RTF Original: “Here’s What I Think of Zack Snyder…”
by Mario-Francisco Robles (@I_AM_MFR)
Here’s what I think of Zack Snyder…
Even typing those words makes me nervous. Because I know that anything I write after those words is going to be incredibly scrutinized. Is it positive (or positive enough)? Is it negative (with enough evidence to back up why I’m saying something negative)? We live in an age where every online commentator has to walk on eggshells when it comes to discussing Mr. Snyder. Some of that is deserved, and plenty of it isn’t. But it’s a notable conundrum for all involved.
I’ll start by highlighting the most recent example of having to eat my words because an observation I shared got warped and turned into something wholly awful.
Two days ago, I shared a tweet with a pair of recent Vero posts by Mr. Snyder. Here are the messages of his I highlighted:
When I tweeted them, I included in the caption that I felt these messages were- in my eyes- a perfect microcosm of Mr. Snyder’s strengths and weaknesses as a storyteller/filmmaker. I gave folks a few hours to ruminate about what I meant by that, and then I let them know:
I felt that these snapshots, in ways both direct and indirect, captured both what’s great and not-so-great about his storytelling style.
- Here you see two messages packed with deep, insightful, ambitious, mythological ideas coming from a man who also clearly knows his comic book history.
- But you also see that they’re poorly written. Run-on sentences, missed letters/words, no grammar or punctuation. Kind of just aimless rambles.
In a cheeky, and mainly playful way, I felt like these captured what makes Snyder so frustrating to some of us. He’s got brilliant ideas, yet often fumbles when it comes to conveying and executing them clearly.
Was I being literal? No, of course not. You can’t base much on how people type on social media. Some, like me, don’t alter their writing style regardless of the medium; Whether it’s a tweet, a text, an essay, or a journal entry, they write in clear, complete sentences that are constructed using all the rules. Others, unless it’s for something professional, type like they’re using one severed finger while running down an erupting volcano.
But I still thought of it as a harmless, casual observation shared by someone (me), who thinks Snyder is frustratingly good at coming up with deep ideas but lacking when it comes to expressing them clearly. At the time I remember thinking that if there were any backlash against that observation, it’d be folks bristling at the idea that he’s not great at executing his ideas.
Boy, was I wrong.
Shortly after I tweeted that, someone replied with the information that Mr. Snyder was dyslexic, and explained that that is likely why his messages were somewhat incoherently written. I instantly acknowledged what they said, and clarified that I didn’t know he had dyslexia. From that point on, when someone stumbled on my earlier observation, I made sure to clarify that I didn’t know he had any disability. I didn’t immediately delete the original tweets because I don’t believe in rewriting history. I was perfectly happy to simply clarify things as they unfolded.
Again…boy, was I wrong.
By the following day the entire situation had become “EVIL BLOGGER MOCKS ZACK SNYDER BY MAKING FUN OF HIS DYSLEXIA!” in the eyes of his most ardent fans.
Then I became a target for all kinds of mean-spirited, personal attacks meant to hurt me. People attacked me, they attacked my career (I’ve been a professional DJ in NYC for 16 years!), they mocked heartfelt stories I’ve shared from my childhood, and they accused me of picking on disabled people. Truly heinous stuff. So I decided I’d just delete the tweets and move on, since no one wanted to hear the truth of my intentions.
But I’m not alone, and this isn’t the first time this kind of thing has happened.
When it comes to discussing anything related to Zack Snyder, things have a tendency to spiral out of control. There have been plenty of bloggers and journalists who have taken very unfortunate pot shots at the director, and they’ve made the rest of us look bad. But there are also blindly loyal fans who find the most cruel “take” on anything said about him and use that to trigger an angry swarm to obliterate the supposed perpetrator of the vague injustice. The attacks I’ve seen get really mean, really personal, and really dirty really quickly.
So it’s a very hostile situation.
Thankfully, it led to a cool and insightful chat with folks from both sides of this needless “war” last night. One was twitter user “Scott Stamper” and the other was fellow writer Stephen M. Colbert, who works for ScreenRant. Stamper is an ardent Snyder fan and Colbert is a writer who, like me, has had to deal with the toxic atmosphere anyone enters the second they utter his name with anything but glowing prose online.
On the one hand, Stamper explained that he feels the need to defend Snyder because of how seemingly easy it is for journalists to trash him, and because they seem to have “an entire industry” behind them. So he, and others like him, feel cornered and outnumbered; Bullied, even. Colbert pointed out that fans in that camp tend to paint all of us with the same broad strokes, despite the fact that bloggers, writers, reporters, journalists, etc. are all individuals with their own personal opinions, and not part of some collective. He also stated that if he ever says anything remotely sarcastic regarding Snyder, people jump down his throat- despite the fact he’s been known to write his fair share of pro-Snyder pieces for his outlet.
In the past, I’ve written about how things really hit the skids last year because of the tumultuous period of time where journalists knew Snyder had been booted from the DCU while fans were still buying the WB’s PR nonsense that “Justice League is Zack’s movie.” Suddenly, any writer who wanted to discuss Snyder’s dismissal without mentioning the passing of his daughter was labeled an insensitive monster- even though the reality was that they knew Autumn Snyder’s passing was not the real reason he was relieved of his duties on Justice League. It was a thankless situation.
That, and the apparent delight some critics had in denouncing Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice the year before, led to a situation where anyone who commentates on these matters is Public Enemy #1 if they say anything remotely bad about Snyder.
But since we’re all individuals, and I can only speak for myself, I’d like to make it clear where I stand when it comes to Mr. Snyder. I’m doing this because statements I’ve made in the past have been taken out of context, robbed of their original intent, and used to paint a completely inaccurate picture what I think of him and his work.
I have no problems with Zack Snyder whatsoever.
I don’t care much for his work, as we seem to have fundamentally different sensibilities and instincts when it comes to how certain stories and characters should be handled, but I’m not angry about that. And I respect him, because it’s clear that he cares very deeply about his work, these characters, and what he wants to do. He loves the properties he’s been entrusted with, and he’s amazingly open with his fans.
Late last year, when I did my own little DCU Rewatch in anticipation of Justice League, I came to an important conclusion about Snyder and his vision for DC: It just wasn’t for me, and that’s okay.
I’m not a gatekeeper. I don’t speak for all DC fans. I don’t have the definitive, authoritative say on who Superman, Batman, or Wonder Woman “are.” And these films he was making, they just weren’t for me. They were for fans who wanted something different than what I wanted. Accepting that simple fact actually made my DCU Rewatch a pretty great experience, because once I just let go of the idea that my sensibilities mattered to anyone but myself, I was able to appreciate his films for what he wanted them to be.
I walked away from that experience giving Man of Steel a B- and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice- The Ultimate Edition a B. I think that’s pretty fair.
And then something happened that would forever change how I approached Snyder’s Fans: I saw Justice League.
When I saw the film, even despite everything I’d reported and all of my warnings that this film was going to be very different from Snyder’s original vision, I was shocked and appalled by the extent of the changes. The film bore his name in the credits, but it looked and felt nothing like the movies I’d spent the last few days rewatching and re-reviewing. And, not only that, but it also featured some jarringly horrendous CG that filled me with secondary embarrassment for everyone involved with the production.
When I saw that, something clicked.
I knew it would send shockwaves throughout the DC fandom, and that it would be a crushing blow for his fans. They loved him so much, and they’d spent so much time and energy defending him from his detractors; They’d spent so much time shouting down anyone- and everyone- who referred to the upcoming film as “Whedon’s Cut”; They had thoroughly convinced themselves that all of us who told them the film had been completely overhauled were simply “lying hack bloggers;” And I knew that they’d see this film and realize exactly what happened here.
That’s why, from November 17th on, I vowed to be as kind, patient, diplomatic, and understanding with his fans as possible. In the past, I’d engage them and get angry and salty and hostile with them as they tried to demean me and my credibility. They mocked me viciously when I broke the story on May 15, 2017 that the film was about to be remade via extensive reshoots/additional photography, and so I’d lash out from time to time. And I’d make memes dedicated to how in denial they were about the situation. Memes like this one:
— Mario-F. Robles (@I_Am_MFR) September 20, 2017
Even back then, people ignored the caption, which clearly indicates this is aimed at the people who are in denial (“the nile”) about how the film had been taken away from him. They instead distilled this to “EVIL BLOGGER MOCKS SNYDER FOR MAKING A MOVIE WHILE MOURNING THE DEATH OF HIS DAUGHTER.”
After Justice League, though, I decided that I wasn’t going to get salty and sarcastic with these people anymore. They’d clearly been through enough, and the DCU would never again look the way they had hoped it would. So I moved into a new era of sympathy, respect, and understanding.
Now, that hasn’t stopped other things I’ve said from getting misrepresented. For example, a couple of weeks ago I said that “There were some within the DC fandom” who were strictly Snyder fans, and not interested in any DC projects that don’t involve him (which is absolutely true and something I’ve experienced firsthand in my 4+ years covering these movies), and that got turned into “EVIL BLOGGER SAYS SNYDER FANS AREN’T ‘REAL DC’ FANS!“
But I’ve written all of this just to have it blankly stated how I feel about the man, since there always seems to be a rush to warp my words into something cruel. But- more importantly- I’ve written this to shine a spotlight on what a toxic situation this has turned into.
I’d love to suggest, right here, that we have a cease-fire.
I’d like to call on all writers, reporters, bloggers, commentators, etc. to please stop with the childish trolling. Please. You’re grown-ups, act like it. No more personal digs at Zack Snyder. No comments about his daughter, his mother, his anything. Comment on him and his work the same way you would any other filmmaker, and stop trying to generate clicks by posting incendiary remarks about him. All you’re doing when you do that is exposing what a worthless human you are, who preys on the hardships of others.
But I’d also like to ask his fans to please try and be reasonable. Not everything is that serious. Sometimes someone will have a snarky or sarcastic or- God forbid- negative opinion about Snyder and his work, and that’s okay. Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion, and to express it how they see fit. There is simply no need to “go after” and attempt to demean, ridicule, and personally hurt someone who doesn’t think he’s a great filmmaker. It’s time to stop being so hyper-defensive and actually have somewhat of a sense of humor.
Life’s too short to get so bent out of shape about the opinion of someone who probably shouldn’t even matter to you.
This most recent situation has been particularly troubling for me because of the implication I’d ever attack anyone with a disability, or do so because of their disability. The truth is, I have writers with special needs working for me here at Revenge of The Fans. I’ve had contributors with learning disabilities who’ve submitted their works here and I’ve proudly published them for the world to see. My wife is a special education teacher in the Bronx and, once someone told me about Snyder’s dyslexia, we had an insightful chat about how that can affect someone’s writing.
So I hate the idea that anyone would accuse me of something so vile.
But it is what it is, and I hope to close this chapter for good. Regardless of whether or not a cease-fire takes place, I’m just going to err on the side of caution and simply not talk about Zack Snyder anymore. And if I ever feel my thoughts on him are getting misrepresented again, I’ll just post a link to this column and leave it at that.
Thanks for reading, and- please- try to be kind to each other out there.