Boo-boos

I noted in my write-up about Celebration VI that a portion of the audience booed during the screening of ‘A New Hope’ after the 7 frames of Greedo and Han shooting nearly simultaneously. It’s not the first time I’ve heard booing in a theater. As an interesting side note, Terrance Malick’s new film, ‘To the Wonder’ earned boos from an audience of critics at the Venice Film Festival this weekend. In response, film critic Guy Lodge tweeted, “Enough with the booing, people. You’re professionals. Supposedly. Shut the f–k up.”

I’m not sure what booing accomplishes except to piss off other moviegoers. It’s one thing to cheer or laugh as an expression of happiness while watching a movie, but booing seems like a pointless act of criticism — a wasted leftover from the live-stage era. There’s no filmmaker to hear the boos, and I think those doing so know that. So who do they want to hear their boos? Other moviegoers. There’s an intentional, “This sucks and we should all be unhappy about it,” purpose in the act. The goal is to spread the unhappiness and have others share the view. It’s an attempt to shape public opinion.

And then what?

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8 Responses to Boo-boos

  1. Having sat through most of Malick’s movies I can sympathize with the boo-ers in this case. But you’re right, booing doesn’t accomplish anything other than leaving a bad taste in the audience’s collective mouth. Clapping’s evil twin.

    • A New Hope says:

      What’s instructive about this case was that it was an audience of critics. Obviously, those booing are sending a message to their colleagues — which is why Lodge tweeted that they should stop it and be “professional.” He knew what they were doing. The unhappy critics were trying to influence their brethren to see the movie their way: negatively. Lodge, correctly, was pointing out that people — especially supposedly impartial critics — should form their own opinions. It’s really no different than the time I went to ‘Monsters, Inc.’ and saw the first teaser trailer for Episode 2. After the movie was over, a beret-wearing college kid was holding court in the lobby loudly proclaiming to everyone who passed by how much the trailer sucked and how “George Lucas should go back to film school.” He wasn’t just expressing an opinion to his buddies or to the air. He was broadcasting his gospel of unhappiness to strangers to mute any positive feelings from seeing the trailer. Why he felt it was his mission in life to do so is anyone’s guess.

    • lazypadawan says:

      That’s funny because this post reminds me of the nightmare Lisa Simpson has where she sees a band with Art Garfunkle, John Oates, etc. and everybody started booing them. Lisa says to herself, “Why would you go to a concert just to boo?”

      • A New Hope says:

        Why would people who don’t like the prequels spend 13 years complaining endlessly about them when it doesn’t change the fact of their existence?

        Answer: To annoy the people who do like them.

  2. TPF1138 says:

    Well, I’m someone who doesn’t really understand why people applaud at the movies. I mean who’s there to receive the applause?

    Anyway, booing seems even more pointless…

    • A New Hope says:

      Both acts are clearly meant for others. Does anyone clap or boo while watching a movie at home alone? Would anyone clap or boo in an empty theater? Of course not. It’s social interaction. It’s communication. And part of communicating is persuading others to share our views.

  3. Bob Clark says:

    The fact that art-films like Malick’s can maintain esteemed critical reputations even while polarizing professional audiences to the point of cheers and jeers alike while movies like the Prequels recieve something of an online equivalent from the current generation of pop-cultural peanut galleries only without the same kind of respect underlines something pretty important in the way that we treat films as art versus populist entertainment, in general. Movies of Malick’s sort can all be given a free pass for things like conventional dramatic narrative qualities like dialogue and performances, even if they alienate a lot of their intended audience, because they’re wrapped up in the prestige of the art-film. They’re given a benefit of the doubt that filmmakers like Lucas, no less experimental in their own ways, aren’t afforded. Granted, there’s been a few younger filmmakers who toy with conventions that are given more slack (the Wachowskis, Nolan, etc), but it’s too bad that Lucas isn’t among them in the current crop of commentators.