Is The Fist Mightier Than The Keyboard?

Fantastic Fest poster 2012
Fantastic Fest poster 2012

People love to fight about movies. People especially love to fight about movies when they’re egotistical maniacs who believe their opinion needs to be accepted by all others to gain validity, but such is the life of a blogger (I kid). We have passion! Although, maybe sometimes too much passion.  For instance, it may occasionally happen that our own passion conflicts with another’s until the gloves come off! Sometimes literally (it’s hard to type with gloves on) and sometimes figuratively.

Most of the fighting happens online. The most recent skirmish happened after an article written by David Cox admonishing stop motion animation appeared in The Guardian. Cox, who wears a perpetual frown, called stop motion a darling animation only touted by cinema snobs who refuse to recognize the possibilities of CGI. Yet rather than quote examples of breathtaking CGI work, Cox just compares the profits of CGI films to stop motion films. He cites the universally panned Hotel Transylvania’s $42 million weekend box office to support his argument that CGI makes for a better film.  Of course, there were more than few scathing comments and a more than a few articles written in response but then the fight was over. Similar examples can be found in the cases of Philistines V. Slow Cinema, 48FPS V. Everyone, and Sleepy Film Critics V. People Who Actually Watched Cain In The Woods. Most of these arguments begin and end with a few strongly written words; however, one film festival has found a way to take these matters a little further.

Fantastic Fest is a genre festival “specializing in horror, fantasy, sci-fi, action and just plain fantastic movies from all around the world” that’s held annually in Austin Texas. Each year as part of the festival they hold an event called Fantastic Debates where they allow people to literally fight about movies. The event is held within a boxing ring and begins with opposing fighters at awkwardly inserted podiums. Each fighter is given a chance to state their views, argue, get mad at one another, and then the podiums are removed and they, again literally, start fighting each other. It’s an interesting concept but one that begs the question “Is having a strong opinion on Mumblecore worth getting punched repeatedly in the face?”

Maybe I just don’t like film that much or maybe it’s that I just don’t like getting punched in the face but I’d have a hard time thinking of a good reason to step into a boxing ring. Yet despite my own aversion to facial bruising and cauliflower ears I am drawn to the spectacle of the event. Even if the fight doesn’t do anything to further the argument of either fighter it is interesting to see what some people are willing to fight for. I think these debates speak to the legitimate culture of cinema. These debates prove that, at the very least, film has an amazing power to influence people’s lives in a way that could cause someone to risk a concussion or a broken nose.

So what do you think? Would you ever step into a boxing ring to defend a film? What do you think of the Fantastic Debates? Please leave some comments below so that we can continue our discussion on passionate bloggers, strongly worded letters, and getting punched in the face for the sake of film.

-Jet Fuel Blogger, Lucas Sifuentes

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