A criticism I see remarkably often towards such films as Primer and Cloud Atlas is that they’re only meant to be watched by those who want to seem intellectually superior for doing so, implying they have little to no other merit.

This is interesting because – while I do enjoy both films in terms of script, production, and their bewildering yet significant ways of presenting their respective stories – the other big complaint I hear is that the movies are too confusing, no matter how simple they are to piece together upon a second viewing or even a second thought (at least in the case of Cloud Atlas). So if you’re used to people telling you that “you just don’t get it”, it’s probably because that’s the best you can do in terms of bitching about movies. And also because, yeah, sounds like you didn’t.

This is one of the most popular yet ineffectual attempts to discredit movies and even TV shows in this day and age. “People who watch this just want to look smart” only holds water for as long as it takes for your opponent (assuming they’re not some imaginary strawman you’ve conjured up) to explain the actual reasons they like a certain work. If you want to have a debate on whether said work is actually deep, meaningful, clever, complex, or whatever else, be my guest. But if your thoughts on the subject extend to “oh it’s just some weird shit that people watch to feel smart” and yet feel surprised when somebody informs you that your knowledge of the work at hand is limited at best – i.e. “you don’t really get it” – we might have a problem.

I, too, consider myself above this science fiction cartoon about timeline disruptions and pitiable human beings sentient farts.

I’ve already brought up movies like Primer, or rather detractors of said movie, as textbook examples of this. Hell, even movies like Inception, which demand nothing more from the viewer than that they sit the fuck down and pay attention for two hours, have been labelled fodder for wannabe-geniuses (which, yet again, says more about you if that’s your example of overly confusing filmmaking that you’re afraid of being informed you didn’t understand).

But I’ve been seeing this with television lately as well. I’m sure some of you Internet-savvy types out there have seen one or two deliberately shitty image macros that make fun of Rick and Morty (you’re doing the Lord’s work, memelords) and its vast fandom, which is allegedly composed of pseudo-intellectuals who find non-fans “2 dumb 4 me”, un-ironically look up to Rick Sanchez, and incessantly quote the “Mulan Dipping Sauce” meme.

And yeah, there’s something to be said about the sort of airheads the show has attracted since last year in particular (unless they always existed). The Twitter user I’ve linked to above acknowledges as much in a follow-up Tweet so I’m not slamming Mr. Partisan here. To be sure, I get worried when a TV show like Rick and Morty becomes truly popular. You just know people aren’t watching it for the right reasons and that they won’t be making observations like this one by Film Crit Hulk – which, as I must reiterate, requires more than a shallow understanding of what the show actually is.

After all, many of these images and text posts are often also second-rate efforts to mock the show’s content. They sneer at its gross-out humor, its absurdism (painted as “randomness”), its nihilistic dialogue (which I guess is what they think is the philosophy of the entire show), and as you probably guessed, sarcastically praising how smart it is. Note: That means it isn’t, okay?

What I’d like to suggest is this: When you’re this in-your-face about purposefully misrepresenting the content of a TV series and how self-aware it actually is about said content, you might want to blubber a bit less about the “you don’t understand this show” part. You’re not proving the voices in your head wrong.

From what I can deduce, the “Rick and Morty is bad now” bandwagon got rolling as soon as the Season 3 premiere aired on repeat on Adult Swim during April Fool’s Day. However, it’s apparently not the Dipping Sauce gag that people are mainly angry at – it’s that the premiere aired at the expense of one (1) episode of the hit-and-miss Samurai Jack revival.

And don’t get me wrong, I actually think Samurai Jack is a better show than Rick and Morty in several respects (I was admittedly displeased that Season 3 opened on a giant reset button). But if I can stay calm when you guys air a bunch of “Fourth of July” bullshit in the stead of the new Twin Peaks, maybe you guys can take it easy too?

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Speaking of which, another famous stereotype is to paint the fans of surrealist filmmaker David Lynch as artsy snobs who constantly claim that no “pleb-tier” viewer could possibly understand his art and that they are the rare snowflakes who do. Firstly, and I can only speak for myself, one of the reasons I love Lynch movies is usually that I don’t get them. They play like subconscious hallucinations that separate you from time and space in ways few filmmakers can manage and once I do see patterns, I don’t always care to have them explained to me by fan forums or YouTube videos.

Secondly, if a person tells you that they understand Lynch movies in a way that their friends do not, there is reason to take their word for it. Even when there is a method to the madness and a puzzle to be solved (as with Mulholland Drive) or symbolism to consider (Eraserhead; Part 8 of the new Twin Peaks), at the end of the day, Lynch makes highly emotional and personal movies, usually with as little interference from studios and executives as possible – if any. As such, they either resonate with you or they don’t. It’s that simple. If they don’t, fine. It doesn’t mean you’re a dipshit, now please refrain from opening your mouth and removing all doubt.

Checking if his movies do resonate with you (e.g. sitting still and watching them even though they don’t tick every “mainstream appeal” box), requires as much patience from you as those who can wait one week extra for a new episode of their favorite TV show, and the attention span of those who can be fucked to represent the show correctly afterwards. I’m sure you get it.

Can the accusation be true in some cases? For sure. I bet there are several “stoner films”, YA novels, and Matrix sequels (or, you know, Lawnmower Men) that people will defend under the pretence that all the quoted Philosophy 101 is deep as hell or that the infamously nonsensical plot is merely too complex for any simple-minded viewer. Luckily, there is more to be said about Matrix: Reloaded than “It’s, like, so confusing and, like, people who say they followed or enjoyed it just want to look smart, man. Oh and there’s too many poop jokes.”


That’s all for today. I will accept the criticism that I said nothing of value and just typed random words to seem smart.

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