'Captain Marvel' Review-Bombing Campaign Shows How Crowdsourcing Went Wrong

What’s funny is that Will Smith wasn’t in the Navy, he was a Marine aviator, from VMFA-314 out of the old El Toro airbase, and being a Marine who is marrying a stripper is extremely on-brand. Even if he’s an aviator, an officer, and an aspiring astronaut. Still a Marine.

Michael Bay, on the commentary track for the first Transformers movie, talks at length about how he has a great relationship with the Pentagon public affairs/movie propaganda division because “he makes them look really cool.”

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Other than Roma, I’m with the critics here. …Which shouldn’t be too much of a surprise since I’ve worked as a critic before. So I’ll just hide in my itty bitty ivory tower.

Also Cinemascore is pretty useless.

Advertising isn’t so much about planting a new idea as it is reinforcing an existing idea to an audience that’s already predisposed to it.

As Lindsay Ellis said in her video on the topic, Stanley Tucci’s evil scientist showing off a Beats Pill in Transformers is meant to reinforce the audience association of the product with elite business class types.

The point of having excessive imagery depicting military heroism is not to suddenly change someone’s mind on American interventionism, it’s to push people who were already on board with everything the military stands for into getting excited enough to enlist (or otherwise more loudly support the military).


I think Duncan mostly dunks on everyone involved- despite his obvious interest in lafyette the person, he is depicted as the ultimate ‘centrist’ in the french revolution… and also as a complete doofus. he’s arrogant, short sighted, too easy to place his trust in obvious bad actors and condescending to everyone around him. In the french revolution podcast, the conservatives are a bunch of out of touch jerks who got what was coming to them, the ‘classic liberals’ are naive middle class folk who ignore the actual facts around them, condescend to the lower classes while also thinking they somehow represent them and secretly probably want to become the former conservative ruling class and the radicals end up being so paranoid and quick to turn on each other that they ultimately ruin the entire thing by creating an environment where napolean can leverage his way into the chaos.

but i also think a lot of his ire is reserved for the middle/upper middle class classic liberal who enacts a violent revolution to overthrow the 1%, rallies the vast underclass to assist with promises of equality and justice and then turns around and throws those people under the bus as soon as they are no longer useful and then acts shocked when the entire revolution goes to hell. which i generally agree with- a lot of these revolutions involve very well off people leveraging the destitute to overthrow the extremely well off people and then thanking the destitute for making them the replacement 1% with a pat on the head and an ‘oh by the way, lock the gate on your way out of what is now my palace.’

also Brady was considered too skinny and immobile for the NFL, which was probably true. he never figured out mobility and his bulking up and improvements in his throwing form came while he was training as the backup.


Never said they were.

I’m having trouble seeing how you got where you did based on what I wrote… I use this subjective score in my own subjective manner, with the example of First Man, I’d guess that this one would be a coin toss on feeling like it’s worth my time on a given day, unless the specific topic is something I feel like consuming more of that day. So yeah, I’m guessing that there’s a 50% chance that you believe I’m obviously wrong.

It’s worth considering the individual contexts of a film’s reception over just the raw numbers. Rob alluded to the flaws inherent to aggregation systems like Rotten Tomatoes, where a critic will come out of a movie feeling unimpressed and turn out a review saying “I loathe a lot about this movie, but it’s fine enough genre filler” and RT will consider that a positive take.

There is always some level of bias in the medium, but the Film Critics Always Like This and Never That perspective is a reductive way to look at it.


Well, obviously I misunderstood what you meant. I guess I could have also said all that in a less confrontational manner.

I’d like to pick up on some comments about the Revolutions podcast.

One of the things that I had reiterated to me while studying undergrad history was to never approach a topic chronologically in an essay. While often the most intuitive way to approach a topic, it is an approach which has its downsides – it can get muddy when discussing complex issues, obfuscate important events through mixing your lead-ups, and prize the immediate over the long-term.

I think Revolutions is, in some ways, the best it can be in being what it is. It doesn’t stick to a strictly chronological approach and Duncan breaks things down to a fairly digestible fashion without cutting all of the important and interesting parts.

On the other hand, it is the deep end of the pool as fair as introductions go. I think there’s some potential for improvement (why not give a brief recap/highlight events before we get started so we know which names/events are important?), I think Duncan is trying to lay out, as Zacny outlines, the circumstantial nature in which events take place. The Bastille need not have been stormed. I think it’s a tradeoff made which often doesn’t work out in the show’s favour, but some of that comes out of how limited I think a chronological approach can be in history.

I think conversational-style history podcasts (especially without tight editing) are thorny matters, particularly when discussing a sensitive topic. A command of the details and an editor’s instinct are important in history – it is incumbent upon an educator to avoid error, especially when teaching others.

In terms of other topics raised on the podcast, Hardcore History is quite good, although Dan Carlin’s style can be offputting for some. It is very talk show radio and there’s a degree to which Carlin is (even moreso than Duncan) aiming to tell a story rather than present a neutral case. With that said, I think Riendeau is particularly thinking about the episode on the Spanish-American War based on the description, and I think Carlin plays up his love of Teddy Roosevelt for the sake of his meta-narrative or reason for focusing on him.

(Carlin also sticks very closely to his sources – I remember reading some of the books he has cited for the Spanish-American War episode and getting severe deja vu!)


As a person whose taste in films can veer wildly off consensus often enough, I still think a core concept of RottenTomatoes is neat - it doesn’t tell you whether or not you’re going to find a new favorite movie, just how likely you are to like it or not. In years past my favorite movies often had something like a 60%-80% on RT - that’s where you’d find Prometheus, Spring Breakers, and Interstellar. The 100% Tomatometer didn’t tell me a movie was great, it told me it was probably safe. It’s where you’d see the early 2010s Pixar movies and the Avengers, which almost everybody at least likes, but a much lower percentage of people who watch them genuinely love.

That said, both critics and general audiences are getting cooler. They’re getting back into both rooting for stranger populism (Black Panther and MI: Fallout getting love) and the arthouse again. So I do actually find more of my favorite films of the year showing up at awards and with positive Tomatometers. Unfortunately, still so do my least favorite movies of the year, but again, the Meter never showed how much you were going to like something - just whether or not you’d like it at all.

Good episode, gang. A real sampler platter of Waypoints.

I’ve really appreciated the current Revolutions series on the Mexican revolution, which I am embarrassed to say I knew nothing about before, and am now very excited for Russia. I tried to listen to several history podcasts before, but was very put off by all of them. Hardcore History in particular I found almost unlistenable between the sensational tone, the libertarian politics, and the five hour episodes. To Patrick’s point, this is the sort of podcast I can only listen to while waiting for a bus or drinking my morning coffee, though. I missed probably 1/3 of the France series because I was listening to it while watching the Winter Olympics.

On the most recent episode of the revolutions podcast he says something similar to that. He talks about how earlier in the series (of the overall show or the Mexican revolution, I am not sure which) he was in favour of comprise as a way to end conflict but there is a particular leader- Zapata in a part of Mexico, who refused to ever comprise in the latter stages of the Mexican revolution on his main aim of land redistribution. Duncan says he now think Zapata was right to never stop fighting because others forces who did before him weren’t able to get/maintain land redistribution in peace.

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Listening to the English series, and some episodes in he goes ‘remember folks, compromise -it’s the only way to get things done’, so he probably means the series overall.

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I’m a big fan of Revolutions and understand where Rob is coming from in his criticism. To defend Duncan I think his point is that Louis XIV’s failure to accept his role as a constitutional monarch and compromise with the national assembly led directly to the radical revolution and a cycle of violence and counter-revolution that precipitated nearly a quarter century of constant warfare that left millions dead. In the end the French monarchy was restored and almost none of goals of the revolution would be fully realized until the establishment of the 3rd Republic in the 1870s. I don’t entirely agree with that and put part of the blame on the outside powers that decided to invade in response to the revolution but I absolutely see his point.

He has changed a bit since 2016. His commentary on 1848 is that when liberals fight against radicals it usually leads to conservatives taking power. In his most recent episode wrapping up the Mexican Revolution (which is absolutely fascinating) he points out that Maduro’s failure to excise to old conservative Porfirians from the military led directly to seven more years of war and an inconclusive end to the revolution.

Duncan is a bit to much of a realist sometimes. And his personal commentary is focused on reducing harm in the short term, often to the detriment of social and political change. Which is why I think us on the left should listen to this series. Too often we ignore the fact that revolutions, both social and political, never go as planned. Once a system of power is brought down it’s almost impossible to predict what forces will rise in its place. Factors as random as weather, observant border guards, poorly placed artillery, and ambitious Corsicans can completely change the fate of a revolution.


cf. Lore Reasons (this is not a dunk)

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fucking seriously

The Age of Napoleon podcast tells the story of the Revolution through Napoleon’s biography. It makes clear just how utterly unlikely his rise to power was.

This is a common misconception that I believed until recently, but that’s not really how it works. Critics that go into the headline Top Critics number submit their fresh/rotten designation directly to RT themselves. There was a pretty good discussion on Slashfim Daily a few weeks ago about their struggle with how to categorize their Serenity review.

For those critics that don’t submit themselves, if they assign a grade, RT uses that, and they calibrate it by critic. So a 6/10 from one critic doesn’t necessarily get the same designation as a 3/5 from another. If the critics don’t submit, don’t assign a grade, and their review isn’t clearly positive or negative, then RT seeks clarification.

So, it’s not as if RT curators are never making a pure judgment call on whether a review is Fresh or Rotten, but it’s a tiny fraction of the total reviews, and the whole point of aggregation (or “big data” in general) is that an occasional misclassification will get washed out by the rest of the data. For a mainstream movie with 400+ reviews, it would take four mistakes, all misclassified in the wrong direction, to move the meter one percentage point.


Ah, I assumed it was mostly on the aggregator decision. That system is a little less cynical than I pictured, then.