THE BACKLASH ERA: IS BEASTS BACKLASH PROOF?
Over at Awards Daily Sasha Stone asks the important question: will the hype over the upcoming release, Beasts of the Southern Wild, will provoke an inevitable, even greater backlash, as is the natural life cycle of the Backlash Era?
Beasts has been playing at festivals for half a year now and been winning raves everywhere, starting at Sundance. My review is to be penned so I won’t reveal whether I liked it or not other to say it is the best American film so far this year, quite possibly the best film period so far this year.
With its release looming however, the film does not yet seem to have provoked a general backlash and there is, as Sasha points out, reason to hope that it might not, that a film might just escape under the wire with people just liking it and not lashing out against it in response (Can anyone even name the last time that happened? Could’ve happened with The Artist, until the Oscar campaign pushed it into major Backlash Era territory. Before that…Toy Story 3?..Hurt Locker?)
So could Beasts sneak through Unbacklashed? Just like olden days. My considered answer is…it might! Not likely but it could.
Read this whole post, it’s so smart. Richard Rushfield is one of my favorite voices writing about movies and entertainment right now. He’s always sharp and spot-on and generally trustworthy.
Regarding this thesis, I would agree that movies, especially independent movies doing the molasses-slow platform release, don’t end up on the same hype cycle because not as many people are able to weigh in about it.
I also think that film writers just aren’t as cool or “influential” because film’s lost its cultural cache to TV (but technically, it’s really, like five shows that are generally obsessed over, not 2 Broke Girls or most TV, which is funny. Would the likes of Carnivale or Bored to Death be part of your argument about the “golden age” of TV?) and the “holy trinity” of film writers aren’t tweeting/blogging/connecting-with-the-youth in the same way (like David Denby, Anthony Lane, David Edlestein, Manola-with-no-face, and then there’s Richard Brody, who talks in linguistic circles to make mumblecore films/terribly boring art mediocrities sound like actual profundities when they’re middling). And the youth that are determined to write professionally about films - beyond my smart friends who mostly are on fanboy sites - are boring writers with no sense of journalistic ethics and even less sense about film history.
It would be different if there were three Wesley Morris-types at relevant publications. Or if A.O. Scott and David Carr merged and became a super macha film critic with a twitter presence. Or if Grantland had Molly Lambert weigh in on every film, ever.
PS. I wrote about Benh Zeitlin’s excellent Beasts precursor, Glory at Sea! in 2009, when it made me cry. Watch it!