Everything Wrong with Cinema Sins

(Welcome to The Soapbox, the space where we get loud, feisty, political, and opinionated about about anything and everything. In this edition: director Jordan Vogt-Roberts is fed up with Cinema Sins and we’re with him.)

Do you remember Cinema Sins? They’re the YouTube channel who puts together those “Everything Wrong with…” videos that point out what they think are mistakes in movies. We used to run them because for awhile they were harmless and amusing. But after awhile, they became far too self-indulgent, opting to point out things in a movie that weren’t really “wrong” with a title in question, but lame musings where the writer felt like desperately trying to be clever. That’s why we stopped running them with the exception of an appearance every now and then, accompanied by a single line, in our Superhero Bits column.

It turns out we’re not the only ones who are frustrated by Cinema Sins. Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts recently decided to unleash hellfire upon Cinema Sins after they took aim at his latest film, Kong: Skull Island. However, he’s not mad about criticism of his movie in general, but rather what Cinema Sins has come to represent and how it dumbs down film criticism and culture while masquerading as satire.

Find out what Jordan Vogt-Roberts had to say about Cinema Sins below.

The rant that Jordan Vogt-Roberts went on was inspired by a similar, albeit much more brief, reaction that director Rian Johnson had when Cinema Sins tackled Looper for an episode. Back in 2013, here’s what Rian Johnson said about the video:

This sparked a diatribe about Cinema Sins where Jordan Vogt-Roberts lashed out against some of the specific points made by Cinema Sins, and you can see where his frustration comes from with some of these reactions:

Jordan Vogt-Roberts went on to say, “Mystery Science Theatre 3000 built something artful, endearing and comedic on top of the foundation other people’s work. It had merit to itself. Things like Cinema Sins simply suck the life blood of other people and are often just wrong about intent or how cinema works. It’s terrible.”

After his initial reaction yesterday, and a response from the internet that apparently needed further clarification, Jordan Vogt-Roberts decided to dive into much more specific detail regarding his problems with Cinema Sins. So without further ado, let’s run through Everything Wrong with Cinema Sins.

Note: Everything you’re about to read was compiled from tweets written by Jordan Vogt-Roberts and reposted here with his permission. His comments have been edited for clarity and grammar as a result of the 140-character limit on Twitter.

 

Groundhog Day - Clock Smash

Cinema Sins Videos Are Too Long

“Cinema Sins may have been an innocuous joke when the videos were a few minutes long. But at 18 minutes long, it’s so innocuous anymore. For a video like that to be 18 minutes long, it takes a rare combination of self importance and a lack of an ability to edit yourself.

Think about everything a Rick and Morty episode can make you feel in 20 minutes. A whole lot. Likewise think about your favorite TV show. What does a Cinema Sins episode make you feel in 18 minutes? Nothing. Feeling nothing for 3 minutes is fine. But 18 minutes? What a cop out. 18 minutes long? Are you kidding me? Seriously just let that sink in. It’s just amateur hour. You guys really didn’t think the video would be better if you chose your best stuff and cut it in half? All of those “jokes” are a must?

Any artist, comedian, writer, filmmaker learns early on the most painful thing is killing your babies and cutting your work down. I know it’s hard to cut your work down. I struggled with it myself. I’m proud of how lean my two movies are. But once again, 18 minutes?! The length of this is a big deal and one of the main things that bothers me, and most people skipped this when reposting my tweets.

Cinema Sins scream excess as you watch their view count and ego grow like a parasite from being 3 minutes with their Looper episode to 19 minutes for Captain America: Civil War.”

Disaster Movie

Cinema Sins Isn’t Satire

“People are completely misusing the word “satire” when defending the cinema sins videos. What is it satirizing? It thinks it’s a satire, but in reality Cinema Sins is the YouTube equal to Friedberg & Seltzer movies like Epic Movie, Date Movie, Meet the Spartans, Disaster Movie, and Vampires Suck. Friedberg & Seltzer movies are not satire. They’re a series of sketches and bits that basically say ‘Remember this thing from pop culture!?’

There’s rarely true criticism with merit in Cinema Sins videos nor any real satire in there. Stop telling me it’s satire. It’s not. And no, it’s not satirizing nitpicking nerd culture. Regardless of how ‘self-aware’ they pretend to be, it is nitpicking nerd culture. There’s a huge fucking difference. So acknowledge it.

You cannot just call something satire. You also can’t pretend Friedberg & Seltzer movies are objectively good at what they do. Are Friedberg & Seltzer movies meant to be jokes? Sure. Are they good? Hell no. Is Cinema Sins meant to be a joke? Maybe. Is it good? Nope.

South Park is satire. It deeply understands and deconstructs what it’s discussing and on top of that tells you a story with thematic relevance As a side note, South Park does all of that in the same time cinema sins takes to accomplish nothing.

Honest Trailers can be satire. They actually write and perform jokes with a point of view with sense of humor unique to that brand. Cinema Sins is not satire no matter how many times you say it out loud. Keep saying it, but it will never become more true.

Red Letter Media’s Star Wars: The Phantom Menace review is satire. They lampoon a certain type of nerd culture and their takedown is accurate and thoughtful. Red Letter Media’s critiques hold up under scrutiny. Cinema Sins just wants to shit on things for the sake of shitting on them.

The Daily Show and The Onion more accurately report the news through jokes. It is through humor people glean truth. That is the role of satire. So to those who say “It’s a joke,” what is the joke really? Tell me, where are they going for the joke and stick the landing? Jokes require a degree of vulnerability as you put yourself out there for the joke to land or not. That’s how good comedy works. Cinema Sins just lists “flaws” in a seemingly factual way. To call it a joke is lazy fallback.”

Muppets - Fozzie

The Cinema Sins “Joke” Isn’t Good Anyway

“The internet just wants to say, “He didn’t get that it’s a joke.” Well, if it’s a “joke” or a satire, then it’s poorly-written and poorly-constructed. It’s just lowest common denominator stuff. They don’t even have the balls to go for a “joke” with a point of view beyond reductive nitpicks. Try and find me a Cinema Sins “joke” that’s not mean spirited towards the movie or the people who made it. Once again, that is not satire.

Compare them to Honest Trailers, which, like it or not, has a point of view and tone. They are going for jokes where you can say, “That’s funny” or not. Nothing in Cinema Sins videos is “going for a joke.” It hides behind a layer of “factually” attacking flaws and errors with no real point of view.

When it does “go for a joke” it is always oddly mean spirited. It’s milquetoast at best. A half-baked nitpicking character. But yes, keep saying I’m the one who doesn’t get “the joke.” The only joke in a Cinema Sins video is that they’re 18 minutes long.”

Spider-Man - Green Goblin Death

Cinema Sins Shoots Itself In the Foot

“When Cinema Sins attacks actual movie tropes and flaws, for a brief moment it seems like they have a good grasp of storytelling conventions. In these moments Cinema Sins works. These moments are fleeting. They always shoot their foot with a rocket launcher soon after. Those moments are sandwiched between critiques that masquerade as facts and amount to “things I didn’t like or would have done differently.”

Worse is that they act as though they’re the arbiter of how cinema should work or function, or are so cocky they misread design or intent. Their videos don’t count as criticism, a joke nor satire. They play 18 minutes of someone else’s movie with their own shit commentary track.

Red Letter Media’s Star Wars: The Phantom Menace breakdown is satirizing something and making great points. The review satisfies because it truly pokes holes in the film in a meaningful way. Cinema Sins is surface level and holds no water from critique to critique and frequently has a disdain for how cinema itself functions.

Cinema Sins has no critical weight, so anyone who thinks I was upset by the video is wrong. I’m just calling out some bullshit on my mind. If “we shit on everything” is your content banner – fine. But it better hold water. These videos have a few basic modes that get old quick.”

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - Fred & George Weasley

Cinema Sins Has a Formula That Gets Old Quick

For this next part, we’re just going to feature the updates to Twitter where Jordan Vogt-Roberts used the much shorter video that Cinema Sins made for Looper (back when they made shorter videos) as a way of pointing out the formula that these videos have, beat-by-beat.

Yep, that pretty much covers it.

Jordan Vogt-Roberts

Jordan Vogt-Roberts’ Final Thoughts

“I love film criticism and I love reading negative reviews if the author makes compelling and well-written arguments.

To anyone who thinks this video makes me mad or hurts me, it doesn’t. It just makes me sad they get so many views and contribute to the dumbing down of cinema as they siphon other people’s work for their own gain. I make movies because I love film. These guys are just trolling the art form we love and profiting from it while dumbing the conversation.

To those who say I’m having a meltdown, I’m calmly siting on my porch enjoying myself. Anyhow, have a good day. Go watch a movie you’ve never seen before and actually discuss it with someone instead of focusing on reductive crap.”

***

This is exactly how we at /Film feel about Cinema Sins. While they once began as something amusing for movie fans to watch, they’ve since become exactly what we hate about internet culture, especially when it comes to criticizing movies. As Vogt-Roberts points out, there are things online that accomplish what Cinema Sins thinks it does with much more skill. Whether it’s Honest Trailers or Red Letter Media, and even How It Should Have Ended, they all are infinitely better than Cinema Sins. And that’s coming from someone who thinks Red Letter Media lets their satire overshadow the legitimate points they’re trying to make about movies. That’s how bad Cinema Sins has gotten, and we’re glad that Jordan Vogt-Roberts decided to unleash this tirade for the internet to see.

For more from Jordan Vogt-Roberts, make sure you follow him on Twitter. And for a nice antidote to the nonsense of Cinema Sins, maybe check out the positive YouTube channel Cinema Wins instead.

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