further, she gazed upon the bounty in the center of the table — a whole goddamn basket of the stuff she was once denied — and then must’ve wondered why exactly we didn’t all gorge on it. WE WERE LETTING PRECIOUS BREAD PRODUCTS GO TO WASTE. So, she saved them. As if they were shelter puppies. Shelter puppies you slather in butter and then eat.
Let’s fast-forward to, well, right now.
Right now, today, a movie has come out — and if you read the reviews from critics and audience members, you will learn that this is less a movie and more a war crime against cinema. Reviews greasy with precious, snarky schadenfreude (snarkenfreude?) confirm for us what we long suspected: Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice breaks the Geneva convention and tortures its audiences for well over two hours with an incoherent, grim, babbling mess. It is reportedly not just a dumpster fire, but a dumpster full of diapers that are themselves full of the runny diarrhea from toddlers force-fed too much leafy green slurry and only then is the dumpster set on fire just before said dumpster is dropped from a helicopter onto an orphanage containing children who should have one day have become the best of us. Batman v. Superman is by many reports the worst thing ever. It is worse than an Adam Sandler comedy. It is worse than biting rats in a jockstrap. It is worse than nipple rot. It is worse than your Mom pegging your Dad on your childhood bed. It is worse than than the worst thing you can imagine right now.
And you don’t have to go see it.
The warnings are clear. People are standing at the edge of a precipice, waving torches, trying to get you to realize that the bridge is out. The river is rising. You can stop your car, turn around, and go home — you don’t have to drive your care full-speed ahead into the watery gorge.
Now, I think I know why it is that people feel the need to see this movie. It’s a many-tiered problem. First, it’s like my grandmother with the Great Depression (and yes, I realize I am straining this metaphor and totally dismissing what my grandmother went through ha ha ha oops sorry Gram just trying to make a NERD POINT here). For a long time we went without a bevy of great comic book movies. I mean, not entirely, of course, but growing up I think there was… what? Tim Burton’s Batman? Christopher Reeves as Superman? And that was it? Both great films in their own way, but the pickings were meager. Now, though, the pickings are far from slim. Superhero movies are like Starbucks — there’s one on every corner. Some of them are dogshit, but some of them are sublime, and they’re not just in the movie theaters. They’re on TV and Netflix and in video games and they’re even manifesting in this new technology called “comic books.” Comic book properties are like bread on the table — we have such a bounty I’m surprised they’re not bringing them to us free with other movies.
The other thing is, for a long time geeks have felt marginalized. Geek culture was geek culture precisely because it was not mainstream, but because it wasn’t mainstream we endured that warring feeling of a) knowing about the fun awesome geeky stuff while b) wanting also to be cool and mainstream and something-something Tiger Beat. Now, though, the script is flipped. GEEK IS COOL (which one could argue means it’s not even geeky anymore). The biggest properties and franchises out there have often been geeky things, but they have achieved a powerful saturation level. Batman Vs. Superman isn’t some niche pic. It’s a tentpole release. And not the “geek counterprogramming” release, either — it’s not the one genre film in a sea of manly action films and rom-coms. It’s thrust firmly in a year of new Star Wars and Civil War and X-Men and Warcraft and Suicide Squad.
The geek may not have inherited the Earth, but we damn sure inherited Hollywood.
So, this is a permission slip — you don’t have to go see Batman v. Superman. You aren’t obligated. There is no surfeit of good entertainment out there. This isn’t the meager crumb-scrabble of bread to feed your geek leanings for the next year. This is just a shitty hamburger on a table full of better hamburgers. You don’t even need to see it to be part of geek culture. This doesn’t look to be adding anything interesting to the conversation except the joyless snarkenfreude-flavored obligation of reviewers and fans who just want to take a clever winky snarling shit on something. (And hey, you do you. We all need those precious Internet Clicks to live.) If you want to see the movie, more power to you. Go forth. Enjoy. Hopefully Zack Snyder doesn’t just pop out of the screen every five minutes to spit in your eyes. I hear Wonder Woman is cool and Batfleck is pretty proper. But don’t go because you feel obligated.
Ain’t nobody got time for that. Or the money, actually, since going to the movies costs the approximate value of Detective Comics #1. Feel free to go do something else.
Maybe, I dunno, read a comic book…