By Eric Kohn | Eric Kohn February 14, 2009 at 12:10AM
Andrew Bujalski, the source of much hot-headed debate.
The hostile reactions in the comments section of Shane Danielsen's hilarious takedown of Andrew Bujalski's new movie Beeswax -- the screening of which he admits to have vacated after fifty minutes -- raise some really interesting questions about the web phenomenon of fanboy passion, a force that often seeks to silence critiques of the work that drives it. The impulse is curiously blind, as we learned last year from the vehement responses to pans of The Dark Knight from commenters who hadn't even seen the movie yet. A few of the comments following Shane's indieWIRE review suggest an indie manifestation of this tendency, assuming that the people ticked off at Danielsen haven't actually seen the new Bujalski. Danielsen's review may or may not lose its validity because he didn't watch the whole thing (personally, I think he contextualizes his opinion so that his reaction works just fine).
Either way, does Shane's eloquent piece deserve to be called a "pathetic excuse of a review"? Have we witnessed an "abuse of this critic’s power"? Is he an "asshole"? Come on, people. As I told indieWIRE editor Eugene Hernandez over AIM earlier today, this type of angry defense mechanism can provide a tremendous benefit for an individual filmmaker, but it strikes me as potentially deleterious to film culture in general. I'm not trying to sympathize with a critic's feelings (god forbid), but Danielsen certainly has a right to express his opinion, especially in the intelligent manner of his review.
Allow me to add that I sincerely enjoyed Bujalski's first two movies and eagerly await seeing his latest at South by Southwest in Austin next month. This has nothing to do with personal preferences and everything to do with the need for a plurality of voices and the sustainment of pointed, thoughtful discussion -- not mumblecore mouthbreathing.