Welcome to What's Everybody Mad About This Week?!, a SYFY WIRE series that rounds up the biggest geek culture uproars of the week and adds a little bit of context for those who missed out.
There's no denying that the internet, no matter how you feel about it, is a breeding ground for debate. Not all of that debate is healthy, or even really a debate in the classical sense of the word. In case you're living a healthy life away from internet outrage, we've cut through all the noise to take stock of the latest, hottest debates so you can pretend to know what your friends are talking about.
This week, we’re digging into the ongoing Joker controversy, that time Martin Scorsese said a thing about Marvel movies, and the ongoing Activision Blizzard debacle in China. That’s it — that’s all. I can’t handle anything else right now.
People were mad from the moment news broke about Warner Bros.' solo Joker movie, and the vitriol only grew from there. Now that the movie is in theaters, let's take stock of how it all went down.
The initial reviews for Joker out of the Venice Film Festival labeled the film a game-changer, but as more people began to pay attention to the movie, the internet began debating the film’s intent and whether it would be dangerous if seen by the wrong audience. Director Todd Phillips and star Joaquin Phoenix didn't help the situation, either, with Phillips lashing out at the “far-left,” and Phoenix saying he doesn’t believe “it’s the responsibility of a filmmaker to teach the audience morality or the difference between right or wrong.”
Now, what Phoenix is talking about is an age-old debate, and one we're not going to settle any time soon. But given the current political climate and the epidemic of gun violence in this country, people had very strong feelings about the matter.
Some reviewers raised questions about how the film might inspire those who are teetering on the edge of violence, especially as it pertains to gun violence. Others thought folks were taking a movie too seriously. Others sympathized with the film’s star.
There are no easy answers to be found when discussing something like this — I just know that people will continue to be mad.
Scorsese said the MCU is equivalent to a theme park...
Woo boy. Okay. Y’all still with me? Deep breaths. We’ll get through this together.
So, Martin Scorsese, Academy Award-winning director who's universally considered one of the greatest filmmakers to ever live, did an interview with Empire to promote his upcoming film The Irishman. Obviously, they had to ask him about the MCU, and Scorsese had this to say about Marvel movies:
“I don’t see them. I tried, you know? But that’s not cinema. Honestly, the closest I can think of them, as well made as they are, with actors doing the best they can under the circumstances, is theme parks. It isn’t the cinema of human beings trying to convey emotional, psychological experiences to another human being.”
MCU fans were very, very, very (very) (very) angry. Insults were thrown back and forth in the depths of Twitter, and Reddit rants abounded. The hot takes flew. Actors and creators attached to the MCU reacted. People had so many opinions that it’s all but impossible for me to catalog all of them here for you.
But, in essence, this is what it comes down to: People often grow emotionally attached to the movies they like, and the fact that an auteur director — who’s often lauded as knowing everything there is to know about cinema — dismissed said movies, it felt like a personal insult to many people.
For whatever it’s worth, Scorsese did admit that he thinks Marvel movies are “well made,” but, really, what this comes down to is a matter of opinion. Just because someone doesn’t like something you like doesn’t mean either of you is wrong — it just means you disagree. Yelling about it on the internet isn’t going to change anything. Scorsese doesn’t sit around watching Marvel movies, and that’s that. I’m sure a lot of Marvel fans have never seen a Scorsese movie, and that’s that, too!
Also, as people pointed out, I feel like it might have been weirder for Scorsese to admit to being a Marvel superfan? Was anyone really, truly surprised that the director of Taxi Driver and Goodfellas doesn’t sit around having MCU marathons? No.
Not that it’ll stop people from being mad.
Activision Blizzard, the company behind such popular online games as World of Warcraft and Overwatch, invited the ire of longtime fans this week, and it's grown to the point that many are calling for a boycott.
How did this happen, you ask?
Well, without getting too far into the details of the ongoing democratic protests in Hong Kong, I can tell you that Hong Kong-based professional Hearthstone player Chung Ng Wai was banned from Blizzard’s pro league for a year and, reportedly, forced to forfeit a previously-won $10,000 prize.
What led to such a harsh penalty? He expressed support for pro-democracy protesters during a live stream.
For now, people are calling for the further boycott of the upcoming BlizzCon and canceling their Blizzard accounts altogether. All the while, the company’s stock is falling, employees staged a walkout in protest, and folks are calling for Blizzard to change its tune, and fast.