Everyone's A Critic | Script Revolution

Everyone's A Critic


Alan Mehanna approached me after the last Script Revolution newsletter, offering to guest blog and giving me a link to the articles on his personal website. What I found was a treasure trove of thought pieces that really resonated with me. This is my favourite so far and puts forward the question that maybe we expect too much sometimes and that expectation turns us cynical. It certainly cause me to stop and thing, and I'm certainly looking forward to more from Alan in the future - CJ

I have been getting quite irritated lately with the way audiences have been complaining about recent films, and serialized content. Sure, I am guilty of criticizing, and sharing my opinion but I have always been the kind of audience member that seeks to enjoy what I am watching. I don't know whether I am just way too forgiving, or naive, but I sometimes feel like I rather enjoy content that others do not.

How about I give you an example?

Throughout this entire season of Game of Thrones - don't worry I shall spoil nothing - many watchers complained about this season being too slow, or too predictable, or whatever else they come up with...I, however, have enjoyed every single moment. Sure, as a screenwriter, I could see some storylines forming, I could see some pieces moving on the chess board, but that did not take away from the fun of watching the show.

Not all watchers felt this way, although if you dig deep into the conventions of the fantasy genre (cue all those who are going to proclaim that GRRM broke conventions when he wrote Game of Thrones), everything about the overall structure of the series fits perfectly into the conventions. Sure, if we look at the events separately, many of them broke conventions and it all started with Ned Stark's death in the first season. But, on a larger scale, the death of the Stark patriarch pushed the whole family into a game not all of them were ready to play, all leading to where they are now.

On a few forums, many blame the internet because of the countless theorizing, spoiling, etc. I don't think that the internet is to blame. I listen to two great unofficial Game of Thrones podcasts, one of which is known for spoiling (A Storm of Spoilers - highly recommended) and it has never negatively affected my viewing the series. Personally, I believe that we, as audience members, have lost touch with watching with a pure perspective.

We've simply become cynics.

Gone are the days of watching and believing in magic. Gone are the days when plot twists shocked us. Gone are the days of letting go and giving ourselves to stories.
We have to question, and ponder, and analyze, and theorize...
Let me make myself clear, I am not saying we should dumb ourselves down so that we can enjoy, but what I am asking is when does asking too much become the cause of our disappointment.

Why does everything have to be questioned?

Why can't we just enjoy the mystery?

During the first few years of cinema, all it took for people to be entertained were short films of people walking out of work, a train docking into a train station, parents feeding their child ice cream. 

Nowadays, nothing seems to satisfy.

The audience demand one thing, and when they receive it, they are unhappy and demand something else entirely. Maybe the whole concept of on-demand is to blame...maybe it is the ability for audiences to receive what they demand right now, and in an instant is what is somehow affecting the way content is being received...

As a screenwriter, and someone who is also venturing into the world of novels for the first time, this makes me rather nervous and fuels me with self-doubt.

Could this whole thing be human nature's obsession with tearing down good because of some deep sense of dissatisfaction with our own lives?

We demand, and demand, and demand...but what do we give in return? Do we give the benefit of the doubt? Do we let go and respect the work that is laid before us? Do we give credit where credit is due?

I watch content to enjoy it. I read novels to enjoy them. I don't overthink, I don't over analyze.

Don't get me wrong, I am someone who loves cinema, and serialized content obsessively and I do look for all the technicalities and the process of how a film, or a series was made but I don't over do it. I allow my inner child to enjoy it. I allow the magic of it all to fill me. I let go of all my real world cynicism and just watch.

Yes, there are times where even that is not enough, cue Warcraft.

Another in the fantasy genre, Warcraft failed on many levels and not even my belief in magic and mystery could protect it from my disappointment. The story was weak, the characters did not fulfill their parts, not to mention the cartoon-esque CGI. With Warcraft, predictability was only the surface. With so much content available from the games, the writers did not even challenge the audience. With all that said, the film is finding great success in China which will guarantee sequels.

Maybe this entire blog post is a rant. Maybe it is my previously mentioned self-doubt talking. Or maybe it is my frustration with how the world now criticizes a craft that is my oxygen.

A dear friend of mine once told me that the higher I place my expectations in people, the more disappointed I was going to be. I'd like to say the same thing to the world wide audience of films and serialized content. The higher you place cinema, or serialized content on a golden pedestal, or an iron throne, the more disappointed you are going to be, and the more you are going to feel like showrunners, or directors are failing you.

You are the cause of your own disappointment.

It is just that simple.

Original post on Alan Mehanna's personal website: http://www.alanmehanna.com/season-2/2016/6/21/everyones-a-critic

About The Author

Alan Mehanna's picture
Real name: 

I have always wanted to be a bridge between the East and West and writing is how I am going to do it. I have multiple screenplays currently in Screenplay competitions and festivals. During my free time, I freelance as an actor, a screenplay doctor, and I also teach Screenwriting in three local universities in Lebanon. In late 2000, my family and I moved from my home country of Lebanon to the United States where I finished my high school education, completed my Bachelor's of Fine Arts Degree...Read more



John Cowdell's picture

Another fantastic piece! Everyone these days, especially on social media, seems to be a critic. Everyone seems to have an opinion on films and feel the need to write their own reviews. I've never been a fan of critics and would rather make up my own mind about something. You can't go on youtube these days without seeing some nobody with their own channel reviewing films. Yes, I'm ranting now, but I'm just glad someone has shined a light on this current trend. I could probably talk more on the subject but it would just end up turning into my own blog lol.

Alan Mehanna's picture

I am super glad that my blog post resonated with you!