Michael Bay Released a War Movie Trailer and the Internet Freaked Out
Let’s stop reviewing movies before they’re released
Michael Bay–famed director of the robot beat-em-up franchise Transformers–has made a movie about the tragic destruction of America’s embassy in Libya.
It’s called 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi and it stars Jim from The Office.
Here’s the trailer.
It looks as if director Michael Bay has created another two-hour film full of awesome explosions and American exceptionalism. But I don’t know that. It was just a trailer. The film isn’t out and I’ll reserve judgement until I see it.
Unfortunately, that’s not how the Internet responds to advertisements anymore.
In the weeks since the the release for the trailer to 13 Hours, countless think pieces, counter-think pieces and reviews have circulated. Is Michael Bay’s film a political attack? Who let a director famed for blowing stuff up handle such a sensitive subject? Will this muddy the narrative of an already controversial topic before the election?
Hundreds of bloggers, journalists and Facebook acquaintances are trying to answer those questions. Vox wrote a 1,500 word piece on the trailer, calling it dishonest and patronizing. Breitbart wrote a response to Vox’s long piece, refuting Vox’s claims point by point.
Again, this is all based on an advertisement for a film no one has seen.
I’d wager most people have made up their minds about what happened in Libya on Sept. 11, 2012. Bay’s film probably won’t change any minds. Probably. I don’t know. I haven’t seen the movie.
The reaction to the 13 Hours trailer highlights a nasty trend in online criticism. Often, critics come to a piece of art with a preconceived notion. The actual work of art itself only matters insofar as it can reinforce those preconceptions. And if that’s the case, why bother watching the film or reading the book at all?
Dennis Jett wrote a review of American Sniper in The New Republic based on the trailer. “I have not seen American Sniper,” he wrote. “But if the trailer is any indication, Eastwood’s film, like Zero Dark Thirty, tries to make a straightforward situation more complex than it is.”
The Washington Post recently ran a negative critique of comedian Amy Schumer. The writer called the comedic powerhouse a racist. It turned out the writer had never watched Schumer’s stand-up nor had she seen a full episode of her television show.
This needs to stop. Writing elaborate hit pieces about a piece of art you’ve decided to hate a priori is bad writing, bad criticism and worse journalism. It’s dishonest and it hurts the conversation more than a silly Michael Bay movie ever could.
I’m excited to see 13 Hours. The trailers for American Sniper left me cold, thinking that Eastwood was about to churn out pablum. I didn’t write about that and I’m glad I didn’t. Eastwood’s film was far more nuanced than I expected. He made the best movie I’ve yet seen about the Iraq War.
Can Bay do something similar? I dunno. I haven’t seen the movie yet.