Hi, I’m J.
I’m not really new to MUBI ( I visit all the time), but this is my first time joining the site and posting.
Anyway, so this is probably one of the most ridiculous justifications for a movie I’ve ever read. You can read the original article here: http://insidemovies.ew.com/2012/04/09/titanic-and-the-rise-of-hater-culture/
The main problem with Gleiberman’s article is that he himself is not satisfied with his argument being subjective, he has to implicate and assume that anyone who dislikes the film is simply a “hater.” Even when he addresses the criticisms given of Cameron’s film he asserts that such critiques are “figments of their imagination,” which is purely a subjective conceit.
His last lines, “It was a movie that found love in the machine, even as the machine was destroyed. No wonder the haters hated it. Their real identification was with the machine,” is basically the same as the rhetoric rationalized by people who love Inception and say “Oh, they probably didn’t like it because they’re not smart enough to get it.”
The biggest declaration of his is the idea that somehow backlash of Titanic has fueled a"hater culture" on the internet. And the examples he gives to support such assertions don’t seem any different from what has always occurred in life: whether you like or dislike something, people always try to find some community to voice their opinion in. So stating that negative criticisms of Titanic are “computer-viral” is an exaggerated statement, if not a biased idea.
The biggest problem I have with this article is the use of the word “hater.” My observations of that word in use, is that it’ s only ever used by people in instances of disagreement. It seems to be a disparagement against either anyone who dares to not like the very thing you like, or that your dislike of something is simply because you’re jealous of it, and not because (dare I say) there’s the possibility that you have valid reasons for disliking something.
In the case of this article Gleibierman is implicating people as haters to the effect of, “how dare someone dislike a movie that I love.” This is not to say, that I don’t understand his argument, as I get that he’s trying to suggest that the backlash for Titanic is misplaced, but the examples he gives just don’t live up to his assertions. If anything, they’re mere personal affronts.
And, yes, I do realize that I’ve vented much in the same way Gleiberman has, sorry :(
But at least I recognize that my aforementioned is totally subjective. If that’s any sort of consolation….no…okay. I’ll shut up now.
Gleiberman is kind of like Armond White. He likes to insult and start fights with other critics (Last year he wrote some article calling out David Thomson because he had the temerity to compare a film to The Godfather).
Basically, he’s kind of a tool, a pretentious one who likes o use the word “Zeigeist” a lot in his reviews. And yes, his comments are a stupid justification. How about the plot, dialogue, characterization?
I saw Owen Gleiberman in line to see TOP GUN & he had major wet stains under his arms
Why am I not surprised by something like that.
It’s okay, Gleiberman almost always feels personally insulted whenever someone disagrees with him. But I see the EW comments under his article aren’t any better. Those are the sorts of comments that really break my cinephile heart. Really, Titanic is the best movie ever? Really commentors?
I agree that it’s all too easy to label people whose opinions differ from yours. But I wish the word “hater” would fade from the English lexicon. (Actually, I’d rather if it abruptly fell off a cliff and was never used again, starting right now…)
I don’t even understand what calling someone a “hater” accomplishes. Calling someone an idiot is an insult because an idiot once meant a mentally deficient person. Labelling someone a “hater” only means that they hate something — and for all people, there exists some thing that they hate. How is that an insult?
I assume that when people like Gleiberman use the word “hater”, they attach some extra meaning to it — exactly like what J said about Inception and “not being smart enough to understand it”. It then seems like “hater” is an insult or a put-down just because. And I don’t think that has any place in film criticism. It’s easy and cheap to call someone a hater, and while it may be harder to look at things from the "hater"’s perspective, in the end it makes for better criticism.
I’ll play mea culpa.
When I first saw the film in theaters opening weekend, I was – admittedly – blown away by the visuals of the film and came out of it thinking this was as close to a big old fashioned Hollywood epic as you could see in the late 20th century. I saw it again a year later and the flimsiness of the narrative and the awful dialogue was all I could remember. The visual splendor no longer had effect. Years later, I caught it again and the film’s aesthetic and CGI looked badly dated. How did I become a hater? Was it just a pure reaction or not? I’ll leave it for you to decide.
Haha, your topic actually links to a REALLY bad film. James Cameron’s Titanic is a flawless masterpiece in comparison.
“saw it again a year later and the flimsiness of the narrative and the awful dialogue was all I could remember. The visual splendor no longer had effect.”
isn’t that the deal with most Cameron films though?
I remember being completely blown away by T2 in 1991, but when i revisited it years later, i couldn’t get over how bad the acting and dialogue was at times.
it’s still a good movie, but yeah, it definitely lost something. Same with Aliens. although Aliens is still really good.
Cameron lost me after The Abyss and I’ve never been able to get back.
Glenn Kenny has an amusing post on the pre-release hype and “anticipatory schadenfreude” surrounding the initial release of Titanic here
@matt parks: Please tell me The Abyss was NOT the first Cameron you saw.
@joks: Whoa, hold up! Terminator 2 was the closest thing in which you could define Cameron as a “humanist”, and he’s really good at distracting us from some hammy dialogue with his direction. There’s definitely nothing lost for me.
No, no, no. I still really like Terminator. Aliens and The Abyss. Don’t think I could go back and re-watch anything he’s made since, though.
@matt parks: But you don’t like Terminator 2? Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy?!?!?!?
Also, which do you prefer? The theatrical or the DC?
I haven’t seen T2 in ages—probably since its original theatrical release—but for me it wasn’t much more than a 2 hours + of strung-together action sequences.
I share Matt’s feelings about Cameron’s films (although I haven’t seen Terminator and Aliens in a long time). And, besides the “liquid terminator,” I never really cared for T2. (Oh, I kinda liked the score, too.)
(oh, and I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen the director’s cut, Dude)
I’ve heard people say “If you show up 90 minutes late, you’ll see a great film.”
Titanic is manipulative melodrama with great visuals. Some people like manipulative melodrama, and it is excellent at achieving that end.
But those people who say that anybody who refuses to get swept up and led around emotionally by the nose ‘Has no heart’ has no personal security.
@matt parks: The DC is ridiculously long (almost 3 hours), and notable for showing the aliens wanting to destroy Earth.
From the article,
Besides, the real achievement of the script is its ingeniously organic structure…
The script may be organic, but “ingenious” seems to be pushing it. The problem, for me, is that there seems to be very little there in the script—and the film (and Gleiberman’s examples that follow the quote above weren’t that convincing to me). I didn’t think the film was bad (and I actually might have saw the film twice), and I actually thought it was pretty good. However, I couldn’t understand the popularity, and, to some extent, the acclaim the film received. I must admit I was a bit annoyed (but this was when I cared about what the Academy of Motion Pictures thought).
In any event, I’d like to understand the reasons I enjoyed the film—and why others loved it. If someone described the film to me, I’d never guess it would be as popular as it was—nor would I expect to like it very much. The best explanation I could come up with, at least pertaining to my reaction, is that I really liked the casting of DiCaprio and Winslet (especially the latter—I’m a sucker for Winslet). I’d be interested in hearing explanations from others.
My observations of that word in use, is that it’ s only ever used by people in instances of disagreement. It seems to be a disparagement against either anyone who dares to not like the very thing you like, or that your dislike of something is simply because you’re jealous of it, and not because (dare I say) there’s the possibility that you have valid reasons for disliking something.
I know what you mean, and I agree with this. However, Gleiberman observation that the film is one of the “founding manifestos of hater culture” resonates with me a bit.
I’m curious to hear what people think of Gleiberman’s explanation as to why people hate the film (bold for emphasis added)
If Titanic was one of the original lightning rods for hater culture, part of the reason that the film made such a perfect target is that what the haters were really attacking wasn’t “bad dialogue” so much as a huge, powerful, ambitious movie, by a geek-god filmmaker, that actually dared to be innocent about love. For if there’s one thing that Internet culture, with its immersion in hipness, control, technology, and a certain masculine mystique that binds all those things together, cannot abide, it is romantic innocence. It can’t abide the feminine spirit entering into the machine. And that’s the essence of what Titanic was. It was a movie that found love in the machine, even as the machine was destroyed. No wonder the haters hated it. Their real identification was with the machine. They didn’t want to see a movie in which the heart — but not the ship — goes on.
I’m also interested in hearing comments about Gleiberman’s interpretation of the film’s essence—“It can’t abide the feminine spirit entering into the machine. And that’s the essence of what Titanic was. It was a movie that found love in the machine, even as the machine was destroyed. No wonder the haters hated it.”
“For if there’s one thing that Internet culture, with its immersion in hipness, control, technology, and a certain masculine mystique that binds all those things together, cannot abide, it is romantic innocence. It can’t abide the feminine spirit entering into the machine. And that’s the essence of what Titanic was. It was a movie that found love in the machine, even as the machine was destroyed. No wonder the haters hated it. Their real identification was with the machine. They didn’t want to see a movie in which the heart — but not the ship — goes on.”
This is some of the stinkiest, corn-studded bullshit I’ve ever read. He sets up some straw-man, these designated “haters,” and then strikes down their perceived arguments without even doing any of them the courtesy of quoting them directly. And his nonsense about “femininity” and “the machine” I mean really. Gleiberman gets to set himself up as an Apostle Of LOVE, as opposed to those who dare to disagree.
Just for myself — I don’t hate TITANIC with the vehemence of some folks, but I find it hard to think of it particularly highly. I don’t have a problem with the love story, the heart of TITANIC, just mainly with the extreme clumsiness and obviousness (god, that dialogue) with which a lot of it is brought to the screen. Cameron was very very lucky to have actors of Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCapriol’s skills to add life and dimensions to what could have been very cardboard indeed.
Yeah, something doesn’t quite ring true about what Gleiberman said.
“Internet culture… cannot abide… romantic innocence.”
I don’t know where he gets this idea, and I don’t know it it’s even true. Sure, there are cynics online, but there are plenty of cynics in real life too. And if you’ve ever scrolled through a "Belieber"’s or a "Directioner"’s Twitter updates, you might find a compelling case for romantic innocence therein.
I think it would have been more fair for Gleiberman to say “I cannot abide romantic innocence”.
“I’m also interested in hearing comments about Gleiberman’s interpretation of the film’s essence—“It can’t abide the feminine spirit entering into the machine. And that’s the essence of what Titanic was. It was a movie that found love in the machine, even as the machine was destroyed. No wonder the haters hated it.””
Honestly, Gleiberman’s statements shared on this thread strike me as the type of victimization that sets up his language and statements to be attacked by exactly what he’s complaining about, in order to self-fulfill the prophecy of the straw man he creates in the Internet culture. I read what he’s writing and a primal part of me wants to don the Internet Millennial Snark Commentator cloak and tell him where to shove which machine to find what love. All of our calling out of his, well, whinging and ‘essences’ and so on, is acting on the type of reaction he seeks to create to justify his sentiments to himself. Anybody who has found themselves in a codependent relationship ought to recognize this.
So on a broader perspective, yes, Titanic haters are haters, because a hater is a person who hates and thus if they hate Titanic they are haters. I am one of those people who is somewhat mystified by how the “I went to see this movie SIX TIMES!” of when it came out became, "Aw I never bought in to that shit, everyone was all like I loves it! but I was all like, Yeah whatever. ", but frankly few people are like Ari and will take the time to state, “Look, I liked it, I reconsidered, I didn’t,” so apparently many people in 1997 never bought into Titanic’s hype all half-dozen times they went to see it. I liked it, I still like it, in fact I’m rewatching it tonight and looking forward to it, and haters can be haters. All that said, Gleiberman, you are a whiny bitch, and there’s your Internet cynicism to prove your pussyfooted point.
Jazzhola, can you explain what is it that makes you agree with Gleiberman’s statement though? Going back to J, how can you justify that anti-Titanic rhetoric is somehow the “founding manifesto,” and how is it different from other instances of overwhelming backlash? Is it just because Titanic was released around the same time of the beginning popularity of the internet? Even before Titanic, couldn’t someone much in the same vein of Gleiberman, take some sort of backlash on anything and posit it as the birth of hater culture? I agree with J. Backlash, negative criticism, hater culture, etc. has always existed (I can vouch for this, my day job requires me to sift through and research world historical perspectives). It’s just that now the internet gives us a platform that is far more public and accessible.
I’m also interested in hearing comments about Gleiberman’s interpretation of the film’s essence
Glieberman’s rendering of the film is also quite interesting. I was just viewing a Cameron special on the National Geographic Channel called “Titanic The Final Word” and Cameron, in talking about the context of the film, explains that the beauty of the story is that Titanic is literally a little microcosm of the world where much like today the privileged are saved and the poor are disposed to die. Cameron explicates that Titanic should be a lesson of hubris or the “too big to fail” notion of man-made technology. So instead of taking this as lesson on how to take care of fellow humans, much more people are attracted to the love affair of Jack and Rose,and in the case of Gleiberman the heart of the film is Rose’s love.
Julian Fellowes’ version of Titanic does a great job with the microcosm theme. His version certainly emphasizes class distinction and in all is just better at telling an inclusive story. But, Fellowes version also lacks in terms of the emotional and terrifying experience of the tragedy; something that Cameron’s film does well.
It also seems like Glieberman’s critique has influenced others to take his stance, as I saw this comment when reading a completely different review of Titanic 3D:
Also, If anyone is looking for a hilarious review of Titanic from someone who has revisited the film click here
what happened to J? (Jazzaloha have you been mucking about with your alter egos again?:):)
^ I smell conspiracy…
How can anybody say that Titanic was the beginning of ‘hater culture’? Do you know how people were talking about Hanson and the Backstreet Boys before Titanic came out? Or before them, New Kids On The Block? Milli Vanilli?
It was probably around the time of Nirvana when people became bolder about vocalizing their disdain for popular things, and Titanic was the first film to really take the brunt of that.
This article, however, strikes me as ‘Disagreement inoculation’, basically a strategy to preemptively undercut opposing viewpoints. Somebody makes perfectly legitimate points about the manipulativeness of the dialog and the melodrama? They are ‘HATERS’, damn them! And of course somebody who is a ‘hater’ hates for the sake of hating, not because of any legitimate critical argument.
That review is funny, but it’s so auto-contrarian it makes me want to defend the movie. ;)
“It was probably around the time of Nirvana when people became bolder about vocalizing their disdain for popular things, and Titanic was the first film to really take the brunt of that.”
PLEASE. Disdain for popular culture in popular culture has been around since punk, and disdain for popular culture in culture has been around since the Lost Generation at the very least.
Yeah, but it was more constrained in subcultures.
I think James Cameron got off easy on TITANIC, compared to what George Lucas went through just a couple of years later over Jar Jar Binks and PHANTOM MENACE. The hatred unleashed (entirely justifiably, I’d say) over that character and that film was really something, far worse than any anti-TITANIC campaign I can think of.