ByKit Simpson Browne, writer at
Writer-at-large. Bad jokes aplenty. Can be gently prodded on Twitter at @kitsb1
Kit Simpson Browne

Now, for some fans, the critical mauling that Suicide Squad has received in recent days has led to quiet introspection - or to a discussion of just what their impact on the movie's success will be. For others, it's been a prompt for frustration, and defense - as in the case of of the film's director, David Ayer. For one determined fan, though, none of that was quite enough.

Abdullah Coldwater, y'see, saw something more problematic in critics' rejection of the film than a mere dislike of Suicide Squad, or a questioning of its relative quality. Specifically, he took issue with the review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes, on which Suicide Squad currently has a rating of 29%, and started a petition to get the site shut down, arguing that it gives an unfairly critical perspective of DC movies. However, after just a day online (and 18,495 signatories)...

Abdullah Coldwater's Anti-Rotten Tomatoes Petition Has Been Withdrawn

Suicide Squad/Warner Bros.
Suicide Squad/Warner Bros.

As he put it, in the wake of an active and often angry debate that arose from the petition's arrival:

"In fact i started this petition to gather dc fans to express our anger just for fun. I didn't mean it to be taken that serious.... After thinking. I found this petition is pointless. And the only thing that it does is spreading a speech of hate and online fighting among the supporters and objectors. The movies is something to enjoy. And the hate and fight is the opposite of enjoying."

Which is actually an extremely important point, and very much supports the argument that:

The Withdrawal Of Coldwater's Petition Is A Victory For Movie Fans Everywhere

Suicide Squad/Warner Bros.
Suicide Squad/Warner Bros.

Including, it should be noted, Coldwater himself. Y'see, as he made clear in the statement above, the petition wasn't an attempt to start a Twitter-war, or to encourage fans to hate Marvel because DC is being criticized by some journalists. Instead, it was a reaction to the perception that the DC Extended Universe is somehow being mistreated - a reaction that, when it created more problems than it looked likely to solve, Coldwater wisely withdrew.

Why, though, is that withdrawal a victory for fans? Well, there are two key reasons:

1. Critics Aren't Fans' Enemies, And Nor Is Rotten Tomatoes

Suicide Squad/Warner Bros.
Suicide Squad/Warner Bros.

So, here's the thing. For all that some fans see a conspiracy in Suicide Squad's negative reviews, film journalists really aren't out to screw over DC, or any other superhero movie. True, everyone has their own bias - some of us don't like horror movies, say, while others couldn't sit through a rom-com - but that doesn't add up to a carefully planned scheme to ruin the box office prospects of Warner Bros. superhero movies or to somehow indirectly advantage Marvel Studios and Disney.

Instead, the vast majority of movie journalists and film critics are just fans who happen to get paid - or not, in many cases - to talk about the movies they love. When Suicide Squad disappoints them, it's just that - disappointment. A critical review rarely represents anger, or malice, or any sort of vindictive forethought. Instead, it simply indicates that a fan with a public outlet for their thoughts didn't like the movie - much like any negative tweet or Facebook post does. Reviews, then, are intended to provide a guide for movie-goers who haven't already decided to go to see the movie, but are also just the opinions of folks who love - or hate - movies in the exact same way every other film fan does: Individually.

Suicide Squad/Warner Bros.
Suicide Squad/Warner Bros.

Rotten Tomatoes, of course, is an entirely different animal, and it is certainly possible to understand why many fans dislike its simplified ratings system (broadly speaking, a movie is either rated 'fresh' or 'rotten', based on an aggregation of a whole lot of reviews from 'recognized' journalists). With the complexities of each critics argument - most reviews ultimately had some positive things to say about Suicide Squad, for instance - being lost in the process, it's not too tough to understand a certain disgruntlement with the site's prominence.

That being said, though, it's ultimately just a website, and one that vast swathes of the movie-going audience pay absolutely not attention to - and that we as fans are under no obligation to click onto, or listen to the ratings of. If you find that it helps you 'crowd-source' reviews of movies, then that's great. If you find it unhelpful, and choose to ignore it in favor of a particular reviewer, a friend's recommendations, or even just going and seeing movies without reading any reviews at all, then that's great too.

The even more important thing that Coldwater's withdrawal of the petition serves to remind us, though?

2. Shouting At Each Other Online Isn't The Best Way To Share Our Love Of Movies

Suicide Squad/Warner Bros.
Suicide Squad/Warner Bros.

As Coldwater put it:

"After thinking. I found this petition is pointless. And the only thing that it does is spreading a speech of hate and online fighting among the supporters and objectors. The movies is something to enjoy. And the hate and fight is the opposite of enjoying."

Which is absolutely true. There is no reason that someone who loves the Marvel Cinematic Universe can't also love the DCEU, much as there's no reason that someone who loved The Avengers has to love Thor: The Dark World, or that someone who disliked Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice can't love Suicide Squad. Similarly, there's no reason why a bad review on Rotten Tomatoes has to impact on our opinion of a movie (that the vast majority of us haven't even seen yet). Heck, there's even no particular reason for us all to divide ourselves into different superhero-themed tribes at all, beyond social media's tendency to encourage such divisions - and there's certainly no reason for us to shout at each another for not liking a movie, or for, say, preferring one actor's take on the Joker to another.

As Coldwater's withdrawal of his petition makes clear, the flinging of hate online (and the in-fighting that tends to follow in its wake) is one of the best possible ways to stop people from actually enjoying movies. Which, in a world where we're lucky enough to be surrounded by a steady stream of geek-tastic movies that fans twenty years ago would have killed for, is a crying shame.

Kudos, then, to Coldwater, for - in the end - taking a stand for enjoyment over shouting, and for respect over conspiracy theorizing. We all stand to benefit from an internet freed from hate, from cynicism, and from endless ALL-CAPS screaming. The big question now, though?

What do you reckon?


Would the internet be a better place if we were all a little kinder to one another?



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