Don’t be a hater.

Posted on by Jentham and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Seen this trailer? I can almost guarantee that anyone who likes this film has a Tolstoy novel on their shelf that they either haven’t read, or after the first 50 pages gave up when they couldn’t remember whether Karpovoloskaya was the doctor, the maid, or the corporal.

After watching the trailer, my trigger finger got sweaty in a quasi-erotic anticipation of destroying the market demo for talent shows. It feels good to hate. I love hating.

The reason we sympathize with Frank can be summed up in the old adage – my enemy’s enemy is my friend. But Frank is not your friend. You just think he is because the movie is shot from his perspective and he hates who you hate.

We see his kid’s paintings on the wall but when he’s watching tv he’s always sitting alone – which means his wife probably hates him, and left with the kids because he watches tv all night, and jacks off to porn in the basement.

He hates Chloe for hating her dad for not getting her an Escalade, but it looks like Frank really did ruin his daughter’s life by being a shit dad – and yet we somehow sympathise with Frank and think Chloe deserves to die, when, if anyone deserves it, it’s Frank.

Imagine this film the other way around – your daughter whose guilty act is watching X Factor, is shot in the head by a rampaging, lonely middle aged guy, who got his kids taken off him by his wife, is addicted to late night tv, drinks beer, drops pills, and teams up on a crime spree with a loner teenage girl who was never accepted by the cool kids. Ressentiment, much? Yep. And 20-to-life. 

Related posts:

  1. The Strange Ascendance of The Descendants
  2. The next phase in the evolution of action movies
  3. Did Kurt Russell Rape Goldie Hawn in Overboard?

36 Responses to Don’t be a hater.

  1. The hard question to ask yourself is, “were you yourself able to take what you’ve written and NOT hate the demo that likes Real Housewives, etc?” (and of course I’m not assuming anything about you personally, this is a rhetorical question.)

    Your last paragraph puts that into perspective. Yes, looked at from ones own personal perspective (my daughter is killed) we see the horror of it. But why is imagining yourself the father of a murdered daughter HARDER than imagining yourself as Frank-lite? Why is it easier to hate the demo that likes Real Housewives than it is to hate potential murderers?

    • gogo says:

      There is potential answer in the trailer: “Everybody want kill people who deserve to die.” And it is not true. In this case we don´t identify ourselves with murderers, but with potential victim, which is not killed – woman in theatre. The same case is Hannibal Lecter. What we like there, what is probably the whole film about – is acting deus ex machina, it´s kind of day of reckoning for atheists. Of course we don´t mind if god will kill our daughter, because we know he won´t.

      • gogo says:

        In book – Silence of the lambs – Lecter is psychopath, but in film he is god, which can see right in your soul and eats bad people.

      • gogo says:

        What else people, who like film, have on their shelf besides Tolstoy? They have there Dawkins and they had red it twice – to assure themselves how psychopathic and hatable God and Bible are. Anway, they love Dexter.

    • Cambyses says:

      I’ll answer this question with a question, or a few.

      What do you remember about the movie Halloween? The answer: Michael Meyers.
      What about Nightmare on Elmstreet? Freddie Krueger.
      And Friday the 13th? Jason Borheese (sp?).

      I can’t recall a single one of the people slaughtered in these films, except that Jamie Lee Curtis survives by getting older, doing cameos and finally fighting back. The Homeric / Karl Vossler answer to this question is we hate the viewers of Real Housewives because they are weak. Somewhere swimming in our limbic system is the id, and it has bottomless taste for blood and fucking. That’s one answer.

      Another is that we are not, in fact, bronze-age soldiers. If I were Harry Stack Sullivan, I’d probably argue that we remember the monsters and we ientify with them in order to illiminate anxiety, in order to, uh, associate ourselves with emblems of power and prestige and to feel secure. Only we aren’t aware that we are doing this, so we make little dopplegangers of ourselves (i.e. people watching “real housewives”) and destroy them as a proxy for our bottomless contempt for ourselves for this behavior. Vertiginous hall of mirrors (us watching him watching television…). Hence the scene with this guy having the gun at his head, then deciding to kill a teenager. They’re juxtaposed bycause, intrapsychically, they achieve the same goal. Only outside of our own private, egocentric equilibrium, there’s just a madman on the loose using strangers to even the score of his four decades of narcissistic injury.

      Either way, we always leave ourselves an out–this protagonist has a dirty t-shirt, is overweight, and like every everyman, has characteristics which visually allow us to distance ourselves from him at the end of the movie. We hold fast to our contempt. If hate, in whatever form, were not serving an intrapsychic purpose, any number of brightly colored text-books, national holidays celebrating acceptance, Dutch state initiatives to end racism and clumsy afterschool specials would have already eliminated it.

  2. TheCoconutChef says:

    Reading the wikipedia summary is much more disturbing than watching the trailer.

    The next day he locks Chloe in her car, and after a failed attempt to ignite her gas tank he kills her by shooting her at point blank range. Roxanne “Roxy” Harmon (Tara Lynne Barr) witnesses this and comes to the same realization as Frank that people have become stupid and need to die.
    [...]
    Roxy suggests they kill Chloe’s parents and he agrees. Frank shoots her father and after a brief chase, Roxy stabs her mother with a knife.
    [...]
    They then decide to go on the lam to continue their spree. They kill several patrons causing a ruckus in an empty movie theater, and they kill several others, from people who like to park in two spaces to zealous religious protestors who step on the rights of homosexuals and other religious and personal freedoms that America should stand for.

  3. RatB says:

    Poser’s wearing his “traditional values” hat in a theatre.

    Unless you’re heading up a police state, you can’t really instill decorum by murdering people. Terrorism will just make everyone louder and squirellier. It’s negative reinforcement on a sparse random schedule; no use to anyone, except to start wars. The victims will become more like their group stereotype as they go for security at the price of individualism.

    So the shooters are shitty people going about it all wrong. Encouraging people to be considerate and polite still isn’t an unworthy goal.

  4. bogart says:

    “and yet we somehow sympathise with Frank and think Chloe deserves to die, when, if anyone deserves it, it’s Frank”

    It’s not Frank’s fault – he has a massive brain tumor!!

  5. Or says:

    The main character hates everything you should hate, but the plot of the movie itself is drawn from all the movies he saw that turned his hate into rage. Would you have the guts to leave behind your safe, boring life and to show the world what is wrong with it and to do what nobody else can do because something is holding them back? Along the way, you’ll even meet a massacring pixie dream girl so you don’t have to doubt yourself! If only you had a brain tumor and therefore nothing to lose, you could go on a rampage and shoot a bunch of people all the same color as you and not fuck the massacring pixie dream girl because she’s way too young and it would be creepy and she was abused so it would be taking advantage of her — but the important thing is you’d know you could if you wanted because you would have finally transcended society’s boundaries, right? Right?

  6. JonnyVelocity says:

    It’s like Falling Down except a comedy?

    The real ethical decision (?) would have been for Bobcat Goldthwiat to have actually gone on a killing spree rather than make some B-movie about it.

    P.S. I watch Real Housewives and Keeping Up with the Kardashians. And not for some ‘I want to see how vacuously the other side lives’ reason either, and not ironically. I should shoot myself, right?

    • Phanatic says:

      I don’t think it’s so much “Falling Down as a comedy” as “Heathers” with a retarded man-child instead of J.D.

      That bit of self-awareness that D-FENs acquires towards the end of Falling Down? You know the bit:

      “Let’s go meet a couple of police officers, they’re all good guys.”

      “I’m the bad guy?”

      “Yeah.”

      “How did that happen?”

      I’m not sure that’s going to be in this movie. “You’re not a rebel, you’re a fucking psychotic.”

  7. Jentham says:

    The necessity of the pixie girl/accomplice is to give things the illusion of an internal critique. If it’s just a loser old guy killing people, it’s weird. If there is some Gen X (Y?Z?) representative, it validates him – “see he’s not crazy, the kids recognize it too!”.

    I kept out of the main post the reference to the movie theatre scene. It’s odd that they hate ‘fake’ celebrities, and yet when they’re in the movie theatre, she’s wearing a French beret, and he’s in a traditional values hat. Because they have no real identity from which to launch their crusade, they just try and borrow authenticity by incorporating a few cultural symbols (see Jay Z in the Italian restaurant for more on this), and become a giant fake parody. Basically… Frank becomes everything he hates in the process of hating it.

    I don’t hate People Who Watch Real Housewives. A long time ago I learned to live and let live. But I have lots of ‘cultured’ friends who do hate PWWRH, and I hate it when they roll their eyes at the shallow masses – snobs hate the masses only in order to re-assert their own cultural identity. They don’t know who they are. They stack their shelves with what they’ve been told is ‘high culture’, but it’s all pretend because they actually find Tolstoy boring, and Mozart? Forget it.

    So what’s left? They don’t know what they like, but they know what they don’t like, they know who they don’t like, and the story they tell about who they are is a story about who they’re not – and hating the masses is just an operation of that ego function.

    • Gabe Ruth says:

      This was a good clarification. I can’t hate PWWRH, because my wife is a member of that club. She’s ashamed of it, but it’s hard for her to stop.

      You’re missing one danger of that show, one that non-shallow people who watch (like my wife) are susceptible to: it encourages a tendency towards self-righteousness, to hating the poor, sad women on the show and thanking God we are not as they are. That is indeed a blessing, but what you don’t notice right away is the descending of the bar by which you measure yourself.

      I also think maybe you jump a little too quickly to condemn Frank. Odds are you are quite right about his general shittiness, but then again he’s an unusual person (one hopes). Maybe the Matrix bears most of the responsibility for what happened to his family, and his only error is mistaking some of the people that the Matrix uses as batteries for the Matrix itself, and thinking he can avenge the destruction of his life by killing them. He needed to read some TLP archives.

    • Elisabeth says:

      “It’s odd that they hate ‘fake’ celebrities, and yet when they’re in the movie theatre, she’s wearing a French beret, and he’s in a traditional values hat. Because they have no real identity from which to launch their crusade, they just try and borrow authenticity by incorporating a few cultural symbols…”

      And, if you look at the film as a whole, that’s what their entire crusade is about. You can take everything they do in the film, and find it done a million times before (and better) in the popular culture they claim to hate.

      Frankly, I wanted to slap them. To expand (very) slightly on what Gabe Ruth says, people who ostentatiously hate reality TV and reality TV fans *need* reality TV to feel good about themselves. It lowers the bar – they have all these fantasies about what they *could* do and be (what Alone refers to as “I *could* know Kung-Fu, if I had to” http://thelastpsychiatrist.com/2009/03/what_was_the_matrix.html) , but they haven’t achieved them. They can’t.

      They have a deep need to tell themselves that, hey, at least they’re not reality show fans/meaningless celebrities/people who talk in cinemas. And they have to believe that those mindless hordes are the majority of civilisation, because then they can believe that, for all their failures and ennui, at least they’re better than the vast bulk of people, simply because they themselves exist.

      They haven’t actually got off their backsides and done anything, but by sheer virtue of getting out of bed and not watching the Kardashians, and by giving Obama his rightful worship (funny how they weren’t concerned about “civility” and “decency” when Bush was being compared to Hitler) they are just…better.

      • CubaLibre says:

        I actually do get off my ass. I work every day at a profession I find personally fulfilling helping people that need help in the best way my skills will allow. I actually do love Tolstory. (Mozart, well – he’s certainly a preternatural genius, but his music’s overrated. I’m more of a Bach guy. [I also love Terminator 2 and Metallica. Whatever.]) I actually love it because I actually sought out a bunch of different things and found ones I loved, not because I was told to by some authority. I actually do all the things the TLPers accuse the Everyman of never actually doing.

        So; can I hate people who watch Real Housewives now?

    • King Eternity says:

      You’re missing the point entirely. Sure there are plenty of culture snobs as you describe. This film isn’t for them.

      I hate people who watch Real Housewives and Jersey Shore and daytime soap operas and CSI and Twilight and all the other sedative, pointless shit that’s around because they are everything that is wrong with the world and why it is falling apart.

      Frank isn’t punishing individuals for having bad taste, he is making the world a better place.

      • Elisabeth says:

        “…they are everything that is wrong with the world and why it is falling apart.”

        Seriously, in a world of murder, rape, genocide, imperialism, war, famine, disease etc., what’s wrong with the world is that some people like reality TV?

        Grow the fuck up, man. You’re proving the point I made – you can’t do anything to challenge what’s wrong with the world, because you are in fact deeply ordinary. So you channel your rage and impotence to the people who are also not challenging what’s wrong with the world. The only difference is that they do it in a different way.

        I find it intriguing that you’re angrier at these people (do you see them as standing by while the world burns or something?) than you are at everyone who actually has power and is using it to screw people over.

        • King Eternity says:

          Seriously, in a world of murder, rape, genocide, imperialism, war, famine, disease etc., what’s wrong with the world is that some people like reality TV?…
          The people who sit and watch and listen to whatever shit is shovelled to them by first world media are the same people who get swept up into tribal violence and religious extremism and imperialist militaries all over the world. They are unable or unwilling to understand their own motivations and actions and succumb to the brainwashing effect of media saturation. If a song is played at them 5 times a day they figure they must like it because it is always in their head. If they get told every day that black people are inferior to them, they take it as a fact because it never occurs to them to question it.

          …you can’t do anything to challenge what’s wrong with the world, because you are in fact deeply ordinary.
          You’re using ‘ordinary’ as an insult? How telling. I wish I was ordinary, in the true sense of the word. I wish I was the everyman, that people could say ‘that King Eternity really is an average Joe, just like everyone else.’. Because that would mean everyone else was educated (I’m not talking about schools), curious, questioning, analytical, self assessing, involved.

          I find it intriguing that you’re angrier at these people (do you see them as standing by while the world burns or something?) than you are at everyone who actually has power and is using it to screw people over.
          How did the people in power get into that position?

          You’re right in one thing, I am full of rage at my impotence. Because the world is controlled by stupid, wilfully ignorant people and there really is nothing I can do about that. I only have so many bullets.

          [In case some government agency is somehow reading this, I don't actually own a gun or any bullets and I have no intention of committing any violent physical acts.]

          • Elisabeth says:

            This is truly fascinating. You honestly think you’re better than what you perceive as the mass of humanity.

            Trust me, if you were really so incisive, intelligent, involved, educated etc., you wouldn’t be impotent. You wouldn’t be talking shit – anonymously – on the internet. There’s actually a place for the person you think you are in the real world.

            And please, tell me, (1) where the masses are that think that black people are inferior, (2) who’s telling them that and (3) how they’re wrong. (Hey, you’re so questioning, that shouldn’t be a problem, right?) It was a lovely little segue, though, from liking pop music to hating black people. Not jarring AT ALL.

            It takes a special kind of stuipid to assume that everyone else is scum because you can’t convince them you’re right. Maybe you’re wrong. Maybe you’re nowhere near as intelligent as you think you are.

            Maybe Teh Stooopid Mahsses realise that you hate them, and don’t want to give power to an impotent little manchild who would happily see them dead – but doesn’t have the balls to do it himself.

            Think on it.

          • King Eternity says:

            @Elisabeth:

            You honestly think you’re better than what you perceive as the mass of humanity.
            You’re the one who used ‘ordinary’ as an insult. Are you trying to kid yourself that you don’t think the same thing?

            Trust me, if you were really so incisive, intelligent, involved, educated etc., you wouldn’t be impotent… There’s actually a place for the person you think you are in the real world
            You say that there is that place, but you don’t say what it is? This is entirely my point. Despite the genius and compassion and drive of history’s greatest thinkers and doers, here we are, destroying the planet and each other at an ever increasing rate. If you have the answer please share it with the world.

            It takes a special kind of stuipid to assume that everyone else is scum because you can’t convince them you’re right
            It’s not a question of convincing people I’m right. I’m all for lively debate and I try to keep my mind open, and recognise when I’m wrong. My entire point is that they won’t even have the conversation. They don’t want to think, they just accept what is fed to them.

    • Or says:

      In Natural Born Killers, the title characters understand that their rampage is just meaningless violence and consider their own celebrity status ridiculous and play it for laughs, and kill the tabloid reporter who turned them into celebrities. So this is pretty much the same movie, but a step down on the scale of self-awareness.

      • Or says:

        (That was supposed to be a reply to Jentham’s comment.)

      • gogo says:

        Isn´t it exactly reason why Natural Born Killers was such bad movie as it was? Killers were so insane and real, that their killing haven´t any moral logic? They were exactly real as Breivik or any other school fighter. But this one seems to become “cult” movie, because killing there isn´t accidental at all.

  8. King Eternity says:

    So what’s left? They don’t know what they like, but they know what they don’t like, they know who they don’t like, and the story they tell about who they are is a story about who they’re not – and hating the masses is just an operation of that ego function.

    Your “‘cultured’ friends” must be real idiots. They don’t know what they like? Really? What the fuck is wrong with them?

    Is it not possible to hate the ignorant masses because they are vacant, self centred, willfully ignorant morons who directly make my life worse. These people are every car texting, pub fighting, bogan/redneck, bully, asshole, pieces of shit that I have to deal with every day. And you do to. And the fact that these shows are so popular is a direct demonstration that there are millions of these people, and society is molded to suit them. Doesn’t that make you angry?

    Also, isn’t your disdainful stance exactly the same as the people you criticise? ‘Oh, I can’t stand people who can’t stand people who like Reality TV.’.

    [Sorry for the double comment, I'm slipping these in while at work.]

    • Guy Fox says:

      I hate people who watch Real Housewives and Jersey Shore and daytime soap operas and CSI and Twilight and all the other sedative, pointless shit that’s around… Frank isn’t punishing individuals for having bad taste, he is making the world a better place. … Is it not possible to hate the ignorant masses because they are vacant, self centred, willfully ignorant morons who directly make my life worse.

      Whoa, dude, don’t lose your head. Here’s the thing: you don’t actually know any of these people. What you know is a) actual individuals pissing you off with inconvenient (for you) behaviour in various situations and b) the image of them presented/reflected-distorted in the media. In the first case, you have no idea what they’re like when they’re hanging out with their kids, when they haven’t just been diagnosed with hepatitis, when they haven’t just lost their job, when a friend calls them up in desperation, or any other situation when they aren’t gracing your wicket at the DMV/bank/tech support desk or wherever. In the second case, you’re hating an image of them that has been presented to you exactly so that you have that image to hate. The media is Pavlov, you’re the dog, and Wife Swap is the dinner bell. Stimulus-response, bro. Just as it’s sad for people to watch Wife Swap to get an ego boost because they don’t have anything else going on, it’s sad for you to watch the people you think are watching Wife Swap for the same reason; it’s just one level up the meta-ladder.

      As for killing them all to make the world a better place, that’s bull$hit. You want to make your world a better place, not theirs, not necessarily mine. Your wicket at the DMV/bank/tech support desk is what matters to you, not the world. If you wanted to infuse that hate with some righteousness, the way to go would be to say that you’d be killing them for their own benefit. Before you go that route, though, remember that, during the Spanish Inquisition, those accused of heresy would first be tortured then burned at the stake. The logic was that the public torture and the attendant humiliation was an act of penance, to purify the soul of sin, and then it would further be purified by burning. I.e. Got demons? Kill with fire! That’s the good and righteous way to go about what you’re proposing, and killing them off a la Frank for your own convenience is just wretched. You’re talkin’ some pretty big talk here, bud. If this is where it leads, do you really want to walk the walk?

      • King Eternity says:

        Refer to my response to Elisabeth for a clarification, this post was rushed while I was at work and not clearly explaining my position.

        I’m not sure why you assume that my hatred is of an image that has been presented to me. These are the people I interact with every day at work and on the street, not some construct of the media. I’m sure a lot of them are decent parents and loving partners and all the rest (just as I’m sure a lot of them most definitely aren’t) but I can’t not see how their ignorant opinions and actions extrapolate out into the big picture and contribute and create the real problems of the world.

        I’m not advocating real violence, I was explaining Frank’s perspective. And that’s the point of the movie, it’s a fantasy for those who see the world that way, who think the world would be a better place without those people.

        • thestage says:

          And that’s the point of the movie, it’s a fantasy for those who see the world that way, who think the world would be a better place without those people.

          so just like everything made for the people he’s killing, then. how quaint.

    • Jentham says:

      [[ All good. One must do what one must!]]

      My ‘cultured’ friends think they know what they like, but only because they’re told to like it. To a large degree this is unavoidable – you can’t watch everything, so you try to get advice from people whose taste you respect, or, and this is where it gets dangerous, you get advice about taste from the kind of person you think you’d like to be. Which is why people force themselves to watch Mad Men, but it’s boring as shit. And I’m pretty sure that’s how everyone started drinking beer.

      And no, I don’t think it’s possible to hate the ignorant masses. I think I partly understand why some people hate them, but it seems to me largely unjustified. You said the masses “directly make my life worse”, but that can only really be in the most trivial way. I think there’s a meme about ‘first world problems’ that is probably directly relevant here. The Masses, even though they consume banal shit, don’t really seem to be hurting anyone. I can’t get angry about because… what’s the alternative? When it comes to value, I’m a hedonist. Pleasure is the criterion of good, and “push pin is as good as poetry”. I don’t think at all that people who prefer ‘low culture’ pleasures are any less valuable. In fact, I couldn’t give a fuck what anyone enjoys because it has *zero effect on me*. Why get your knickers in a twist over it?

      And I get the point “doesn’t your claim apply to you too?” – but the difference is that the snob hates the yob in order to define himself over against the yob. I hate the snob because I am a snob and I hate hating. It’s a mode of self-critique.

      • Gabe Ruth says:

        Would you really say you hate the snobs? Even ones you call friends? It sounds like you find them mildly amusing, which is a better revenge than executing them.

        And I don’t know about beer in general, but it’s definitely how the hop flavored water known as lite beer became widely endorsed.

      • King Eternity says:

        See my response to Elisabeth as to why I most definitely do not agree that The Masses ‘don’t really seem to be hurting anyone.’.

        In fact, I couldn’t give a fuck what anyone enjoys because it has *zero effect on me*. Why get your knickers in a twist over it?
        I’m not saying ‘I hate you because you enjoy this’, but rather ‘I hate that we live in a society where this is popular, and you are the reason that society exists, and I hate you for it’.

  9. ExOttoyuhr says:

    Whiskey tango foxtrot? How long until we get Bowling for Columbine from the other guys’ perspective?

    I don’t particularly care for people who watch Desperate Housewives or Mad Men or Time Lapse Investigation either, but they don’t impact my life very much, you know?

    Well, as the reciprocal of the saying goes, “if you’re not watching it, it’s not for you.”

    (And the smart money doesn’t say “stupid people should die,” it says “society should be arranged so that smartness is more reproductively adaptive than stupidity.” That was the case in China for about two thousand years, and the results were pretty impressive.)

  10. bbrodriquez says:

    On the subject of hating PWWTRH etc – here’s a question that’s been rattling around in my mind for a while: OK, everything these days is carefully marketed, right? So, go watch a trailer for a movie that’s aimed at someone “not you”, ie, if you’re a single man-boy, watch a trailer for a rom-com, if your’e a 40-something woman, watch a trailer for something aimed at teenage boys. If you’re a linux fanatic, pop into an apple store, etc.

    Why is it, that most of us, when exposed to something marketed at a different demographic, have the reaction of disgust, anger, or feeling personally insulted?

    I guess this should’ve been like, a submission for partial objects, but anybody got any thoughts on this?

Leave a Reply