[Click Here to read Part 2]
Worst Movie Ever
I “liked” the Spring Breakers official Facebook page early on, when there was no real action on it and the project was still in production. That’s partially why I was so surprised to see it pushing toward a half-million “fans,” the opening week. Of course, the film wasn’t out quite yet and a lot of the comments on the page hovered around such serious territory as debates regarding which of the starring actresses had the “best hair.” Over the week following its national release, a good 80% or more of the comments turned toward claims that Spring Breakers is the “Worst movie ever,” how it’s a “waste of money,” and/or about how the person complaining has lost hours of their life that they will “never get back.” Also in the mix are intentional spoilers, left out of spite, and judgmental comments about how the girls are “trashy” “sluts” that have let down their poor underage Disney girl fanbases. Some of the latter even encourage the actresses to turn to Jesus.
If you go to the film’s official IMDB page, it gets even better. As I type this (not post, but type), there are approximately 100 reviews left by users. While the tides are beginning to slowly turn, the overwhelming majority consist of negative –several of them 1 star (out of 10)– reviews. People really fucking hate this movie. To give you an accurate representation of what I’m referring to, here are a few of the titles to those reviews that are accompanied with 1 Star ratings:
- Harmony Korine scams people BIG this time
- Felt like I was in the Twilight Zone [not sure how that one is negative, but it’s not my review]
- The trashy daydream of a horny schoolgirl [full disclosure: this one actually gave it 2 stars]
- “Natural Born Killers” wannabe
- Unbelievable [this one begins with, “This is the worst movie I have ever watched on the big screen“]
- Complete waste of money
- They should have paid ME to see it
- A pitiful waste of Film stock
- The worst movie I’ve ever seen, and I’ve watched The Room
- Pathetic Garbage
- Don’t waste your time or money
- Trash movie
- If i could give it a 0 i would
- Worst movie forever!
- No just no
- Annoying From Start to Finish
- Bad movie
- Worst Movie Ever
- Why does this movie exist?
- Boring Turd from Former Film-maker Harmony Korine
- worst 94 minutes of my poor life, DO NOT WATCH UNDER ANY SURCAMSTENCES. [This particular review is amazing. It’s written by a 13 yr old that went to see it with her Mom and 8 year old sister.]
So… you get the idea. And those weren’t carefully selected by me, or anything; I simply yanked those review titles in the order that they are currently posted on IMDB. It must have really struck a chord with people for them to be so obsessed with the idea of trying to desperately warn the masses to protect themselves from its wrath. It’s just a fucking movie folks, it isn’t Bird Flu, Swine Flu, African killer bees, or SARS. In fact, they should probably just have a rating system of 1 – 5 SARS, so that people know just how potentially detrimental a film is to their communities and, of course, to our greatest resource… the children.
Another gem of a review, which was simply titled, “Really??,” wasn’t going to be sucked into adhering to a rating system — there were no stars listed, just a scathing review directed at the reprehensible heathens who allowed this type of filth to infiltrate our society, where it could freely poison young impressionable minds. Posted by the account bcaulford, it is literally the only one of the user’s reviews, out of 12 total, that doesn’t involve fawning over a motion picture released between the years of 1933 to 1945. [He did, however, point out that the special effects in King Kong (1933) were “noticeable.”] Again, it’s nowhere near as good as the one written by the 13 year old who saw it with her mom and 8 year old sister, but I’ll just post it here anyway.
“So is this really what we need? a million shootings going on across the U.S and this dumb movie comes out about girls who turn into criminals just to have a great spring break? Oh yeah this isn’t going to inspire kids to be reckless and out of control just to get what they want and have fun. Since when did we live in a nation where idiots like this can come with such a stupid idea and call it genius? Are we really that dumb to actually find this crap entertaining? I completely blame Hollywood for all the crazies out there because their new technology for filming is actually so good that it makes people feel a part of the movie and now because of this you now have people actually wanting to reenact it. How irresponsible are we? How low of an I.Q do we really have to not take common sense or morals into perspective? This is such a waste of time and money and I’m appalled to think that there will be millions wasting their hard earned money just to watch some stupid crap like this and eventually cause someone to lose their mind and start shooting up places just because they can. I mean really people come on.”
Although I still have my doubts that this guy has even seen the film, there are a couple of things that get me about this “review” in particular. The first is the part where it says, “their new technology for filming is actually so good that it makes people feel a part of the movie.” As you can see, taken out of context, this is a clear endorsement for Spring Breakers, which actually did manage to make me feel like I was part of the movie, although, primarily, through editing and stylistic choices and without the reliance on CGI, or whatever the fuck else this guy is blathering on about (I, quite honestly, don’t believe that he even saw the movie). The other reason that this complaint seems a bit off is because of how much this joker was whining in his King Kong review about how a movie that was released a full 80 years ago, didn’t have the greatest special effects and that it, subsequently, caused him to disconnect from it at times. The second quote in this review that stands out to me is one that, more or less, sinks his entire argument: “How low of an I.Q do we really have to not take common sense or morals into perspective?” Exactly.
But I get it, that window beginning with the Great Depression recovery era and ending with WWII is the cinematic sweet spot. I mean, a good talkie is aces, but anything that was released after 1945 isn’t worth dropping a sawbuck on. Prior to that, horrendous imagery wasn’t hitting the screens and motivating legions of goons to commit abhorrent atrocities –everything was eggs in coffee. The world was better off and more peaceful back then, when we didn’t have to worry about some whacky packing heat, using the old Chicago typewriter to fill some joe with daylight and sending him off in a meat wagon. Where were all of the school shootings in the 1930s and 40s, without cinemas influence? How about mass murders? The picture shows of today are all wet.
Of course, I’m getting away from the point that I truly want to make, and those type of reviews are simply, the incredibly generic ones that are to be expected from hardheaded, conservative jerk-offs like Elizabeth Hasselbeck, who chose to attack the film on The View, while admitting that she’s never actually seen any of it. Those “views” arent even worth paying attention to, because those people were never going to see a movie about spring break, or a film from Harmony Korine anyway and are making assumptions based on personal taste. The really fascinating and entertaining reactions come from the rest of the reviews on IMDB and the ones that are flooding the Facebook page, because most of those are coming from people that, on some level, might actually be drawn into checking out Spring Breakers, but would ultimately be disappointed, once they did. These aren’t the obvious angry reviewers, like that last guy, who detests anything young and untethered in the first place, but they are definitely the ones that would never be interested in seeing a Harmony Korine film like Gummo or Julien Donkeyboy. Being someone that attended the film strictly based on my affinity for and trust in Korine‘s work, it didn’t even occur to me, at first, that certain types of people were going to misinterpret its advertising in really specific ways. Although the film exceeded my expectations on every possible level, I still went into the theater with a fairly clear sense of what I was opening myself up for. I definitely wasn’t going in believing that it was going to be a dramatized version of Girls Gone Wild.
Below is a breakdown of why I believe particular groups of people really aren’t responding to this film too positively. I made sure to separate each of them by using the most generic, stereotypical, and lazy categorizations that I could come up with, because I just didn’t care enough to put any more effort into it than that. Of course, they are only examples of 5 extremes and there are multiple variations, in-betweens, and composites with overlapping aspects. It’s generally better to avoid defined, restrictive categorizations, but I can’t help but feel that the central reason that many people are rejecting this film, or refusing to acknowledge it’s merit, is due to their own rigid interpretations about what does and does not matter, what is and is not good, and how things should or should not be done. So, without further adieu, here are a few reasons that I could see the open ended narrative and disorienting approach of Spring Breakers agitating specific personality types that actually attended a screening…
The Frat Boy / The Party Kid
Believe it or not, it didn’t even occur to me that there was a group of people that expected Spring Breakers to be a wild, goofy comedy, about over the top party kids, in the vein of Project X and 21 and Over. I only really put that together once I began reading comments that were warning others that it was, specifically, not like those 2 films, in particular, and that people would be better off seeing them instead. I didn’t even know that there was a film called Project X with the slogan “The party you’ve only dreamed about,” but I knew that they probably weren’t referring to the 1987 Matthew Broderick/Helen Hunt vehicle about the lab monkey. If anything, I assumed that the guns in the trailer would have been a tip off to the fact that it was a different kind of film. Then again, there were guns in Superbad. Spring Breakers is absolutely nothing like Superbad and some folks were clearly less than pleased about that discovery.
The Creepy Pervert
As much as the religious right and the wholesome soccer moms want to paint this film to be nothing more than an opportunity to exploit young actresses that are willing to flash the vag for an opportunity to prove they are big girls now, this film is not Showgirls. For the people that were betting on seeing Selena Gomez‘s “waverly place” there was a huge disappointment that it wasn’t pornographic ENOUGH. And, when it was, the famous 3 were not the ones that were generally getting the most nekkid. “I could jack off to soft porn extras in the comfort of my own studio apartment.” Of course, the frat boys were also disappointed by the lack of Disney girl nudity. The creep factor was high for this one, but the disappointment was higher.
The Teeny Bopper
Selena Gomez has over 4 million fans on Facebook. That’s a lot of young adults to potentially mislead. On March 23rd, the very next day after Spring Breakers‘ nationwide release, Gomez even took home a Nickelodeon Kid Choice Award. The majority of her fans are still pretty youthful, if not in age, then in their mindsets. They weren’t expecting anything this emotionally confusing.
The Weekend Movie Critic
Plenty of professional movie critics have actually responded incredibly well to this film. After seeing the same rehashed bullshit over and over again, this has got to be a breath of fresh air for them. It’s the people that like the rehashed shit over and over again, actually believe that Ron Howard is a cutting edge director who is bravely tackling difficult subject matter, and feel that a clown like Russell Crowe is at the pinnacle of his craft, that have the issues. Argo they can do, but what the fuck is this directionless trash? They want to be spoon fed the narrative, so that they know when something deep or important is happening. Spring Breakers makes them fend for themselves, so their only conclusion is that it’s “about nothing” and “pointless.”
The Artsy Cynic
These people seem to be somewhat into the film and enjoying how it’s making a statement about the degradation of our current society. The problem is that they have suggestions on how it could have been “better” and “more effective.” The even bigger problem is that it wasn’t necessarily even constructed with the agenda which they believe it’s failing to fully realize. I, on the other hand, believe that this movie is absolutely perfect. [I mean that, too. If you need to pull a quote out of this review, you can have this one: “Harmony Korine has made a perfect film.”] Based on what I believe his intentions were, Korine couldn’t have been more successful in delivering his vision. The movie isn’t overly focused on making whatever pretentious social commentary they believe that it is trying to, or should be. So, in their minds, it falls short and, in turn, isn’t as “successful” as it could have been. The fact that, at times, it actually feels like a celebration of that reckless party culture which they feel it is supposed to be lampooning, definitely doesn’t help their perception either.
For the most part, the majority of the backlash has been both absurd and entertaining, except for select attacks made by certain critics involving implications of racism in the film and incredibly straight forward accusations that it is promoting rape culture. Some people react to material that they dislike and/or don’t connect with, by going for the jugular, with accusations that are, arguably, just as detestable to make. If anything has concerned me regarding negative effects on today’s youth, however, it didn’t stem from any content within Spring Breakers, but rather from reading the comments being made by the youth insulting and in reaction to the film. Along with demonstrating a complete rejection of literacy and coherence, the most disheartening aspects lie in their need to immediately run out and “tell on” a filmmaker, and their complete lack of open-mindedness to anything that isn’t targeted to their limited interests. Some of my favorite comments might be the ones feigning concern about a lack of story line only to be followed by revealing statements like, “and they don’t even really get naked,” “Selena doesn’t even show anything,” and “all you see is a side boob for a minute and then you see his ass more than anything!” But… umm… there is… it’s a bad influence (?).. or, it’s just dumb and not good, or whatever (?). It’s a beautiful byproduct that these kids were “duped,” but only because they duped themselves with their own assumptions and expectations. “I was tricked! This movie was misleading bullshit!” It’s a reflection of their lack of responsibility and of taking ownership. At least the females characters in the film weren’t blaming anyone else for the results of their own decision making.
It was certainly surprising, but I love that Spring Breakers has actually been making its way out to the suburbs and getting so much mainstream attention. I just wish that there had been such accessibility for Korine‘s last film, Trash Humpers. I would have loved to have been able to read all of the various reactions to what was, essentially, just 90 minutes of grainy VHS footage of Harmony and Rachel dressed in elderly makeup, while smashing bottles, fucking shit up, pouring dish liquid on pancakes, and, literally, humping garbage cans. [What do you know? I enjoyed that one too.] During the Seattle Q&A that we filmed/posted for Trash Humpers back in 2010 [watch that HERE], Harmony was asked about future film projects and responded by saying the following:
“I really plan on making a great comedy. Something that’s like a crossover hit… Just trying to appeal to the Miley Cyrus tween set.”
He also seemed really obsessed with the idea of Miami Vice at the time –especially, the Jamie Foxx version. Of course, everyone took it as a joke but, if Spring Breakers was, in fact, what he was referring to–and it’s beyond likely that it was–then he actually somewhat managed to pull it off. At least the advertising appeals to that demographic; before it all turns south, of course. And the fact that this movie continues to thrive through so many widespread comments and reactions, both online and out in the “real” world, only adds to the energy and allows the endless reactions to bleed out and become a true extension of a much larger project. Spring Breakers doesn’t just transcend the screen, but the theater itself, continuing to feed and get stronger. Not only does the film break through structural boundaries in cinema, but this is a project bigger than just a film; there’s even an official, overpriced clothing line, reflecting that lavish fashion party lifestyle. This has become a worldwide performance piece where the audience are the unwitting participants. There’s just something that I really love about the idea of this unsuspecting dose of uncut raw emotion oozing out into little communities through theaters and Westfield shopping centers all over the country, like a salmonella ice cream truck rolling past children playing stick ball in a Norman Rockwell painting. There’s just something… incredibly magical about it. Knowing that the same man that created the bleak, cat murder and down’s syndrome-prostitute-featuring, Gummo, was having his latest work screening at South Center Mall in Tukwila, Wa –the very same shopping center that kids from my high school would go to; that, in recent years, has become an gaudy multi-level complex; where Britney Spears once made a mall appearance, and Avril Lavigne performed in the rear parking lot to kids who got promotional mini-CDs of her music attached to their SBARRO fountain drink lids– really drove this whole beautiful reality home for me.
“Security to the food court; it appears that some hooligan has slipped gel tabs into the bubble tea.“