Eric D. Snider

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Pretending to hate ‘The Dark Knight’ just to make people mad is fun

So I was in the shower Wednesday morning, and I was thinking about the Rotten Tomatoes users’ unusually vicious responses to negative reviews of “The Dark Knight,” and you know me, I’m always looking for a little fun, so I thought, “I should post a negative quote on Rotten Tomatoes just to see if they wish fiery death upon me, too.”

And so I did. I wrote a “review” of the film that simply said this:

This is easily the worst Batman film so far, and I include “Batman & Robin” in that statement.

Just kidding. It’s fantastic. My real review will be posted Thursday. I just wanted to see if a negative quote on Rotten Tomatoes would get me the same kind of psychopathic comments that other negative reviews have gotten. If it does, I guess that means those idiots really are just going by the one-sentence quotes, and not actually clicking over to read the whole review.

At Rotten Tomatoes, I gave it a “Rotten” rating and posted the first sentence as my quote: “Easily the worst Batman film so far, and I include ‘Batman & Robin’ in that statement.”

(Didja know that the RT staff doesn’t assign Fresh or Rotten or choose the quotes, but that the critics themselves usually do it? I suspect the big-time critics like Ebert have interns do it for them, or maybe the RT people give them special consideration. But most critics — particularly those of us on the lower rungs — provide our own quotes.)

I did all of this just before 10 a.m. Within 45 minutes, there were 67 comments posted. You can read them all here. To my great surprise, almost everyone did actually click the link to read the whole review before they posted, and thus saw the joke and laughed at it. In fact, the sudden massive influx of traffic clogged my site for several minutes.

Fortunately, there were also a few who gave the expected “You suck I hate you I hope you die” responses, only to re-post a few minutes later sheepishly saying, “Whoops, I guess I should have read the review first.”

Several people assumed I was trying to punk the RT system, and that the RT staff was to blame for getting it wrong. (They didn’t know how the system works, as parenthetically described above.) I hadn’t realized this at first, but this was actually a good movie to apply a practical joke to, since so much of the film’s viral marketing has related to the Joker’s pranks.

One person thought the joke was on me, as RT was certainly never going to link to my reviews again. Surely I would be cast out for violating the sanctity of the Rotten Tomatoes system.

The RT staff did take down the quote, actually, after 45 minutes, which is why the comments stopped so abruptly. One of the tech guys, who has always been very helpful and courteous to me, sent me an e-mail explaining why they had to do this. I didn’t object, of course — after all, I hadn’t actually written a review, and what I had written wasn’t meant to be taken seriously. It was too bad the fun had to end, but c’est la vie.

But some of the people who caught the joke still alarmed me. One said this:

I almost punched my monitor when I saw this. Then I read the review, realized the joke, and LOL’D. Well played.

See, there’s that anger we were talking about. You should be worried when your initial response to a negative movie review is to punch something.

A prevalent theme in the comments was that while my prank was funny and all, I still shouldn’t have done it because now my fake negative review had brought down the film’s overall Rotten Tomatoes score:

LOL but Rotten Tomatoes better fix it…

This was ****ing genious!!! But yeah take it off because it’s also affecting the film’s rating.

Please change it. Quit abusing this site.

It was a funny joke but He knocked down the percentage down from 90% to 89%. RT REMOVE THIS!

Lmao! you gotta fix this though…

I DONT CARE ABOUT HIS VOTE, JUST NEED TO GET BACK TO 90%

To summarize, here’s what happened: Some fans of the movie (who haven’t seen it yet, by the way) decided that the film’s Rotten Tomatoes score is going to be very important to them. This was an arbitrary decision, of course; the RT score could be 0% and they would still be allowed to like the movie. The RT score affects them in no way whatsoever. Nonetheless, they decided it was important, and my messing with it was Very Serious Business.

Seriously, dude, don’t even joke about not liking “The Dark Knight.” I know you’re trying to be funny and everything, but seriously. We don’t make jokes like that. We don’t pretend to not like “The Dark Knight.” That’s not cool, dude. Don’t even joke.

(That wasn’t a quote; that was my summary of what their attitude seemed to be.)

I guess you can add that to your list of things that shouldn’t be treated lightly:

- God
- National tragedies
- The Holocaust
- Reviews of Batman movies

Good to know! I’ll keep that in mind for next time.

11 Responses to “Pretending to hate ‘The Dark Knight’ just to make people mad is fun”

  1. Turkey Says:

    WOW. That was disturbing.

  2. schism Says:

    Those responses (in both posts) were actually pretty tame, at least by fanboy standards. Now, Halo and Mac zealots…those lunatics know how to start a decent firestorm. As in, with board invasions and mass bannings. The 360/PS3 warring way back when hit a decent fever pitch too, as I recall.

  3. Ampersand Says:

    While scrolling through Rotten Tomatoes I’ve often wondered how the one-line quotes are picked. I assumed that some anonymous RT staffer read through the reviews, decided whether they were fresh, and picked out the lines they liked. Now I know better.

  4. Devino Says:

    Great ploy Eric. I understand better now how people write there mad comments on websites.

  5. Savvy Veteran Says:

    Very interesting. I had the same visual as Ampersand, and it is good to know that some guy doesn’t have to read 150+ reviews and pick out quotes for every wide release movie.

    I am actually really surprised that so many people actually read the whole “review.” I think not as many would have though if the first commenter had not congratulated you on the funny joke.

  6. Adam Good Choice Says:

    “i realized it was a prank only after i slaughtered a room full of kittens.” Their blood is on your hands Eric.

  7. Heli Says:

    It’s interesting to have the veil of Rotten Tomatoes drawn back, with its inner workings displayed to all us mere mortals.

    Also, I have a friend who is VERY excited to see Dark Knight, and he was happily pointing to the film’s 100% RT rating a few days ago (when 15 or so reviews were in). I can only assume he’s been forced to be less excited about the movie now that it’s down to a shockingly low 94%.

  8. LURCH Says:

    I don’t know why they’re b****ing about the RT score; it’s ranked currently at #1 on IMDB’s Top 250. That’s a bigger honor I think.

  9. whome Says:

    I’m amazed that so many actually got the joke. I think that if the quote wasn’t so strikingly bad, more people would have just commented their rage rather than reading the review first.

  10. Scott Says:

    just wanted to ask you, why you did not like donnie darko? it seems like you didn’t fully investigate the movie. I don’t think it leaves you hanging. its a parallel plot and story of the last temptation of christ. Is that confusing? anyway just curious of how you came to your conclusion.

  11. Rob D. Says:

    Eric always picks a good one line to choose to be shown on RT. It’s usually as good as it gets when it comes to showing how he felt about the movie without looking at the fresh/not fresh rating. Many others choose a bad sentence though! Like they chose it by throwing a dart at their review.

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