Magazine article The New Yorker

Harangue

Magazine article The New Yorker

Harangue

Article excerpt

HARANGUE

A few days before the Adam Sandler movie "Pixels" was released, Bob Chipman saw an advance screening. "I was bored within two minutes, angry after five, and by the time all hundred minutes had run out I was sad and numb," he later said. Chipman, who is thirty-four and lives outside Boston, blogs about video games under the moniker the Game OverThinker and reviews films as MovieBob. (Tagline: "Film. Gaming. Politics. Geek.") "Pixels" is an actionmovie mashup of classic arcade games, such as Pac-Man. Chipman found the movie unequal to its subject matter. A few hours later, when his sadness had "simmered into pure, white-hot, pants-shitting rage," he wrote down nineteen hundred words, read them into a microphone, paired the audio with a slide show and clips from the "Pixels" trailer, and posted the result on YouTube. " 'Pixels' isn't a movie," Chipman says in the video. "It's a motherfucking active crime scene, and the crime is cultural vandalism." He goes on to describe the film as "a pile of skidmarked sumo thongs," "a maggot-oozing head wound," and a "waterfall of elephant jizz cascading into theaters this weekend." He concludes, "Fuck everyone who made this movie."

Within a few days, the video had been viewed more than a million times and had attracted enthusiastic comments from the gamer set: "Best. Movie. Review. Ever." "Preach it bro. As a nerd myself, I'm pissed." "Marry me!"

To some, MovieBob's "Pixels" review isn't a review at all; it's a rant. The word comes from Shakespeare. Hamlet, at Ophelia's funeral: "I'll rant as well as thou." Its meaning depends on the central question of the play: Is Hamlet raving mad, or is he making more sense than anyone else? This is the question we ask about our best ranters. In 2013 and 2014, Kanye West played stadiums in thirty-seven cities. For about ten minutes every night, he delivered an improvised performance that was part motivational speech, part critique of the fashion industry, and part off-the-cuff observations about water bottles and "The Hunger Games." "I go off on these rants that don't make any sense," West recently acknowledged. "But I don't give a fuck."

A. O. Scott, a film critic at the Times , conceded, last week, that the rant has its place. (He is about to publish a book, "Better Living Through Criticism," that explores this idea, among others.) "There's a long history--proud or ignominious, depending on how you look at it--of vicious hatchet-job reviews," he said. …

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