LetterBoxD. I’ve been a member of that site since March 2013 (for over 5 years now), thanks to recommendations from the podcast Slaughterfilm. What kept me invested in this website was how one could log the films they’ve watched, optionally rate the film from 1/2 a star to 5 stars (so it’s more like a scale from 1-10), and optionally leave a review of any length, whether it be a word, a sentence, a paragraph, or an essay. The reviews started simple, as I didn’t want to put as much effort into them as I did on a college essay of such subjects. But as time went on, I became inspired by other reviewers, some of which who are no longer there. Reviewers who go the extra mile, make detailed analysis of films, and make one learn something more about the film, gain extra insight into it. The type of reviews that make me envious, making me think, “I wish I was as talented as these guys.” They inspired a lowlife like me to make an effort like that from time to time, though they make this stuff look easy.
Reviewers such as Adam Cook, CinemaClown, Aaron, and Dragonknight were all inspiring reviewers to me, as well as to others (more recently Kevin Jones). Then there were those who demonstrated just how interactive and fun of a community letterboxd could actually be. Cinemonster and his annual Hoop-Tober challenge, where he challenges himself and other users to watch 31 horror-themed films following certain guidelines (ex: there must be 1 film directed by Tobe Hooper). David Topper and his Noir-November challenge. All these users on this unique social-media site broadened my horizons, got me to seek out films I would likely never have seen without their encouragement. And the occasional smartass reviewer who didn’t hold back on some foul language in his earlier reviews, such as Todd Gaines (a name taken from the film Go, which has nothing to do with the board game, though there is a Korean film that can indulge people on that). And how we would comment on each others reviews. Sometimes I would go deep and discuss the heavy themes of the film, critique another review, challenging its stance on a film, which resulted in some nice debates that continued to produce more insight into the film and the conversations it can produce. Other times we would just lightheartedly bust each others’ balls. It was fun times.
Then the years passed, and I sought others to follow, who’s reviews I thought would also provide interesting insight. Naturally, I sought those who were the most popular, who had the most followers. Because surely the more followers they have, the more there must be a good reason for it, right?
Cue 2016. Yeah, that was a rough year, the year where mainstream media went full-tilt in making everything so politically heated to the point where friends became enemies on social media, where family members (in real life, not on the web) became torn asunder. Where some of our ugliest natures were brought into the light. It’s the year where everything began to slowly but surely fall apart. It began innocently enough. One user who I followed at the time was Sally Jane Black, one of the most popular users on the site at the time. She (or he, not sure which, the profile states the individual is trans) wrote a review on that 2004 ice hockey film Miracle, which starred Kurt Russel. Here’s a portion of the review (which is most of it):
I wish the United States were worthy of the dreams portrayed here, of the pride, of the glory given it in the chants and the uniforms and the flags. Of course, it isn’t and never will be, and never has been either, but for over two hours this movie does a good enough job of helping you like that these kids believe it anyway. You never lose sight of the fact that we live in a vile hellhole of country that has systematically and intentionally marginalized people in the name of venomous self-interest, but you just kinda don’t mind that these kids and Kurt Russell are sacrificing everything actually good in their lives for the glory of a nation that would eat them alive if they weren’t all white cishets.
I looked at the comments, some of which got ugly, and made a comment of my own. I didn’t use any foul language, and I don’t remember what I said exactly, but it was something along the lines of, “Chill out, America isn’t that bad, especially compared to the other countries out there.” In the past, I would usually get a reply, and engage in a back-and-forth discussion. Sometimes they wouldn’t want a discussion, to which I would think, “Fair enough, I’ll end it here.” Not so this time. This was the first case where I discovered that users could be “blocked,” which results in you not only being unable to make anymore comments on any of their reviews, but also be unable to “Like” one of their reviews. On top of that, any comments you have made on their reviews becomes invisible to everyone (hence why I’m unable to retrieve my exact comment on the review). This was off-putting, and my first experience encountering the intolerant, the anti-patriot, and the anti-patriot LGBT. Little did I know that 2016 would be the start of a breeding ground for people like this, who multiply quickly, and begin to have numbers that can’t be ignored.
It was petty, but I couldn’t fully get over it. Like most social media sites, it becomes easy to turn a small thing into a big thing. It’s the manner in how closeted someone like that is, despite claiming to have come out of the closet. How closed off and isolated they make their beliefs/politics, unwilling to be challenged. Taking the fun out of back-and-forth constructive (or ball-busting) debates. And debates are one of my passions, especially when it goes hand-in-hand with all other passions, including film and games. In hindsight, it was less the individual and more of what the individual stood for (SJW) that made me slowly transform my feelings towards them from semi-respect for a fellow reviewer with different opinions albeit interesting ones, to shock at seeing that their opinions and personality become less interesting and more ignorant and filled with loathing, to disliking them altogether when looking upon their other reviews that came soon after this one.
I thought that would be an isolated incident. I thought wrong. As the months/years went on I began to realize I had been blocked by others. At some point, I decided this should be something I should be a bit proud of, making reviews that unintentionally offend (well, with some exceptions; there are reviews I make that I hope do offend others, making them outraged, encouraging them to comment, seeing if that will lead to some more debate). So I made a list of those who have blocked me; a list composed of films that are linked one way or another to the individuals who have blocked me (each film representing an individual, mainly because it’s either a review that I wanted to “Like” but couldn’t, or because of some comment). There was one exception where some guy was trolling/spamming me, so I blocked that little cocksucker, but that’s the one exception. More on this later.
Come 2017, when I watched and reviewed a documentary called The Red Pill. Since Sally Jane Black (whose initials SJB made it irresistible for me to use the term Social Justice Bitch) was still on my mind, I mentioned her name in the review, stating that the review was partly for her. I even made a unique intro and outro paragraph taking a jab at her. A few months later when I made a comment about something that led me to take another look at my review, I found that it wasn’t there. It was gone. Wiped from history, wiped from the records (not to mention all the “Likes” were gone). It was at this point I became infuriated, but was glad I saved the review on this blog site so that it was easy to put it back up on Letterboxd. And I did mail the moderators about this, and they basically stated something about not using a user’s actual name in the review in a negative light. “So shouldn’t I have been given at least a warning to edit the review before it gets taken down?” I thought. Apparently not. But losing the review was one thing, losing all the comments in the review thread made it hurt even more. One of those I got into a heavy back-and-forth debate with was user Cameron M Johnson. And much to my delight and everlasting thanks, he had kept screenshots of most of the comments, so I was able to repost them.
It was at that point when I realized that Letterboxd isn’t all that reliable, that they’re capable of deleting content quite easily at the behest of winy little bitches. So I held my blog site with much more importance when it comes to storing records of note-worthy reviews/topics than I do a social media site. Bottom line, no matter how much you may trust it, no social media site is safe from censorship.
But anyway, I blamed Sally Jane Black for the whole ordeal. I had doubts that she was the one who flagged the review, but if it wasn’t her, it was definitely one of her followers. In any case, attacking her would end up being an attack on them, so I placed the blame on her. Not fair, not ethical, but at that point it was no longer something petty to me (hey, I’m just telling it like it is; I’m aware that this makes me come off as an asshole, and I won’t deny that I kind of am one; at least I admit it).
But after I had a month or so to cool off, I did my best to brush it off. Didn’t want to pursue the matter any further. I made an effort to try to let bygones be bygones. Because I knew deep down that I shouldn’t hold grudges like this. It’s not healthy, and there are more important battles to fight. Did maintain a growing number of people on the Bridges Burned list however (the list of those who have blocked me). Meanwhile more users became more radical/emotional with their reviews, still fanning the flames started up in 2016, and exploded near the end of 2016 when Trump got elected president, which spurred a lot of users to make reviews on films that weren’t about the films at all and ran on tangents that went like, “Trump is evil, America is fucked, conservatives and cop-lovers and patriots all deserve to choke in hell, boo-fuckity-hoo, fuck my life and fuck you.” The back-and-forths I’ve had resulted in a few more people blocking me (intolerant bunch of fuckers), and there became less of them overall. Less reviews that invite discussion, less people willing to comment, including those of the past I have followed. Guess it’s the inevitable result of years going by, people are bound to move on. Though I still stuck with reviews. Plus I found other users I personally believed to be worth following, particularly Arielrocks5, another LGBT, but one who is cooler than SJB. She seemed like the female equivalent to Todd Gaines, a smartass, a ball-buster, and had fun energetic reviews (though she was also one of those who did one of those tangent reviews recently mentioned). Have to admit though, my interest began to wane on the site, to the point where I didn’t put forth an annual monetary donation to make me a pro member. Just wasn’t feeling it this time around. Was hoping something would ignite that spark in me as has happened in the past. So far, it hasn’t happened.
Cut to recent times. Something eventually happened with me. A result of slow degradation, slow buildup of frustration. A realization that there weren’t enough like-minded people like me that I could find on that site. Don’t get me wrong, alternative opinions are nice and all, but they get tiring after a while, especially when I can’t find a way to agree with them. 4-5 star reviews for films I thought sucked, 1 star reviews for films that I thought were good (or at least decent). Too many of those, making me wonder why the hell these are the most popular reviews on that site, with those viewpoints. Especially for praise for The Last Jedi (seriously, where the hell is the review equivalent to MauLer and E;R and The Dishonoured Wolf for that movie on letterboxd?). So I finally snapped after watching the film The Book of Henry, a film that got largely negative reviews from just about everyone. And I posted a review which contains these excerpts:
My thoughts are I no longer trust any of you hypocritical assholes that I follow. I no longer trust your ratings, or your reviews. I thought this movie was fun, albeit a bit far-fetched (but compared to the shit you people give high ratings too, it’s firmly grounded in reality by comparison). The unbridled praise you give for some films that I think are shit (ie Star Wars: The Last Jedi), and the unbridled hate for some that I enjoyed in the past (ie Warcraft). Then again, why should I be surprised? It’s my firm belief that every film critic, no matter who they are, where they’re from, or however long they’ve been reviewing films is a fucking hypocrite (and I’m no exception to this).
It is also said that one shouldn’t spread hatred, or express disapproval over stuff like this, about what others think about a movie, or something like that. To that I said bullshit. Fuck that, and fuck you people for scoring this film so low, and double fuck you for making me trust in your opinions a long while back. That’s over now. Might just change my ways over this shit. Up until now I’ve been trying to only “Like” reviews that seemed well-thought-out analyses of movies, whether it’s a paragraph, or an essay in length (very rarely does a one-sentence review cut it). Difficult to do that now. So I’m just simply going to “Like” reviews that I find entertaining. And that entertainment comes in-part with confirmation bias. Everyone seems to be doing it, so why not me? The difference is, I have better tastes than most of you bottom-feeders. That is harsh, but it’s a harsh world, and I’ve accepted that hardly any of you give a damn about me or my opinions anymore than I usually give a damn about yours when it doesn’t match up with mine.
There are some reviews with a different opinion (and thus love/hate) regarding a film that I actually appreciate. Those who love/hate the movie Mother!, I see merit in the arguments for and against the film. Warcraft, I can understand some of the flack that film gets, considering it’s stripped down version of what it should’ve been. Blade Runner 2049, despite its faults, I can understand and agree with those who have a greater liking for that movie than I do.
But there are some films where the praise/hatred for it I just don’t get. Some of it I fault for ignorance, people intentionally shutting off a large enough amount of their brains to where they become the retarded masses a movie, with plot holes up the ass and condemnation for everyone else, was made for. Some of it I fault for them being raised wrong. Some of it I fault for the type of people letterboxd attracts a high enough amount of, the type that start off small and don’t seem like a big deal, until there’s so many they put a stain on just about everything. Some of it I fault herd mentality (and not just your friends, but what sources of influence you listen to that tell you whether or not to like something, and you do so without much thinking, like the sheep you are, letting them sheer your wool as easily as you give your time and money). Some of it I fault on the number of decent reviewers who used to be on this site who have left for good, and are never coming back.
Either way, I trust none of you. I despise a lot of your opinions. And I’m done trying to play nice on this site. This isn’t about a popularity contest, about trying to get the most followers. This is about me giving my own opinions and analysis on films that I can have on record for myself. If anyone else is entertained by these reviews, good for you, suck on a lolipop. Everyone else can suck a boil-covered dick. Your opinions are ass, and you wouldn’t know how to defend them on any form of objective grounds.
“But being entertained by movies is a subjective thing! I don’t have to defend my opinions on why I cherish/revile this thing to someone like you!”
If films can be cherished or reviled, then so can the reviews, if you can call them that.
A few days after making this review, I see another review from ArielRocks5 that I wanted to “like,” but couldn’t. She had me blocked. And I know this had to have happened recently, because she had “liked” my review for Cinema Paradiso, which I had made on June 4 (compared to the Henry review made June 15). I figured I would lose some followers over that review, but I honestly wasn’t expecting her to be one of them. I think back on the previous year or two where we had some fun times and fun reviews. I liked some of hers, she liked some of mine. Exchanged comments. Laughter at some of the things we said, even in spite of us have extreme disagreements over a few things, such as the 2016 Ghostbusters film which she loved, and I hated. On the other hand, I guess I shouldn’t have been too surprised, considering she follows a few people who have blocked me, including SJB. This one managed to hit me a bit. So I proceed to add her to the Burned Bridges list…
…only to find that the list had disappeared, like that Red Pill review once did. Guess I should’ve known, moderators don’t like people making reviews where user names are mentioned, why should it be any different for lists? Yet I should’ve seen this coming, as SJB actually commented on a thread I had participated in regarding the Vietnam War, mentioning I had a list of haters. Funny how news of that spreads to someone who has blocked me and shouldn’t have any interest in me after doing that. I did leave a warning on my Red Pill review that should some deletion without warning of that sort ever happen again, I take the gloves off. Yet, I’m too tired. Too tired to have this anger continue to drive me; that only works in short spurts for films that pissed me off. Too tired to have a hate-filled tirade about how pissed I am about all this. Because ultimately, it’s nowhere near as big of a deal as losing the review and the comments (which got replaced). But I couldn’t let this go without saying something about it either.
So it comes down to this. How much of this is on me? Did I go too far past the line too often? Am I as filled with self-loathing and loathing for others as those who also have self-loathing and loathing for someone like me? Why is it that my tastes in film are so different from the average letterboxd user? Why are so many so filled with hate for people and things that don’t deserve their misguided hatred? Why am I so affected by something that should be so petty? Why is it that they would rather block me than unfollow me when I’m not even spamming the comments (let alone hardly commenting at all)?
But then I think, “You know, I’m not the one blocking them, they’re the ones blocking me. I put up with their reviews which I think are shit-taste most of the time, but they don’t put up with mine. I get in debates with them some of the time, but a portion of them would rather block me to end the debate rather than state they no longer wish to debate with me (I never stick around when I’m asked to leave).”
Conclusion: some of the fault is mine, I share some of the responsibility for my downward spiral on letterboxd. But so do they. They have grown more intolerant and more political since 2016. And I blame the mainstream media and cocksucking Hollywood for subliminally messaging people into becoming this intolerant/political/divisive, to the point where they don’t even want to have a debate, to where they don’t want their views challenged, to where broadening one’s horizons is now discouraged. They follow a herd mentality, and like a movie because someone/something else tells them to. I debate to break them from this trend, or else see what arguments they have to convince me to fall into the trend, or vice-versa, but little to no users will have it anymore. So I say thank God (though I’m not religious) I’m not like them. As vicious and dickish as I am now, I’ve got nothing on many of these people. But I still hold out hope that the trend will break; that fun can be had again; that everyone’s tolerance levels are built back up. While it does pain me to not be around others who have a similar mindset, who have similar tastes, I would rather take the pain than live a lie.
The only thing I regret is that I wasn’t born a more patient and nicer individual. But I will not regret the things I’ve said when I have spoken honestly, even if it’s blunt to the point of pain. Blunt remarks are the ones most prone to a response. And it’s not that there aren’t other reviewers who don’t share my point of view, it’s just that they’re not on letterboxd, which is crazy considering how many users are on that site.
Well, here’s to hoping things will improve down the line, and happy 5 year anniversary.
PS: Yeah, I inserted a bunch of random gifs just in case you didn’t give a shit about anything that was written.