At Dragon Con 2013, I Accidentally Got on a Panel about Hating Movies

     September 2, 2013


Dragon Con was this weekend, and I had a pretty good time.  One of the things that makes Dragon Con different than other comic conventions I’ve attended is that the panels are looser.  The biggest ones are usually annual affairs where actors from popular genre TV series like Star Trek get up and do a Q&A with the audience for an hour or so.  But there’s plenty of variety; for example, I attended a panel on the particulars of podcasting and another panel about Victorian-era self-defense.  I couldn’t even get into the panel for “Adult Origami”.

One of the panels I waivered back-and-forth on attending was called “Most Hated Movies”.  On the one hand, it was a fan-panel, which meant it was a free-for-all where people would talk about movies they hated, which I don’t think should be a rallying point.  On the other hand, I needed to satisfy my morbid curiosity, and felt I hadn’t attended enough panels.  So my friend Brad (who’s the Assistant Director of the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival) and I decided to swing by.  It turned out our friend Charles Judson, who’s the Artistic Director of the Atlanta Film Festival, was on the panel.  Brad and I went up to say hello, and Charles asked if we wanted to join.  So rather than being in the audience, we were now on the panel and had a front-row seat to what was a unique experience.  Hit the jump for what I learned from a roomful of people hating movies.

the-blair-witch-project-posterHaving been brought up at the last minute and having never even attended a fan panel before, I had no idea what to expect.  Brad, Charles, and I were joined by the panel moderator and a random con-goer from the audience.  I felt we were off to an already disconcerting tone when the moderator led by giving an example of a movie she hated by talking about how she wanted her money back after seeing The Blair Witch Project, and not understanding why people thought it was so great.  Already I was confused for several reasons.  First, the program guide indicated that the movies being discussed were big Hollywood productions, and Blair Witch Project was anything but.  Also, it wasn’t clear where this was headed (if anywhere).  Was the problem marketing?  Word of mouth?  Or nothing more than personal preference?

From there, the floodgates opened and the panel became a way of airing personal grievances and a lot of disagreement over what was good and bad in individual movies.  As the crowd became more raucous, I overheard one attendee astutely comment, “Oh, no.  It’s the Internet.”   The moderator tried her best to call on all the raised hands in the audience, and also bring it back to the panelists by trying to find out what we thought were bad movies.

For my part, I decided I wanted to be a counterbalance.  A room filled with people hating movies is a bit disheartening.  I do understand frustrations with particular films, and there are some things that cause me to “hate” certain movies.  I joined the chorus when someone mentioned The Last Airbender, and I tried to explain that I also dislike movies that have repulsive subtexts such as the puritanical message of What’s Your Number? (I got a lot of puzzled looks because no one had seen the picture).

harry-potter-prisoner-of-azkaban-posterHowever, through all of the individuals’ personal problems with movies, some thoughtful issues did emerge.  For instance, there was a scientist in the audience who simply had to give up on any movie involving science because the inaccuracies drove him crazy.  There was another person who brought up the worthwhile point that it feels like some filmmakers completely disregard the fanbase or don’t understand the property.  A young woman took that sentiment to what I felt was an extreme when she said she hated Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban because director Alfonso Cuaron “didn’t comprehend” the source material.  I countered by saying that Cuaron did the best thing for the franchise by not treating the books as holy writ like Chris Columbus did with the first two movies.  “Agree to disagree,” she replied.

There was a lot of agreeing to disagree.  People were passionate, and that’s good, and in my closing statements, I tried to encourage that passion towards a more positive direction.  Hating movies can be fun.  I absolutely understand that.  But it’s also unproductive.  That’s why I stopped doing a year-end “Worst of” list.  I give you a list of movies not to see, and if you don’t go see them, then that’s the end of it.  Having said that, the passion to hate some movies also means there’s also a deep love for other films.  I tried to appeal towards the audience’s better angels, and encouraged them to share their film appreciation instead of just spouting hatred.  Yes, it was kind of a hippie message, but I wanted to at least try to bring some positivity into the room.

Perhaps next year, Dragon Con will have a “Most Loved Movies” panel, although I don’t know if it will be as well-attended as the “Most Hated Movies” (at one point, people were standing along the walls because there weren’t enough seats).  Either way, I was still happy to be on this year’s panel even if my presence was unintentional and at the end, someone pointed out that when they see movies, they make sure to ignore the critics.


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  • kj

    …Goldberg, you clearly haven’t the slighest idea what puritanical means.

    • Matt Goldberg

      There may not be a religious overtone, but the term has expanded to include a condemnation of sexual activity for women. It expanded because that belief arose from a religious standpoint.

      But you’re right. I have no idea what it means. If only there was a book that contained definitions of words. Oh well.

      • T-Mo

        Matt I think you confuse “accidentally” with “agreed.” I’m pretty sure it is impossible to accidentally say yes to an obviously meaningful question. I say obviously because you cared enough about it to write this article.

        Other than that I enjoyed the post!

  • Aaron Sullivan

    I wonder if you realize that you felt the way many of your frustrated readers feel when they read a particularly irrational and/or snarky review or comment from you.

    Either way, that was a nice story about a curious panel. Seems like venting attracts crowds.

    I do wish more people would try not to throw an entire experience out for one or two issues that crop up. Part of enjoying a movie is the responsibility of the viewer. Some will enjoy 80% of a movie and not like one thing and then give into the easy pleasure of hating on it. It’s like having a great time on a date, getting to know someone special and then mocking the person you dated all the next day because you just couldn’t get over that one crooked tooth he/she had. What a waste.

  • Steve

    I definitely don’t dislike Matt’s opinions nearly as many as others, but this article has me frustrated because it has this air of “oh, how did I end up HERE, of all places?”

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Matt doesn’t read the comments (because let’s be honest, the comments can be outright awful), but I find it hard to believe he’s been able to go this far without hearing that he’s built a reputation as something of a Negative Nelly…. yet here he is, talking about this panel like he was surprised and put-off by all of the hostility on hand. In that case, he’s either goading us with these opinion pieces; intentionally “being Goldberg” for the sake of soliciting a reaction, or he is just completely tuned-out to the outside world. Goldberg, if you’re out there, I would love to know what’s going on in the mind of Goldberg.

    As for the panel itself… well, I’m with the guy who said “Oh, no. It’s the Internet.”

    “I hate this movie!”
    “Ummm….. agree to disagree!”

  • Lance

    I agree, hating on films is a waste of time, but some so-called “fans” love to direct all their energy in that direction. I don’t get it. Talk about the movies you love, not the ones you hate.

    I can always spot the haters at Comic-Con, they’re just so obviously soured and embittered on a deep down level. Honestly I suspect there’s just a lot wrong going on in their lives, but movies is the direction they channel their general anger toward.

  • jack


  • Saltonstall

    I actually agree with Matt (for once) concerning the HP subject. Cuaron really hit the perfect balance between staying too faithful and straying too far. I often felt that Yates’ films, well-made and entertaining as they were, left out some of the more important moments of the series.

    • WAldenIV

      Shouldn’t you blame Steve Kloves’ screenplays then?

  • artofstu

    I thought Dragon Con was a gaming convention. Never been, but that was always my impression.

  • OhDawg

    Is “Prisoner of Azkaban” the one that starts with a shot of Harry playing with his wand under the covers of his bed? Because that shot is brilliant. I’m not sure that was in the books, but maybe it was…

    • Pk

      Yep. That woman Who criticised that movie should be sucker punched in the face. Prisoner is by far the best movie the series. Cauron brought a fresh new approach to the series. I wish he came back for the rest of the series.

      • OhDawg

        Also, and going back again to the shot I mentioned, it seems quite clear that Cuaron had a fairly complete comprehension of the material when he filmed that book. Maybe I wouldn’t necessarily punch that woman in the face, because she was clearly a person who was used to having bad luck when she tried to think. That shit can’t be easy.

      • mbmarquis69

        Cuaron was one of the few HP directors who understood what makes a great novel into a great film.

      • Grayden

        I agree. I finally read ‘Prisoner’ and I was impressed by how much he understood. How he evolved what was on the page into what was on screen was pretty spot on. Having seen the film so many times, reading the book was almost a reversal compared to everyone who read the book first, then saw the film. I was imagining everything playing out in the movie as I was reading, save for the scenes that were cut out.

      • Greyson

        while Prisoner is not my favorite movie in the series, it’s the only movie I like more than the book. i hope that makes sense.

  • TwiceBorn

    I must admit I’m a Goldberg fan for two reasons.

    1. His reviews are decent reviews. Sure, sometimes he has said some dumb stuff that seems to intentionally rile people up, but he’s just a movie reviewer. You shouldn’t take it to seriously. Overall, he does him job well.

    2. The unsubstantiated hate towards him. Fanboys get so embittered and frothing at the mouth towards Goldberg. I simply can’t understand why ANYONE could ever get upset over a negative review. It makes no sense. There will always be a negative review for a movie, and no one makes their decision based on one review unless they’ve built up a trust for the reviewer. If you don’t typically agree with Goldberg’s reviews, than why do you read them? The fact that Colider readers have such unsubstantiated hate towards Goldberg as a human person makes me want to support him.

    • HeSaidSheSaidReviewSite

      You like him because others dislike him? Sounds like a troll.

    • Kevin

      He’s very opinionated, which I like because it is different than a lot of critics who pander and are afraid to say exactly what they feel. A lot of people think he does it to piss people off, but I appreciate his honesty.

      • Grayden

        Ebert was never afraid to say what he felt, he just said with a different tone that wasn’t as combative as Matt’s is. While I find too much opinion and not enough critiquing of the films get’s a bit tiresome, at the end of the day none of Matt’s reviews are going to stop me from going to see a movie I want to see. Collider handles mostly film buffs, so it’s not as if he reviews are reaching millions like Roeper, Travers, and White. Whatever impact those reviewers have on opening weekend is massive compared to what Matt achieves. I don’t really think on it too much really. He doesn’t care what any of us think, so return it in kind.

      • TwiceBorn

        Collider handles film buffs? Then why do I see mostly petty fanboys who throw fits whenever Goldberg reviews a sub-par film?

        Collider tries to strike a balance between film buffs and the internet fanboy movement. (I hate that term “fanboy,” but I don’t know what else to call it.) Unfortunately the ones who comment the most are the same kind of people who throw fits on Rotten Tomatoes before seeing the movie. It’s pathetic.

    • Ashtalon

      I like Goldberg’s reviews. I may not always agree with him, but at least he can intelligently defend his opinions. So many of haters/critics probably can’t so easily defend their opposite viewpoints. I also don’t understand why people have to so passionately defend something they like if someone else doesn’t like it.

  • Jay

    Most bad movies I simply want to forget and move on. But some movies stick a knife in my side and twist, usually AFTER I step out of the theater and really start thinking about what I just saw.

    The movies that really boil my blood are politically-motivated movies. Nothing makes me hate a movie more than one with a political message aimed at kids.

    Movies and media are in a dubious position of power: they can reach a wide audience and they can make a huge impact on public opinion, but they take nearly no responsibility for that impact because they claim artistic freedoms. Unfortunately, somewhere along the line society has chosen the chaos inherent in freedoms of expression over good taste. Morality has been lumped in with religion and pushed aside in favor of immediate gratification. Kids are exposed to sex and drugs and crippling cynicism at such an early age – this doesn’t make them wiser – it makes them live fast and burn out at an early age.

    “To have a right to do a thing is not at all the same as to be right in doing it.”
    -G. K. Chesterton

    • Nathan

      uh dude, Art imitates life, not the other way around.

      • Jay

        Um, care to elaborate? I’m not sure your sentence is at all a proper response to my comment.

      • Nathan

        Fair enough, time to dish out my inner film snob.

        Just because a movie can reach a wide audience does not mean the audience is going to watch it, and even if they did their reaction will never be exactly what the makers intended.

        Also, “instant gratification” only works when the audience gets what they WANT. Not what is simply placed in front of them.

        Morality is a very ambiguous term, care to elaborate on that?

        As for cynicism, i reluctantly agree. Although I doubt kids will listen to their elders cynicism, and instead rebel against. There is a difference between hearing and listening, watching and understanding, and so on…

      • Jay

        Well, instant gratification comes to everyone differently, and is broad in scope, i suppose. Even if it doesn’t ‘work’ on some people in specific situations, that does not stop filmmakers from attempting it, and that’s really all that matters.

        Filmmakers will often present a problem then immediately allow one of the film’s characters to solve it, thus putting the audience’s mind at ease. This cycle of problem->uncertainty->solution->relax->
        problem->uncertainty->solution->relax is just one example of the idea of audience instant gratification cycle. This is also the most popular kind of movies being made. Avatar and The Avengers come to mind, not that I don’t enjoy these types of films.

        As for morality, you’re right it’s a vast subject.

        Have you ever noticed how often the characters in movies make the right choice? Almost always, and always after very little to no deliberation. I guess a lot of movies don’t even deal with choices, but rather with the even more ambiguous subject of motivation. A character doesn’t necessarily need to make the right choice if their heart is in the right place. That’s all good and fine for adults because we know the consequences off their choices, but children don’t. Children need to be taught the differences between right and wrong in a very clear manner – later in life, after some time and experience, they’ll see how those decisions lead to motivation which lead to action.

        Iron Man 3, for example, had such an array of advanced emotional themes that children can’t follow it. It was shown that Stark has PTSD, which is basically “the repeated, intrusive remembering of highly arousing (and upsetting) negative memories.” The fear of fear itself. Those aren’t themes a child can even remotely begin to understand, yet for some reason filmmakers thought that it would make for a fun family film.

        I’m heading off into rant territory now so I’ll stop :)

      • Nathan

        I’m more worried about attack documentaries then movies with uneven themes. And even if it may seem haphazard, a movie with deep multilayered themes and messages still is better than a movie without (such as Smurfs 2).

        The cycle of Problem -> Uncertainty -> solution – > Relax is one of the oldest screenplay tricks in the book, its clique but only because it works. At least in most genres. It would be disappointing for a Triller/Horror to use this on repeat.

        Movie characters only THINK they make the right choices, thats what makes after-movie discussion so fun! : D

        I actually praise Iron Man 3 for it’s advanced themes. Even if kids don’t understand it, it sill acts as a great stepping stone for them to understand as they get older. To me, the best family movies are the ones that treat the kids, teens, adult audience as a whole. And thus talks down to nobody.

        (although I’m still in the sad minority that likes IM2 the best) : (

      • Jay

        Um, care to elaborate? I’m not sure your sentence is at all a proper response to my comment.

  • Jay

    I thought the Blair Witch Project was brilliant. I was just young enough to appreciate it, I think. The older I get the more cynical towards change I become, and TBWP was a very different kind of movie than what people were used to.

  • lol

    This was no accident…….

  • Greyson

    lol. the day that Matt Goldberg is the least negative person in a room.

  • Chachi

    Great post, Matt.

  • Fatt Goldderp

    Wow. This motherfucker is more delusional than I could have ever imagined.

  • Chodeberg

    A room full of Goldbergs? That’s some scary scary shit….

    • catherine751

      just as Albert implied I’m alarmed that a stay at home mom can get paid $8766 in four weeks on the internet. look at these guys w­w­w.J­A­M­20.c­o­m

  • Kale

    Great post Goldberg, Out of all the things that you and Allison talked about, this really sounded like lot of fun, I’ll try to go next year since, since I live in Georgia. Was there any discussions about X-men: the last stand, XMO: Wolverine, any of the Twilight movies and Catwomen? People usually give off a negative response to those movies.

  • Kevin

    That doesn’t sound as productive as it should have been. I think they should have addressed more of the why films in general are hated, not just people pointing out that they hate a certain film and then discussion. That could turn bad on someone quickly, especially if they mention a comic book movie lol.

  • MorganFleurDeLys

    Matt might be one of the worst reviewers in the industry. His criticism float a mightier than thou air of arrogance. He’s jaded & cynical. He’s the worst part of this site. I dare him to do better.

  • James

    There’s a really funny web series satirizing exactly this irrational hatred of movies (first one features Doug Jones):

  • James

    There’s a really funny web series satirizing exactly this irrational hatred of movies (first one features Doug Jones):