A Warning from Batman v Superman

This isn’t a movie review. If you want a movie review you can go somewhere else. That also means I won’t feature any spoilers…

Overall, the much-hated movie was actually decent. Not great. Not terrible. Just decent. There were moments with real potential (I agree with those who said the real winner of Batman v. Superman was Wonder Woman), as well at scenes that were just drawn out too long (building up the hatred between the title characters). But really, c’mon – it’s a movie about Batman and Superman getting into a huge fight. The movie delivers the fighting and action sequences you’d expect. The problem is we expected more…

trinity-1

This is Who We’ve Become
But the biggest thing I’ve taken away from the movie is this: We love to be critical. And the more snarky you are about your critique, the better.

We have become a society of people who need to be witty and sharp in order to stand out from the crowd. If something isn’t great, you need to write that it was a monstrous letdown. Things that are bad become unrivaled disasters.

Critical spirits are celebrated.

I honestly think that many of the people trashing this movie are doing so because writing something remotely affirming about it would be socially devastating. If movies need to be either brilliant or a waste of time, then a movie like Batman v Superman is going to get trashed. Again, it’s certainly no gem, but it’s not a piece of garbage either. But “good” or “decent” isn’t enough to make your review stand out from all the other chatter. And if you’re a writer, you want your words to get noticed.

Bringing Criticism to Church
I see this same critical spirit in church. Honestly, I see it in myself more often than I want to admit.

The sermon was awesome or it was terrible. The music was off the charts or it was “off” today (whatever that means). The event was worthy of going viral or it was a disaster.

“Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.”
(Philippians 2:14-15)

What do you want to be known for: your ability to cut down, or to build up? As Christians, may we grow as people who shine as lights in the world.

My Senior Pastor often encourages the pastoral staff, saying, “Not every sermon is going to be a home run. Do your best to deliver the best sermon you can, but sometimes it will turn out to simply be a base hit.” I like that. It’s not permission to be a slacker or to aim low. But it’s a word of encouragement from someone who’s been around long enough to know that not everything goes like you hoped.

What Do You See: Grace or Failure
When you look around, which do you see? Do you see opportunities to affirm other’s efforts, recognizing where things went right and where things could’ve been improved? Or do you filter out the good stuff and only see opportunities to show your sophisticated wit by offering your wittiest critique?

There’s a place for critique. Let’s not turn a blind eye to our failures. If you can’t receive criticism then you’ve closed yourself off from growing and learning.

Godliness and wisdom lead us to gracious critique, not to throwing barbs to draw attention. If you see yourself falling into this critical spirit, then next time you come across something like Batman v Superman, make the effort to remember that sometimes a base hit is good enough.

One thought on “A Warning from Batman v Superman

  1. the Well-Red Mage March 29, 2016 / 7:40 pm

    I agree very, very much and I was pleasantly surprised to hear from a fellow Christian on the subject of criticism. I was reading an article on film critics and Ebert and the writer made the point that his death signaled the beginning of an era of harsh criticism. Here’s how: with the decline of papers and magazines and the rise of digital opinion platforms, anyone can write a critique for a readership on a blog or site they built. But they probably don’t have any training on how to be a professional critic, analyze film or break down narrative. And since writer for readers has become far easier now with the internet, that means more critics are writing and they need to figure out a way to stand out from the crowd, to make their headlines shimmer. Like you said, a critic can’t just call a movie decent. Everything has to be hyperbolic shock-language click bait. And that’s come to define nearly all opinion platforms online. Batman v Superman is not an amazing film but it certainly does not deserve the scathing verbosity brought to bear against it.
    All that to say I found your post interesting, a kind of companion piece to an article one of our contributors recently wrote on our blog: “A review of the reviewers of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice”. It’s like a satire on the degradation on professional criticism into exaggerated opinion in our time. I hope you get a chance to read it and enjoy it as much as I did your post. It approaches the same concept from a different angle.
    Sorry for going on. Thanks for your thought provoking post!

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