Last time I implored us to all be part of the solution by supporting feminist-friendly films. On the flip side, today I implore us to protest films that are part of the problem. There are several ways to accomplish this easy but essential mission. The simplest way to undermine a film unworthy of success is to ignore it. Do not pay to go see it, do not review it, do not stream it, do not talk about it. Do not show any interest whatsoever. If it shrivels up and blows away, we can rest assured studio execs will be less likely to repeat that mistake.
Of course sometimes we discover a film’s unworthiness after we’ve already paid for our ticket. In this case, you have a unique opportunity to make a bigger statement. If you determine within the first 20 minutes of a film that it’s not worthy of your time and money, most theaters will refund the price of your ticket. Best of all, there’s a wee bit of paperwork to fill out where you get to provide your explanation as to why you walked out. This is a fabulous form of activism because you are saying to the powers-that-be, “Hey, lookie here, your fancy PR campaign enticed me to come out to an actual theater and lay down my hard earned cash, but for (this reason) and (that reason) your movie failed, so do better next time before I give up on you completely.” If enough of us this that on a regular basis, I can’t help but think it would make a difference.
That said, I personally have a hard time doing this at independently run theaters that show indie and arthouse fare because I like to support both the theaters and the films, but when it comes to studio films at a major Cineplex, give em’ hell. We deserve better dammit.
Inevitably, there will still be that pesky film you’re tempted to walk out on, but for some reason or other you stick around, convinced it will get better, only to learn, too late, it does not (cough, Manchester by the Sea, cough). In such cases, you cannot get your money back, but you can still make your voice heard. Rate it poorly on Netflix, Amazon and IMDB. Better still, post a thoughtful review (i.e. not merely lambasting it in angry language.) Offer a calm, well-supported argument (ideally with impeccable spelling and grammar), and cite specific examples as to why it was problematic for you. For inspiration, I recommend Roxane Gay’s, inspired piece on her reason for refusing to watch the reboot of ROSEANNE (HERE).
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