Monday, January 26, 2009

You Gotta Give Em Hope Time

Bless Awards Daily for looking at a uniquely embarrassing problem over @ the IMDb. They posted a chart of the fall Gus Van Sant's Milk took from the small but dedicated group of homophobes who troll mainstream web destinations.

Note the immediate drop in ranking, as soon as the film is
nominated for Best Picture on January 22nd

Apparently this same form of sabotage happened to Brokeback Mountain in its year post nomination day. Anti-gay feelings are still the most accepted and enduring kind of prejudice in America endorsed as they are by many politicians, funded and spread by some religions (they're still working on that "love one another" thing. Admittedly, it's a toughie) and embedded in our common vernacular, so it's not surprising to see this pattern reflected in popular entertainment polling. Though something about seeing it in chart form still packs a punch. I love IMDb for research purposes, and I'm enjoying being a news desk partner but I don't follow the top 250 charts as some sites do because
  1. It's obvious that there's too much tampering by people with agendas
  2. You don't have to see a movie to vote on it -- same problem with all awards bodies ;)
  3. You can actively vote AGAINST something. That's no way to do awards or "favorites" lists. I suspect this is also what happened to Bruce Springsteen's nomination for The Wrestler. Get enough people in the room with something against a particular nomination happening and it's easy to sabotage. The Original Song category uses a 1-10 point system like the IMDb's and if enough people score something really low to weigh the averages down (you need an 8.25 or higher to qualify for a nomination), sabotage accomplished.
  4. It's so slanted to whatever is out now that it's useless for any sort of real snapshot of What People Love. It's more like "What People Are Obsessed With Right This Second Even If They Haven't Seen It" but that's less catchy than "Top 250".
Milk is currently # 223 on the IMDb chart. Brokeback Mountain, inarguably one
of the most passionately loved movies of the Aughts, is not in the top #250.

I suppose it could be worse. Had Milk won Best Ensemble last night (as it definitely should have given the films nominated) you'd probably have even more haters coming out of the woodwork and before long the movie could be in Razzie territory, average vote wise.

But, let's take a cue from the great man honored by Van Sant's film and be optimistic. "You gotta give em hope" One day in the distant future the majority of the populace will want to live in a Post Homophobe world. Notice the widespread jubilation at the mere idea/fantasy/hope that we're entering a Post Racist world. It'll just take more time, that's all.
"The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice."
-Abolitionist Theodore Parker, c. 1850's


Anonymous said...

As your most loyal LDS reader, I feel insulted about your commentary on how Mormons "funded" this kind of prejudice.

I'll give it that Mormons may endorse and spread those prejudices, but to say they "funded" them, it's just plain OFFENSIVE.


my apologies (sincerely)

I need to let that go (i changed the post). It's just as a former Mormon myself that whole ordeal felt personal.

I'll try not to mention it again. I'll take Obama's tack: time to move on.

Anonymous said...

so I'm with you on the prejudice sucks thing, but WTF does that chart actually show...?


on January 22nd... (that's the day of Oscar nominations) watch that radical fall of MILK.

Brokeback had the same drop. It's people being made aware of the film and then attacking due to subject matter. How else to explain a sudden influx of "1" votes on a 1 (awful) to 10 (excellent) scale?

Anonymous said...

So sad.

Anonymous said...

It's too bad Milk will be pushed out of the chart because of that, but what I'm more worried about is simpleness like Gran Torino sky-rocketing on that chart.

Seriously, how the fuck can anyone in their right minds think that film belongs anywhere near the top 250 (and worse, of course, top 100) of best films ever.

I mean, the list is pretty screwed as it is, in terms of what film stand where, but most deserve to be on there (agreed on Milk and Brokeback)

Gran torino does not.

*Angry mode off

The Pretentious Know it All said...

Subject matter not being a conclusive qualifier, I just wish that singular motion picture achievements would be honored at the Oscars. "Brokeback" should have won. "Milk" is getting this ridiculous backlash--I was surprised that I didn't notice before how conservative a lot of the fanbase for "The Dark Knight" is. Strange and not so strange when you really start to consider it.

I just hate hearing " 'Milk' wouldn't be getting so much attention if it weren't gay. 'Brokeback' would have never gotten so much attention if it weren't gay. You wouldn't like these films if they weren't gay."
I've heard all these things. So many issues to address. Firstly, take out the gay element to both of these films and there is no film in either case. One is about two men in love in a world that won't accept them and the other is based on a true story. Second, I'm not all about championing gay films, paying no attention to quality. "Another Gay Sequel" made me want to throw up. I didn't care for "Philadelphia" and that "Prayers for Bobby" tv movie was laughably bad (sorry Sigourney). Not that there's anything wrong with having a soft spot for films that put gay characters front and center, the same way Christians champion films like "Passion of the Christ" and blacks champion films like "The Great Debaters." But if this last election/the general climate of this country has taught us anything, it's that gays are not really entitled to the same rights as everyone else.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for changing the post, Nathe.

And I'll endorse the Obama's tack. All the way.


Anonymous said...

Different agenda, but it's also very noticeable how "The Reader" suddenly has LOADS of "1" votes. Those TDK fanboys really need to let it go...

ZiZo said...

You know, gay movies are powerful now, they'll do as much as they can to stop that.

Anonymous said...

If films like Milk or BBM isn't able to make some people see homosexuals in a different way, I don't know what will.

Cinesnatch said...

Does anyone remember if Brokeback ever started out in the 250? It seems like it has always hovered around 7.8/7.9, which is odd, because MOST films debut high and then gradually fall over time.


vinci --well i don't know that for sure but the article in awards daily said that it did

Andy Scott said...

The fact that 'Milk' received 8 nominations is enough to keep me happy, even when stuff like this happens.

RahulB said...

I remember initially, following Venice and in its opening release, Brokeback was in the high 100s, low 200s. But of course, it got massacred by idiots on IMDb.

The same issue occurs on all films with a predominantly African-American cast...most of those scores are in the low 3's to low 4's - pretty despicable.

But, what I find most troubling, of the five nominated films for Best Picture, typically, the highest IMDb rating (highest rank on the Top 250) wins the Oscar.

Anonymous said...

Just because many people love a movie passionately doesn't make a film great. I saw "Brokeback Mountain" and thought it was somewhat boring. And, I didn't like Heath Ledger's character Ennis because he was abusive to his wife. Yes, the character suffered because of society's bigotry but he took out his frustrations on her.

Anonymous said...

Let's just all agree that the Top 250 is a joke. A 1/5 of the films are from the 2000s. Seriously?

ZiZo said...

I dont think neither Milk or Brokeback Mountain try to make people see homosexuals in a different way, I think the best thing for that would be watching "Six Feet Under".

Anonymous said...

IMDB is the absolute worst! If you ever want to find the most bigoted people just look for comments that are anonymous on the internet. I know that people say the worst things about minority groups on that site. I know this doesn't compare to the homophobia and Milk but if you look at the comments and rating they gave to Sex and The City: The Movie and Twilight, if you look how The Dark Knight fans are attacking The Reader making horrible comments towards Winslet and Daldry and the comments toward Jennifer Hudson (like Fat Black Bitch which I saw on the awardsdaily forums) it's really disturbing.

Unfortunately, Gays will have a tough battle towards equal rights because religion plays a huge factor in the fight. I'm Catholic but I largely disagree with the way the church views homosexuals. People claim that hollywood is so liberal but how many openly gay actors are there? I can only think of Sir Ian McKellen.

TKNKIA- Blacks don't champion movies like "The Great Debators" otherwise it would've made more money. That's the only kinds of films hollywood is making other that Tyler Perry and trash like "Who's Your Caddy?" For once (as a 20yo black woman) I would like to see a film about two black people who just happen to be black and not "A Black Film". Which is one of the reasons why I loved "Rachel Getting Married"

Anonymous said...

Two people who happen to be black*

Anonymous said...

My first reaction to this post was strange, I even surprised myself by thinking "Yes, but thats the way it is. Don't act surprised, deal with it."

Thats a ridiculous state of a affairs when I shrug off prejudice and unprovoked hate agasint myself and others...

Cinesnatch said...

I actually read a review by a respected film critic who said that Demme deliberately put two inter-racial couples in the film to make a point (as in, he had an "agenda").

Huh? Some people just don't get it. Well, a lot.

Michael Parsons said...

That has got to be one of the most disgusting things I have heard of.
Petty petty people.
The gays/friendlies should counter attack!
Attack action movies now!!

Anonymous said...

Despite my feelings on homosexuality, this is simply horriffic to see. It's a sad day for humanity when people take that "Love thy neighbor" thing and think it doesn't apply to people who are different.

Anonymous said...

Forgive the people over at the IMDb. They know not what they do.


Jesus. i am SO honored that you stopped by the blog. Please do something about your "followers". Please and thanks.

Amy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Vinci...who!?! I want to read it!

Anonymous said...

Folks -

Back when "Crash" was showing its 'cocktail party' popularity, especially among the acting branch, I said that it had a real shot to beat "Brokeback Mountain". Turned out I was right, though I would give it all back for all the hurt the win caused. I mention it here because, as I understand it, voters do not yet actually have ballots in hand (they get mailed tomorrow do they not?) This time I base my hunch on nothing more than a gut feeling, though with the history of psychics in my family, I have come to trust my gut when it is sending signals this strong.

To the point..."Milk" is going to win Best Picture. I kid you not.

The voters are going to (please, Maker) all have seen the movie and will vote their ballots themselves and not give them to their gardeners. If this happens, then I cannot believe they will vote for a movie with no 'there' there. IMDb rankings nothwithstanding, my hunch is that "Slumdog Millionaire" is ripe for an Academy backlash against being told it is the greatest thing since the dawn of creation when it is...well, not. As the most artistically accomplished of the remaining nominees, "Milk" becomes the choice almost by default. "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" has support an inch deep across the technicals and does not inspire any passion in the artistic branches. "Frost/Nixon" is seen (correctly) as a theatrically released TV movie with shockingly little insight into the people and era it attempts to portray. "The Reader" actually has a chance to surprise, but just how emphatic is the support for Kate and the screenplay? It doesn't seem to have the reach across the technical branches to score here, in spite of the stunning 5 nominations.

But mostly, this is a gut hunch. Take it for what it is worth but, as Harvey and the bloggers have noted, you gotta give them hope.

Anonymous said...

There is no excuse for prejudice in this day and age, but there are still some screwed up people out there, so I have no doubt you're right about the reason behind the 1 votes. It's the cost of freedom of expression. We all have our "prejudices"; some are more misanthropic than others and need to be discouraged at every turn. (Also, it really defeats the purpose of the poll for some people to downgrade a film they haven't really seen. If you don't like the subject matter, don't see the film and don't rate it. Of course, fairness is probably not those people's strong suit.)

On the other hand, you'd probably agree that there are a lot of people out there who rate films highly to push an agenda, and this is no less true with "Milk". Perhaps part of the reason for the dropoff is that a lot of people who wanted to make sure "Milk" was on the nominee list gave it high IMDb votes because of its agenda, not because they thought it was one of the five best films this year, and then didn't feel the need to vote once it was nominated.

I can't say that I blame those who are doing that, because, to many, especially those with a more personal stake in its message, a film like that has importance beyond its artistic merit. To many, the message is more important than any other aspect of the film, and justifies rating it as one of the "best" movies of the year, or perhaps any year. By the same token, I can't blame those who do not have as personal an interest in that message or agenda for not rating it as highly if they didn't feel the merits of the movie itself justified a 9 or 10.

Even if all agendas are not equal, the "voting an agenda" idea extends to other movies as well. I'm sure many have voted "The Dark Knight" so high becasue they want to see a genre or superhero movie get a BP nod, or maybe want to see Heath Ledger's last movie be so honored. There may be some who voted "Slumdog Millionaire" high because they want a movie about India to get BP, to have that part of the world given more recognition, especially considering that India may well be the movie "capital" of the world based on the sheer volume of movies made and released there.

I could go on, but you get the idea. Remember that this rating thing is mostly subjective. Just because someone thinks "Milk" sucks doesn't mean it does, anymore than because someone thinks it's one of the Top 250 films ever means it really is.

Film Knower said...

The Dark Knight is in the top five. I wouldn't take any notice of the list.

Saltire Flower said...

Ugh. IMDB can be a sickening place sometimes. It's a place where racist, homophobic, sexist teenage boys gather to spread their bigotry.

It's a place where people write the rudest things on a celebrity's board if the celebrity has just passed away.

I remember when Brokeback Mountain came out and after a while I couldn't even be bothered to read the comments people left. I was truly disgusted and saddened by the homophobic rants I read. IMDB really is just a cesspool.

Anonymous said...

I hope, as a new generation of Christians (myself included) arise, we will take clearly Jesus' most fundamental teaching: to love one another. Nothing else matters. I hope you can forgive us for the way we've blantantly ignored this teaching.

DBrooks17 said...

I agree this is inexcusable. It's the same as when one goes into a bookstore and sees tables and displays filled with the latest "Progressive" releases, and, when one asks where to find a recent Conservative book, you get that "look." These ridiculous displays of prejudice occur everywhere, and are really quite pathetic.

Marissa Skudlarek said...

This kind of problem is actually the reason I first signed up for an IMDB account 3 years ago. I had seen a preview screening of "Brokeback Mountain," loved it, and decided that it was my moral responsibility to join the IMDB and give "Brokeback" a well-deserved 10-star rating in order to counteract all the homophobes who were giving it a 1-star rating without even having seen it.

In an odd way I still feel like it's my moral responsibility to vote for movies at the IMDB. Because something like 75% of their users are male, I feel that, as a woman, I should help improve the gender balance a little :-)


go get em Marissa!

RC said...

interesting thoughts...the imdb top 250 is always so interesting to me...especially because it captures so many films with cult followings or popular niche that broader-spectrum films rarely fall on the list.

Anonymous said...

It looks like a big drop, but how big of a dip is it really from 170 to 230 on the top 250? Maybe a couple tenths of a point? We'll see, maybe it'll come back.

I think I've said this before, but I have no problem with Milk being well outside of the Top 250. I didn't like it. Just another incredible, bright and shiny life dredged down into biopic formula monotony. Paging Ray Charles...

Anonymous said...

It's funny reading the post here you can see the baggage.

For instance, why should it matter what people think of the film personally when someone is telling you that the reason for the scoring was not their feelings about biopics, but that the film was about a bunch of "homos."

So, what does personal feelings about the film matter when that's not their reason for down rating the film.

I love the internet. I really do. It's a great form of communication. but in many ways it has emphasized "I think" or "I hear what you are saying."

As for the film itself, I thought it was good, but not great. But, someone down rating it because it was about gay people is not someone with whom I am even going to agree with even for the purpose of saying "see, others agree" when in fact they do not agree. They don't dislike the movie for the sake of the movie itself.

That's a shame. I am actually a black gay guy. If I took the attitude that most white straight middle class males in America did, then I should have hated Borat, 40 Year Old Virgin and One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest. I should have hated a lot of things, but I did not because ultimately i love movies.

I do not watching a movie with so-much baggage. That is assuming they even saw it. Maybe that's giving them the benefit of the doubt they do not deserve. Movies are beautiful because they let you see worlds you do not otherwise see.

On some level, I feel sorry for them that they do not see the beautfy in having the opportunity. It's like they just want to see fun house mirrors of their own lives over and over again. That's sad.

Chris Na Taraja said...

Wow, the Mormans can't take credit for all the homophobia in the world. Actually all the Patriarchal religions are sexist and therefore homophobic.

Sorry if your jewish, christian or muslim, but you're part of a system that attacks and spreads hatred and lies about gay people. Gay people have been killed by your people in the name of your loving gods so, to you I say, "SUCK IT UP!"

I'm sorry you're offended, but TOO BAD! You will just have to put up with offenses.

Queer people have put up with your offensive religions for years. History has shown that before the patriarchal religions, queer people have been the spiritual leaders, priests and shamans for people all over the world. I would say that most religions are still lead by queer people. Now they are just closeted and hateful nazis fueled by the hatred of patriarchal dogma.

Ok, Nat may be taking the road of tact. I respect that, but I am not going to be Obama. I am going to be Harvey Milk. And I say, "I KNOW YOU'RE ANGRY. I'M ANGRY!!!"

As for Milk and Brokeback having attention only because they are gay. Maybe they wouldn't be as big, controversial or important, but both directors, Ang Lee and Gus Van Sant, have other films that got lot's of attention.

I grew up in a christian tradition, and I clearly remember being told to boycott movies. People are lead to have strong opinions about movies that they hadn't even seen.

I remember one of the biggest rages happening with THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST. 10 years later, my mom freaked out when I brought a copy of the film into the house. I had to teach her...YOU CAN'T HAVE AN OPINION ABOUT A MOVIE THAT YOU HAVEN'T SEEN. WAKE UP!!!!

Homophobia IS "funded" by patriarchal religions. If you give money to people who spread hate, then clearly, YOU ARE FUNDING THAT HATE!

Sorry Nat, I see you are trying to keep the peace, but I like to stir the pot, and I will continue til I have equal rights in this country.

Marshall said...

The racism on IMDb is also pretty endemic. Most of the films I've seen at the "top" of the Bottom 250 have been urban films of some form or another.

Anonymous said...

Chris N T: I suppose that in the name of creating a more tolerant world, there will always have to be some people who stir the pot, but do you really think it helps to wave the Nazi flag and to otherwise slander everybody in a group (whether it be the religious or IMDb voters) to make your point? Isn't that painting everyone who follows a particular religion with the same broad brushstroke that bigots use to paint people who are different from them? Does the term "your people" sound familiar? Doesn't that make you prejudiced?

Aren't you aware, if from no other source than this blog and your own history, that there are a number of queer people that are practicing Christians, Jews and, perhaps less openly, Muslims, and that there are even more non-queer, tolerant people who are practicing "patriarchal religion" believers? Are they closeted and hateful nazis too?

Keep in mind that queer people aren't the only ones who have been persecuted through the ages. Christians and Jews have been persecuted for centuries for their beliefs, and not always by those of other "patriarchal religions". In fact, they were persecuted side-by-side with queer people by the REAL nazis.

Intolerance doesn't justify intolerance any more than two wrongs make a right.

Now, can we get away from the name-calling and get back to the Oscars?

Anonymous said...

I’ve never, EVER taken the IMDB rankings seriously. Never.

Although perhaps it is somewhat a testamite to BROKEBACK’s power that it remains on the cusp of an 8.0 rating despite there being so many freakin homophobes on the lose.

Plus to have the (endless) list of awards it won posted there is quite delicious.

Chris Na Taraja said...

Intolerance is absolutely necessary in order to have activism against intolerance and hatred. Someone has to stand up and say NO.

Ok it was a bit of a rant, but as long as i live in a country where I don't have equal rights, and films with gay characters are still a big deal, then I will be speaking out, loud and proud.

I mean when was the last time you heard someone who played a straight character have to defend their sexuality?

Also the current catholic pope was actually a nazi, and is ignorant and hateful to gay people.

Nazis were also christians. Hitler did everything in the name of Germany, and jesus.

Do individuals who identify themselves as part of homophobic religions practice spirituality with higher ideals and love? Of course. But it doesn't change the fact that the institutions are homophobic.

And if you give money to an organization that actively spreads hate like that, then guess what, YOU ARE FUNDING HATRED.

The reason why I bring it all up, is because I'm really tired of homophobia in hollywood and America.

It's ok to discuss this when discussing the oscars. Look how many years did it took for us to give oscars to leading black actors. Hopefully things are starting to change.