Cinema Sins:

Or: How To Suck At Reviewing Movies Without Really Trying

The true tragedy of the internet is the promise of the free exchange of ideas, and how that promise was delivered way too well. Now that the internet is (for now) relatively affordable to access and use, the influx of "information" has been less of an "influx" and more a "deluge" of "hot, steamy diarrhea." In truth, the use of the internet to facilitate communication and exchange of ideas is wonderous - previously, the exchanging of ideas was monopolized by the rich and privileged. That's why Fredrick Douglass was so important. But to reach a wide audience before the internet, you needed a coalition of people who would agree to signal boost your work: a publisher, for instance, an editor, etc.. Not to mention the money for ink and paper, and arduous hours slaving over pen or typewriter. People in the working class, whose time was consumed mostly with their titular work, tended to not be very avid penmen in general.

The net effect of the class barrier to spreading ideas through media was that the prevaling ideology would be invariably controlled by the upper classmen, through news media and, later, television. This control, in a word, was bourgeois.

So when the internet came about and everyone was hopping on to their dial-up, a marvellous thing happened: Suddenly, everyone had their own printing press! But a disastrous thing happened as well: Everyone had their own printing press. In the decades that followed, the internet became a scum pit of irrational and anti-intellectual ideology, ruled by populism and cults of personality. As long as you have enough followers, you can say whatever you want about anything. You could talk about movies without knowing jack about them and be called a "critic"; you could be an armchair sociologist and then assert that real sociologists are Socialist Jews.

But enough about Thunderf00t. We're here to talk about CinemaSins.

For those who aren't familiar with the organization known as CinemaSins, a brief word of explanation - "Word" here meaning paragraph.

Even back before the friendly and adorable megacorporation Google swallowed up fairly purchased the YouTube property, all the rage was in for talking about things that make you angry! Doug Walker and his Nostalgia Critic character, Noah Antwiler with his Spoony character, Brad Jones with his Nostalgia Critic character; All of it was concocted to capitalize on righteous indignation and sanctimoniousness about shitty films. The genre spread like a disease, ostensibly inspired by the handful of bad reviews Roger Ebert wrote in his lifetime. Talk about a shitty legacy.

CinemaSins is the most shameful of these cash-in critics. Helmed by the insufferable nerd by the name of Jeremy, the CinemaSins formula is this: CinemaSins select a movie, presumably at random, and launch into their review process. The review, typical of creatively deceased internet poindexters, is done in a blow-by-blow fashion, in which Jeremy will pause the movie to insert an interjection, objection, or just to make a shitty joke; each instance of this is recorded in the "Sin Counter" in the top left corner of the video. It's not uncommon for a film to rack up at least one hundred "Sins." If you possess any working knowledge of critical theory, the flaws in this system are painfully apparent.

However, clearly these flaws are not apparent enough, seeing as CinemaSins' many fans don't seem to be very up to speed on this; This is evident through reading the many comments on Jeremy's videos. Scroll down on any CinemaSins video to see what I mean; hundreds of comments about how "I'm so glad I didn't watch that shitty movie!" Or, "Another movie I love, ruined by CinemaSins." Realistically, however, you're more likely to find less competent typesmanship, seeing as this is the Youtube comments. These people were played by Jeremy, and they are the fool. It's not their fault, and I'm not one to insult someone for not quite understanding objective facts. It's just that CinemaSins' fans are simply not privy to the admittedly esoteric standards of media criticism.

Because the flaws of CinemaSins' review process are so numerous and intrinsic, it's necessary to break up this article into a handful of parts so that I can convey my ideas in a manner that might be considered intelligible.

Part One:

Every Movie Sucks

The major flaw of CinemaSins' critical process is that it is nitpicky, incorrect and inappropriate for the task of analyzing and drawing one's own conclusion on a peice of art. There is no interperetation to be found; Any metaphorical meaning of a work is either missed or glossed over by CinemaSins, regardless of how unsubtle this metaphorical meaning is. The very format of CinemaSins' videos prohibits them from gaining a deeper understanding of the art in front of them, because Jeremy spends too much time fixating on minor errors in writing and continuity (and, sometimes, inventing them - more on that later.) The first step to criticisng any work is to understand and comprehend the work completely. It is through this measure that the worth or truth of a critical essay, column, or video is judged. If someone clearly does not understand the object of their criticism, as in, the evidence for their interperetation of a work is insufficient, or even misconstrued, then that interperetation is more or less invalid. When a critic selectively reads a text or invents passages to prove a preconcieved notion about the author, it can be safely said the person is a shitty critic. Criticism is, by nature, a subjective field, but is still possible to be objectively wrong.

For example, if someone was analyzing Winnie the Pooh and they made the claim that the titular, malformed bear had a particular craving for honey, all it would take to prove this is to find evidence in the text. This is an easy example, for it is less interperetation and more of a neutral observation about Pooh's character. But what of a claim such as "Eeyore is clinically depressed?" Such a claim would require more than a surface - level reading of the text to prove, but it can be done (and has.) However, the claim, "Pooh and Tigger enjoy rough, interspecies sex," is a way different ballpark. At that point, it's conjecture - I challenge you to find evidence in the text of any officially published work based on Winnie the Pooh that proves the claim, or at least indicates it. When that claim like that is made, one of two things has happened: The critic is lying and attempting to mislead his audience, or the critic does not understand or comprehend the work

CinemaSins is guilty of one or both counts. It is tempting for me to assume that CinemaSins lack of rigor (a "critical failure," you might say) is to blame for the incorrect information presented in their reviews and the ommission of important thematic discussion; however, a more unsettling possibility is that Jeremy is intentionally omitting information or lying about the movies he reviews to extend the length of his videos and generate outrage in his credulous audience. For this example, I refer to CinemaSins' review of the film "Shrek." I recommend you watch this; It is a sample of CinemaSins most egregious behaviors.

Let's refer to Sin number 30 (jesus christ), where Jeremy responds to the scene in Shrek where the antagonist, the diminutive Lord Farquaad, in his need to marry his way into kingdom, selects a princess to marry from a list of three. In the scene, Lord Farquaad is seen to be in a dilemma upon being asked to chose a future wife by his magic mirror; he's seen stammering, and his underlings are shouting out numbers at him to get him to chose one. Jeremy's issue with the scene comes here: Jeremy wonders why Farquaad selects Fiona, the third bachelorette, when she is the hardest one to aquire, being guarded by a moat of lava and a fire-breathing dragon. Ignoring the obvious storytelling implications of Lord Farquaad selecting an extremely easy quest for the eponymous ogre to be sent on, CinemaSins ignore the rest of the scene so as to take issue with Lord Farquaad not simply taking the most rational action (counting the mistakes of characters as a "Sin" is another recurring theme in CinemaSins' videos.) CinemaSins glosses over a few factors in Farquaad's decision: Firstly, Farquaad's underling by the name of Thelonius suggests that Farquaad chooses Fiona, and the film stresses this by singling him out from the other underlings belting out answers by centering him in the frame and having his voice ("Pick number three, my lord!") be the loudest of all of them. Further compounding this as a factor is the Farquaad is seen looking back at Thelonius as he says this, and Farquaad almost immediately afterwards makes his decision to choose "number three:" Princess Fiona.

What is shameful about this particular "Sin" is that most of the scene described above, including Thelonius suggesting that Farquaad choose Fiona, is edited out on purpose. Jeremy simply tosses in an out-of-context clip of Lord Farquaad making his choice, and then triumphantly declares it a "Sin." This sounds like splitting hairs, but it really isn't. Remember the Sin Counter? At least half of the Sins here are like this. And furthermore, remember that these Sins are all tallied at the end of the video, resulting in a big, scary number well over one hundred most of the time - this same number that dissuades people from watching or enjoying whatever film CinemaSins has selected.

Finally, the nature of CinemaSins' process is inherently unfair to movies. CinemaSins simply do not account for the positives of a film, only the negative - only the Sins. This nitpicking analysis is useless for helping the audience understand the work, and only serves to poison the well. The underlying implication of CinemaSins' only accentuating the negative traits of a movie is that these negatives far outweigh any good in the movie. Rarely will Jeremy compliment or praise a film, and even then he will only praise it in the most superficial light - "that was a cool action scene," or, "I liked [actor name] in this." Nowhere to be found is an attempt at fairness and good faith. CinemaSins is simply not interested in improving movies or enhancing audience enjoyment of films - their only goal is to tear the films apart and triumphantly collect ad revenue from CrunchyRoll!The Anime Streaming Service That Hardly Works!

I'm not going to sit here and debunk every Sin in the video, else we'll be here from now until the end of fucking time, so Part One draws to a close as reluctantly as a gushing wound in one's leg.

Part Two:

"This Scene Doesn't Contain a Lap Dance!" *Ding*

Jeremy has a serious problem with women.

In the CinemaSins video on Shrek, Jeremy makes a crass reference to Fiona's voice actress, Cameron Diaz, getting semen on her face. Now, I can't be assed to remember to what this is referring, despite how familiar it sounds to me, but it hardly matters. It's a gross reference that isn't even riseable. More hilariously, Jeremy says this right after taking the piss at Shrek for having too much toilet humor. Even more hilariously is how this directly contradicts CinemaSins' set of self-imposed standards; You'll notice that the words "shit," "fuck," and such are censored both in audio and subtitles. So, according to CinemaSins, swearwords are bad, but references to a woman being ejaculated on are A-OK.

"Ok," You might be thinking, oh naive reader, "That's just one crass and vulgar reference. It doesn't prove that Jeremy's a misogynist!" And correct you are. A gaffe, for sure, but not evidence of misogyny. No, the evidence for that is every CinemaSins video about a movie featuring the Marvel character Black Widow; Namely, The Avengers, Age of Ultron, and all three Captain America films. Every reference to Black Widow is either incredulity that she's an Avenger on the basis that she's "weak" and doesn't have superpowers, or it's gratuitously sexualizing towards her and her actress, Scarlett Johansson. I selected Black Widow because her treatment on CinemaSins is a great symbol of the more subtle misogyny present in other CinemaSins videos.

The quote beneath the title of this part is taken from CinemaSins video on the film The Avengers. In the scene, Black Widow is tied down to a chair, and it is her first appearance in the film. Jeremy pauses the film and delivers that line, not even pausing for a laugh track, before giving the movie a sin, which is about as outrageous and ridiculous as it is nonsensical. Stupid jokey-jokes like that only prove as example of how the Sin Counter is intrinsically worthless.

Furthermore, one of Jeremy's most frequent complaints about The Avengers, the one he absolutely does not shut up about, is how Black Widow is a bad superhero because she has no powers. The hypocrisy here is that Jeremy does not say this about Tony Stark, a guy whose superpower is being rich. Nor does CinemaSins direct complaints towards Falcon, a character whose "superpower" is his metal wings. Curiously, Jeremy does not hesitate to also criticse Hawkeye for being "weak," even though Hawkeye and Black Widow repeatedly do things that are decidedly not "weak." The only evidence I need provide for this is to suggest that you watch The Avengers for yourself. Hawkeye, however, is criticised far less than Black Widow, who also recieves the double-whammy of crass sexual comments at even the slightest opprotunity.

In CinemaSins video on Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, Jeremy postulates that he discovered the "sexiest Leia moment of all." The moment he's referring to is Leia looking across a room at Han, uncertainly.

I postulate that Jeremy has some kind of bizarre sexual neurosis.

Part Three:

"Not-Knowing-What-A-Cliche-Is" Cliche

Finally and most puzzlingly is Jeremy's obsession with the phrases "cliche" and " - ex machina." This is puzzling because Jeremy demonstrates repeatedly that he has not the slightest bloody idea as to the meaning of either phrase.

Jeremy loves in particular to whip out the "cliche" bit whenever something happens that he thinks he's seen before, anywhere else. It's as though, while watching a movie, his mind just wanders and free-associates, and if one of these flashbacks proves too similar to something he's just seen, he'll announce "'[thing that is currently happening]' cliche," and then give the movie a sin. See, in Jeremy's mind, cliches are not tools of the author for telling a story and connecting with the audience, nor are they familiar things with which the audience can connect and use to relate to the meaning of the story; No, to Jeremy, using cliches is a sin. Even a two-bit nerd who thinks they know what media criticism is because they have an account on TVTropes can tell you that cliches and tropes aren't intrinsically flaws, but rather, tools. They serve an important purpose. If cliches were flaws, then every storyteller since the beginning of time would have to reinvent the fucking wheel, perhaps invent a new language entirely, to avoid them. The truth, which Jeremy and his credulous fans don't realize, is that cliches are more inevitable than death, taxes, or trying acid. A story being cliche'd isn't an inherent flaw, because all stories build on the ones told before them. If a work is entirely derivative, like Quentin Tarantino films, or CinemaSins, that's a different. At that stage, it would be considered plagiaristic. But most beloved media wouldn't exist without stories before, and the "genes" of any story - the tropes and cliches that it uses - can be traced back to the oldest fairy tales. Jeremy's allergy to cliches is just claptrap, through and through - and that's not considering when he makes up cliches just to call a work cliche'd!

Another catchphrase of Jeremy's is " - ex machina." The phrase derives from Deus ex machina, a latin phrase meaning "God in the machine." In a word, it refers to when the conflict of a story is resolved through some kind of contrivance or, sometimes, a poorly-foreshadowed twist. CinemaSins seem to think that "Deus ex machina" means, "A thing happened at all." If something happens in a movie that the characters were not directly responsible for, Jeremy's smug voice dribbles from my speakers and moans "[thing that happened] ex machina." This doesn't account for when the thing that happens actually complicates the conflict or has nothing to do at all with the conflict. In his video for Star Wars: Episode V, when Han Solo's Tauntaun dies, leaving him stranded in the snowy wastes of Hoth, Jeremy declares "Tauntaun ex machina," before the ding of his horrible bell signals the addition of yet another sin to the counter. Cliche ex machina.

I really want to replay Deus Ex now.

Part Four:

I Hate Jeremy's Voice

I hate his voice. I really do.


Please, please snap out of it. Jeremy is a joy vampire, and he wants to suck out your enjoyment of films and feed on it, leaving you a depressed husk who can do nought but whimper "CinemaSins ex machina" despondently as you rot away on your couch, your love of movies gone and your heart empty. Don't fall for it! He's a useless negativity factory, profiting off of sanctimonious outrage and smug garbage. There is something infinitely more enjoyable than watching CinemaSins, and that is sitting down, getting comfortable, turning down the lights, watching a movie, and forming your own god damn opinions.

Well, I got that out of my system. Peace.

Go Back