Brainiac On Banjo #056: “Wait Till They Get A Load Of…”

I really don’t like doing three columns in a row about the same subject, unless that subject is me. But some people are working hard to keep alive the spirit of Fredrick Wertham while exercising their unimpeachable right to be a self-righteous arbiter of what other people should enjoy.

Yes, I’m talking about Martin Scorsese. I love almost all of his work and regard him as one of the finest filmmakers in history, but that doesn’t mitigate against his talking anus. Worse, I now have cause to conflate Scorsese with Bill Maher.

Now, I like Maher as well and I’m with him on a lot of important issues. He does confuse me because our nation’s leading advocate for the legalization of marijuana really shouldn’t be so damn skinny. He should use more indica and less sativa, except on show days. But I digress.

Bill’s been rattling against superhero movies for many months now, and I think he continues this crusade strictly because us fanboys keep on getting in his face. This starts a vicious circle. Why is he still ragging on comic book movies when he should be in Washington getting arrested for fighting for what’s left of our the environment, like Jane Fonda? And now Marty Scorsese is in the frame.

My gripe is not that Scorsese and Maher dislike superhero movies. That’s their prerogative, even if they don’t see such movies. I don’t go to movies that seem unappealing, although if enough people whose opinions I respect suggest I check something out, I might.

But both have stated that they have not seen these movies. They do not have the right to criticize movies they have not seen. We are only entitled to our informed opinion, as I utter with alarming frequency. They are completely entitled to say “That sort of thing doesn’t appeal to me” but not “These movies that I have not seen are crap.” As a kid I disliked westerns. After seeing such movies as Stagecoach (the original), The Shootist, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, and Cat Ballou – to name but four – I realized I was full of shit. Hopalong Cassidy continues to defy me, but that’s an informed opinion.

Not that I think Bill and Marty would change their opinion after viewing Doctor Strange – well, maybe Maher; Uber would not exist if not for stoners. But criticizing something you haven’t experienced is nothing more than a snootier, more egotistical form of lying.

Which brings me back to my bitch-out on Scorsese. He said the Marvel movies are not movies. He said they are theme parks. Well, he’s wrong: they are movies, they’re simply not movies that appeal to him. I’d hate to compare Marvel Studios’ total box office to his because making money and making art are two separate things, but if Marty’s thinks they’re theme parks and not movies – which is quite an insult from a master filmmaker – perhaps he’s thinking of The Tingler.

As it happens, Scorsese seems to differentiate between the Marvel Studios’ superhero output and that of Warner Bros. When the studio announced director Todd PhillipsJoker two years ago, they proclaimed Martin Scorsese to be a producer, according to The Hollywood Reporter. This item was denied by “somebody” from Scorsese’s circle.

Phillips pitched Joker in 2016. The Reporter reports “Scorsese quietly left the comic book-based film, and his producing partner, Emma Tillinger Koskoff, took over Joker producing duties and rolled over most of the crew from (The) Irishman to work on Joker (De Niro also straddled both films).” So it seems likely that the above-mentioned “somebody” was full of it.

As we know, the movie that opened last weekend to major box office, mixed reviews, talk of the genre’s first lead actor Oscar, and a 68% Rotten Tomatoes score. It also riled up a lot of people who didn’t see it, and it gave additional employment to many officers of the law. Not a single incident of violence was certified opening weekend.

As many have pointed out, Joker seems like a reworking of Marty’s The King of Comedy, one of his best, in my opinion. De Niro appeared in both. I understand that the tone of Joker differs somewhat from that of, say, Avengers: Endgame, so maybe Scorsese’s theme park statement was not hypocritical or egotistical. I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt because he’s earned it.

But he did say he hadn’t seen these theme park movies and that they are void of “emotional, psychological experiences to another human being(s).” In this, he has passed judgment on 23 movies he did not see.

It’s too bad Marvel’s Hell’s Kitchen properties remain tied up with Netflix for the next couple years. I’d love to see Martin Scorsese’s Daredevil.

• • • • •

IF you happen to be anywhere near Baltimore Maryland this weekend – Friday October 18 through Sunday October 30 – drop by my favorite comic book convention, the Baltimore (go figure!) Comic-Con, at the Baltimore (go figure some more) Convention Center on Pratt near the harbor. Great show run by great people who’ve tolerated me there for many years. A lotta POP CULTURE SQUAD people will be in attendance – Bob Harrison, Adriane Nash, Evelyn Kriete, and I think Ed Catto (I’d check, but right now he’s at the Syracuse convention!). As usual, we’ll be warehousing ourselves at the mammoth Insight Studios pavilion that lurks among the real comics professionals. Stop by, say hello, talk with us, donate to the Hero Initiative, wrestle some crabs for dinner, check out where Edgar Allan Poe died, bet on when I fall down again, and generally have yourself a swell time!

One thought on “Brainiac On Banjo #056: “Wait Till They Get A Load Of…”

  1. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is the greatest American western ever made… & I generally find John Ford tedious…