There is a lot of entertainment out in the world. What you like and what you do not like is completely subjective. However, one of the joys of liking something is sharing it with your friends. This is a list of 4 thing that everybody recommends to me but for some reason I can not stand. Some of these are not essentially bad, but I can not get into them. Some of them are inherently terrible though. I explain in my descriptions.
Post-Funeral Arcade Fire
In another decade, when people look back at the early 2000’s, they will undoubtedly declare Arcade Fire’s Funeral as one of the classic indie albums of the era. Funeral is a masterpiece of indie rock. It is complex, emotional and energetic. Arcade Fire was able to synthesize the driving arena rock of the 80’s with complex orchestral arrangements and indie sensibilities. Just listening through the Neighborhood songs on Funeral is enough to show why Arcade Fire became so huge.
Unfortunately, Arcade Fire has never been able to follow-up Funeral with an effective album. Somehow, they are still critical darlings, and rack up critical claim and album sales every time they release something new. Their second album, Neon Bible was an alright album, but did not capture the same depth that the their début did. It just did not feel as fresh. Since then, their albums have been gradual descents into mediocrity. They seem to be losing their energy and drive with each album. I do not really know how to describe it, but Arcade Fire has never captured my attention after Funeral.
Every time I tell people that I do not like Dr. Who they can not believe it. Then, invariably, they end up trying to tell me why I may not like the series. Maybe I only saw episodes with the ninth doctor. Maybe I never saw the episode with the Weeping Angels… And so on and so forth. Well I have not seen very many episodes of Dr. Who, but I have seen the “greatest” ones and I still do not like the series.
The thing is, for every aspect of Dr. Who, I can think of a better science fiction show. If I want witty banter and comedy in the face of danger, I will watch Firefly. If I want dark, edgy stories, I will watch Battlestar Galactica. If I want time travel stories and just general science fiction tomfoolery I will watch Star Trek. What else does Dr. Who really have to offer?
Besides that, Dr. Who falls into some of the pitfalls that can catch other science fiction series, mainly forced cleverness and forced campiness. The forced cleverness is debatable, but generally when I watch Dr. Who I feel like the characters say lines just for the sake of being clever, kind of like a forced wink at the audience. The lines never feel as organic as Firefly. But it is the forced campiness that really bothers me. Old science fiction shows are great. It is fun to see how they viewed the future and what they could do with such a small budget. So I recognize that old Dr. Who will be campy and cheap. I am ok with that. But now that it is an extremely profitable TV show, what excuse do they have for forcing the campiness into the show?
What I mean about is this: Even though we are now on the 12th iteration of The Doctor, the design on the two main enemies, the Daleks and the Cybermen essentially look the same as they did in the 60s. Update the design! Make them more applicable to our day! Another example is the sonic screwdriver. Yes, it is clever to have a device that seems to do everything. But, since the writers are no longer forced by a budget to condense all possible devices into one item, they can expand and try something new. That is the biggest failing of Dr. Who. They purposefully keep things campy when they could break out and try something different (as Star Trek has consistently done.)
The Walking Dead
To be fair, the first season of this show was pretty great. It promised, action, intrigue and adventure. Then, the second season hit, and the characters spent all of their time on a stupid farm.. Now, everybody points at the second season to highlight the flaws of The Walking Dead and that would be fine, if the other seasons did not suffer from fatal flaws. My biggest problem with The Walking Dead is that it is the same, all of the time. Most story arcs end up the same way: survivors find some sort of hope, zombies and/or other people ruin it, and the survivors keep moving on. The only exciting and interesting thing that happens is a character dies, and usually it is a character that we never really got to know and love. When the only interesting thing about your show is killing off characters, you know that you have a problem. Death works best as a last resort in writing. If a main character dies every once in a while, it adds gravity and suspense to the series. But when they are always dying, who even cares? It’s just another (undead) body.
Besides the writing errors, The Walking Dead also suffers from lack of vision. To show this, I will compare it to Battlestar Galactica. Both shows are similar, even if the time periods and genre are different. In both shows, a small group of human survivors survive an apocalypse caused by a nearly unstoppable, inhuman force. The surviving humans are faced with the task of both rebuilding their society and surviving further attacks from the inside and out. However, the big difference between the two shows is that Battlestar Galactica had a grander purpose to all of the adventures, while The Walking Dead does not. In Battlestar we were told that the survivors were looking for Earth, and this overarching goal gave the viewers and the characters a reason to push on. Even through story arcs, the goal of finding Earth was always tangible, and gave direction to a show. The Walking Dead makes the mistake of never quite establishing what the characters are trying to establish beyond pure survival. Because of this, the show devolves into just a series of events. There is no goal, no purpose, just pointless death and destruction.
Internet movie criticism is a mixed bag. You have some quality material (such as the writers at AV Club or Red Letter Media) but you also have the bottom of the barrel (like Nostalgia Critic). One of the worst examples of internet movie criticism is Honest Trailers. Unlike niche websites like Nostalgia Critic, Honest Trailers is relatively popular.
Remember how awesome Gravity was? Well Honest Trailers thinks that the dialogue was terrible due to one out of context line. Remember how great Lord of the Rings, Breaking Bad, The Avengers, Pacific Rim or Star Trek (2009) was? Honest Trailers thinks that they have terrible errors in them as well. You can not watch a single one of these videos and just see them say: “Hey, this movie was pretty great, here’s why.” They represent the growing trend of internet savvy movies goers who have developed in the habit of thinking that every movie is bad, and every movie has flaws that need to pointed out. Sure movies have flaws (it is nearly impossible to make a perfect movie) but it takes a certain level of maturity and movie watching experience to actually admit that the minor flaws in a movie do not need to be pointed out if the movie is good overall.
What is damaging about Honest Trailers is that it gets people into the habit of thinking that they are good at analyzing film if they can only nitpick the flaws. They do not get trained to actually recognize what is good in a movie. And, even when Honest Trailers does point out the flaws on a film, they never spend the time explaining why the things that they point out are flaws. Their commentary falls more along the lines of: “This is just dumb because it is dumb.” So you get a large group of people who mistakenly think that they are movie geniuses and have only been trained how to make fun of movies.
Beyond that, Honest Trailers is just plain unfunny. The only time I ever laughed at one of their videos was when Red Letter Media made a cameo. Changing the names of actors is not funny. Taking lines out of context is not funny. Honest Trailers are not funny.