We hear a lot about the dangers of social media. Usually, the warnings are related to what it does to our self esteem, productivity, and even our overall health. Those are definitely things we should concern ourselves with, but there’s one other thing social media has an effect on that you might not have considered. Social media has a huge impact on the entertainment industry. I argue that social media is ruining television and movies with online reviews.
Before we go on, I realize that social media has a lot of benefits, especially for film and TV. Smaller, less-well-known performers or products who might not otherwise get much attention can explode overnight thanks to Twitter or Facebook. But this blessing can also turn quickly into a curse.
Not everything has to be “Citizen Kane”
How many times have you seen a movie trailer, thought you’d like to see the film, and then read a couple of “bad” reviews about it from your friends online, so you stayed home? I can’t tell you how many times this has happened to me. My husband and I love movies – we have an AMC membership (similar to the now-horrible MoviePass), subscriptions to HBO, Netflix, and Hulu…we love a night out with a great film or staying home to watch an epic television show. But there have been several times when we’d pass on a movie or show because the online reviews were bad, only to watch the film at home later and think “Why did that get so much hate?”
This seems to be thanks to the rise of social media. The good side of it is that everyone has a voice and opinion. The downside is, we all have to hear about it. Of course, people are more than welcome to think whatever they want about a particular show or film, but that doesn’t make their opinion an expert one. And even if the person actually is an expert, that doesn’t mean that you won’t like whatever they’re complaining about. And, and, even if the person is an expert and it’s not a great product, does it have to be? While I agree that there’s no place for anything that’s overtly offensive, even “bad” movies can fun.
Twitter is dark and full of terrors
Take everyone’s current favorite punching bag “Game of Thrones”. (I’ll avoid posting any major spoilers if you’re not caught up.) While I think it’s fine to have discussions about whether the showrunners have made good choices in the very last season of the show, many people on Twitter are calling for their heads because fans don’t like what’s been happening.
It’s important and valuable to talk about what we see on the show and whether it is a reflection of us as a society or if we don’t want to emulate certain aspects. But if you haven’t watched the show at all and are just judging it based on what people are saying about it online right now, you might decide not to watch. As much as fans would like it, we don’t get to call the shots with plotlines. The creators do, whether we think they’re right or wrong. (Now, if you have heard about certain things depicted on the show, such as rape, and choose not to watch for that reason, I completely understand. That’s totally different.)
“I like it! Another!”
In the past, word of mouth was how we all heard about the latest and greatest TV show or movie. It took awhile for things to catch fire, sometimes. Today, that’s still the case, but thanks to social media, everything is so much faster. An otherwise-just-fine movie has its opening weekend, and people who don’t like it go online to rail about it, because it wasn’t “perfect”. The movie gets pulled from theaters before it even has a chance. On the flip side, a movie has a great opening weekend and turns into a box office juggernaut. The recent massive success of “Avengers: Endgame” tells me that we’re going to continue to see bigger and bigger total ticket sales. People saw it, couldn’t wait to tell their friends about how good it was, jumped online with their opinion, and more people went to see it. (If you want my opinion, “Endgame” is GREAT, but not my favorite of the entire MCU. That honor goes to “Captain America: The First Avenger.”)
Everyone’s got one…an opinion, that is!
Social media probably isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. It’s a useful tool, despite its ability to convince all of us that we’re all experts about everything and that anyone who disagrees with us is a complete moron. The best that any of us can do is trust our own opinions when it comes to entertainment. It’s perfectly fine to ask creators to raise the bar, especially in representation of women, minorities, or controversial issues. But just because you don’t like a particular plot point doesn’t mean a movie is “garbage”, it’s just not for you.
Stay tuned for Part Two of this discussion, where we’ll talk about how social media and spoilers are ruining entertainment!