If you have spent any time around men in film school — and I’m sorry if that’s happened to you — you have certainly met someone who proudly proclaims himself to be a “writer-director.” The desire to be the sole voice behind a film is one that many men have; they want to be brilliant auteurs who can both create the story and bring it to life on screen. Rarely does this work out, because if you’re in charge of the entire story, there is no one telling you that your script doesn’t make sense, or that the central metaphor of your story does not track with what you are trying to say about, oh I don’t know, climate change, for example. No one is telling you that your Big Important Movie is edited as if it were made for children.
So when your movie does come out, and it receives mixed reviews, what is our poor auteur to do? Should he sit with the criticism saying that he has created an overlong, toothless satire that can’t really articulate what it’s trying to satirize? Or should he go on Twitter and spend days retweeting the people declaring that it is the movie of our lifetimes and that its critics just don’t understand? If you are Adam McKay, you are logging the fuck on, baby!
McKay has spent the days following the Netflix release of his latest, widely panned film, Don’t Look Up defending his choices as an auteur. But rather than saying anything himself, the Step Brothers director has opted to share the simpering opinions of people with names like ClimateDad and ClimateHuman. These people all have basically the same thing to say, which is that Don’t Look Up has been unfairly maligned by the snobbish élites who call themselves film critics.
But what McKay fails to realize is that the people who dislike his movie (which is the No. 1 film on Netflix internationally, congrats to him), are not disagreeing with him that climate change is a complete disaster that will inevitably kill us all. They are doing their job, which is to tell readers if a movie is bad. Unfortunately for him, he made a bad movie. Luckily for him, the movie has an “important” message, so he can hide behind that while defending all of the choices he made along the way.
This is a classic case of Twitter Brain. McKay, who has chosen the coward’s move of retweeting people who agree with him instead of making any original statements himself, does not care to listen to the actual critique being lobbed at him, instead choosing to read criticism as proof that people don’t care enough about climate change. If we all knew as much as he did about the mess we’ve made of our planet, we would be lifting this movie up and telling everyone we know to watch it. It’s actually our fault for meeting him on what we believed to be his terms, and that by releasing a narrative film filled with jokes (albeit subpar ones) he wasn’t actually trying to be entertaining, but rather trying to get us to realize that we are in the end times. Actually, here’s a picture taken of him just now:
What’s funniest about this whole thing — the film, the criticism of the film, the reaction to the criticism of the film, and McKay’s lukewarm critique of capitalism in the film and in response to the film — is that it’s probably doing incredible business for McKay Industries. Don’t Look Up will likely be nominated for several Oscars; McKay has proved that he can get a lot of eyeballs on the Netflix home screen even if the movie is about climate change. As is the case with most people who choose to tweet through it, he’s only becoming stronger. Unfortunately this is horrible news for me, someone who actually likes watching movies.