berating the classics
July 2, 2004 9:45 PM   Subscribe

"First, look up the most popular and critically-acclaimed books, movies, and music on Amazon. Click on 'Customer Reviews,' and sort them by 'Lowest Rating First'..." The Knee-Jerk Contrarian Game.
posted by reklaw (46 comments total)
F'n awesome. Post of the day, hands down.

My Fave on Citizen Kane:
"Please stop the hype on Citizen Kane. It doesn't work. It's like you are trying to convince people that poop smells good."

on Catcher in the Rye:
"This book was linked with the murders of John Lennon, and actress Rebecca Schaeffer. How could this book be around, when so many nutcases use it for such things?"
posted by Quartermass at 10:21 PM on July 2, 2004

The French Connection

C'mon people! How fun is it to watch a racist, lewd, borrish, and dumb person beating up people for no f-----g reason. As little as possible. All the film does is show two unorthadox sleep in car all night, hold up bars just because there are black people there, and reapeatedly getting the same food as 24 minutes ago. And a point that should go out, THERE IS NO CAR CHASE! Just someone chasing a train! I will end by saying that this trashy film deserved no oscars! BYE!

The Godfather

"The Godfather" has an ugly consciousness and a mean spirit. I see no justification for it, thoroughly disliked it, and have tried to forget it.

posted by dobbs on July 2, 2004 12:04 AM

posted by interrobang at 11:00 PM on July 2, 2004

Not saying anything bad about dobbs. Just pointing out that he made the list.
posted by interrobang at 11:01 PM on July 2, 2004

Uh... you know that dobbs didn't actually WRITE those comments, right? The way the game works is you find your favorite knee jerk contrarian on the Amazon page, and you post their quote to Andy's comments section. Dobbs was posting the amusingly strong contrarian reviews of The French Connection & The Godfather, he didn't author those quotes.
posted by jonson at 11:12 PM on July 2, 2004

jonson's right. I didn't write that stuff, I just grabbed them from Amazon.
posted by dobbs at 11:23 PM on July 2, 2004

"I cant believe that Spielberg is so sick that he actualy tried to make a comedy out of the Holocaust. I'll admit I laughed but I wasn't proud of myself for laughing."

This is a goldmine of comedic gold.
posted by Quartermass at 11:26 PM on July 2, 2004

From the review of Lawrence of Arabia:
To my horror, I saw that Columbia had seen fit to alter a masterpiece. Yes, the film came complete with those horrific black bars at the top and bottom of my screen, which obscured about half of the picture. I've seen those bars on the "artsy" videos on TV, and I sometimes enjoy them. But this is a classic work of art! You don't try to make it "hip" and "relevant" with modern touches. It would be like adding a moustache to the Mona Lisa. Until Columbia drops the act and releases "Lawrence of Arabia" without those bars, letting us see all of the picture, stay away.

This guy can't be serious, can he?
posted by Johnny Assay at 11:27 PM on July 2, 2004

posted by interrobang at 11:28 PM on July 2, 2004

Great post. My favorite so far:

Ulysses is a hardcover bounded knife in the face.
posted by btwillig at 11:30 PM on July 2, 2004

Here is a twist: 5 star reviews for terrible albums:

For Britney Spears "In The Zone"

"Finally a CD not too hard undertanding. Brintey a true rock star. She to be around long long time. Favorite songs mine: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,11,10,12,13. She not lip-synching on this CD, that for sure! CD cover very nice, good picture. She advance much on this CD. I agree people being mean they to say CD not good. Her true talent shine through, should be number one every where!"


"Even if you own In the Zone on CD, you must get the DVD-Audio version! It is truly an amazing listening experience! It's like being in the middle of the room while Britney sings and dances all around you. This is mixed in surround so it comes out SIX speakers!!! And I can tell you, as a sound mixer myself, this is one of the best surround mixes I've ever heard. "

and my fav. . .
"She has broken her leg, she is a really working girl, don't talk bad if u didn't hear this record. "
posted by Quartermass at 11:37 PM on July 2, 2004

i can't believe i have to live on the same planet as these people *cries, bangs head on desk*
posted by t r a c y at 11:40 PM on July 2, 2004

Norah Jones - "This is 100% rectum"

Well, yeah.

But as long as we're talking about "popular and critically-acclaimed" works, why is the "Shawshank Redemption" listed in the same galaxy as "Casablanca" and "Citizen Kane"? I don't know anyone who's not a stoned college sophomore that thinks Shawshank is a great cinematic landmark.
posted by dhoyt at 11:50 PM on July 2, 2004

cruising myself...

Walden, by H.D. Thoreau:

"If he wanted to find out who he was, he should've become a buddhist monk or something. I've seen someone else who left society and moved to the woods, and he is locked away for a long time for sending people bombs in the mail. "

"Living deliberately stinks."
posted by kaibutsu at 11:56 PM on July 2, 2004

Streetcar Named Desire - 1951 movie not as good as cartoon
I remember seeing the cartoon production of this play as a child. Vivien Leigh is nothing compared to Marge Simpson, and Marolon Brando just couldn't pull off the same caliber of performance as Ned Flanders. It's your typical delicate-flower-turned-crazy-slut story. And it's jammed packed with poetic moments- one after another after another until you want to smash something- which is what Stanley does.

*blink* am i missing teh funny, or are they being serious...
posted by t r a c y at 11:59 PM on July 2, 2004

Plenty of these are pranks:
Abbey Road

I bought this album because I totally thought the guy on the right was Kate Hudson's husband. So I mean, I THOUGHT I was scoring some QUALITY stoner grooves or like, something kinda White Stripey.

Dude, was I wrong.
posted by dhoyt at 12:05 AM on July 3, 2004

wheres Trout Mask Replica?
posted by Satapher at 12:39 AM on July 3, 2004

ahh here it is :

"Sqreeeee! Phweeeedlleldeeeeeee!!!
And I'm really crazy, too!!!
Skwereeeaawwwkkkk!! Phreeedleedeeeee!
Treeebldldeeeeeeeee!!! Skeweeeee!!!!!
Gibberish isn't gibberish, it's smarter than you are!!!
Skweereeeee!!!!! Skeweeeee!!!!
Double that piano on the crazy face mambo!!!!
Random words aren't random, they're ultra-intelligent!!!!
If you liked this review, you'll probably like the album. Otherwise, avoid it like a rotten fish (or replica thereof). "

posted by Satapher at 12:41 AM on July 3, 2004

people are always hating on iggy and the stooges around here
posted by Satapher at 12:50 AM on July 3, 2004

the reviews of animal farm and 1984 are particularly cringe-worthy.

"Let's try to be a little more optomistic, and work on a happier ending, shall we?"

you know a review is going to be bad when they spend most of it writing a poor synopsis of the work and using it to put across their poorly thought out opinion.

"Read something happier like, oh I don't know, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. It's amd excellent read, and with the Holidays coming up, everyone wants to feel happy."

oh boy.
posted by Dillonlikescookies at 1:15 AM on July 3, 2004


posted by fillsthepews at 1:58 AM on July 3, 2004

i can't believe i have to live on the same planet as these people

Yes, but at least you (probably) don't share the same country. :)
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:26 AM on July 3, 2004

Hey, this is fun. At first when I read the ones on the site it kinda pissed me off a bit. I mean comparing Kenny G to John Coltrane?? But then I started doing some of my own searches. For example "The Glass Bead Game" by Hermann Hesse:

"Reviewer: James M. Warren from Muskegon, Mi
Joe Sixpack here. Recovering homophobe. This is the gayest book I have ever read. The hero has strong feelings for everyone and is in love with several of the handsomer men. This guy dumps on all of his buddies and evaluates his emotions like no man I have ever met. This guy analyzes way to many things. And I have been told there is no glass bead game explained. I am on page 320. I started out with fifty pages a day then 25 and am down to 10. This book has to get better. I don't know why the author of Mozart's brain and the fighter pilot recommened a game that does not exist."

posted by Eekacat at 3:45 AM on July 3, 2004

"Les Miserables" by Victor Hugo:

"I read all of his books and he is a very bad man - racist I would say. He is pol himself and always belittles other races, especially black and arabs. This man should be in jail, arruba shallma kebun for him. Hope I will get to him. Don't buy his racist books."
posted by degnarra at 4:35 AM on July 3, 2004

On Kafka : "In my opinion, it sounded like it was written by someone on weed. I say he woke up trippin and saw himself as a bug and later decided to write about it."

On Mellville : "I am quite the fan of stories which involve man eating sea creatures, such as Jaws. Moby Dick is nothing compared to such classics, I fear. In fact, it is boring with a capital B. What is the whales motivation? You dont know."

The Cat in the Hat : "Clearly the "cat in the hat" represents a satanic creature or symbol, whose sole purpose is the corruption and temptation of the children. He is DEMONIZING them! The fish represents reason and sensibility (God), and the author has made the cat satan... so look at this: Cats EAT fish!"

Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar "I'm sorry, but you DO NOT kill yourself after you've had children. Sorry, but once you have kids, the suicide option is out. Tell that to Kurt Cobain and Ian Curtis and any other self-centered artist: Try being a responsible human being for a change and quit thinking only about yourself so much." Stop brooding! Grow up! - Sensible advice lost on the self-absorbed depressed who are usually too silly to listen.

Great Expectations : "While cultural pundits try to convince you that some literature is better than other literature, the truth is that all art is relative to individial tastes. Thus, it doesn't make any sense to think that a novel like this one is really any better than say, Michael Crichton or Stephen King. Aesthetic standards can't be grounded.

Thus, don't listen to anyone who tries to distinguish between "serious" works of literature like this one and allegedly "lesser" novels. The distinction is entirely illusory, because no novels are "better" than any others, and the concept of a "great novel" is an intellectual hoax.

if you don't like reading books with way too much detail than don't buy this book. when i was reading it i couldn't understand anything it said."

Schindler's List : "Oh the poor jews and those awful, evil white people. Where's my violin?"

Dune, by Frank Herbert : "If there was a book on the idea of Dune I'd probably read it. Even the idea of Frank Herbert. Just a book about some cat with a big prophet beard and a penchant for writing crackpot books of science fiction/philosophy. That would be nice. That would compel. Even if he veered at times dangerously close to fascism, which he does, and so does that Nazi Heinlein. It would be hilariously funny to read about some chubby floodge who wrote silly books of facsistic science fiction but never had the heart to get them published (there's a spin on things), and whose rantings were restricted--safely--to the confines of his kitchen. Funny. Sabbath's Science Fictional Theater. Yeah. But Dune is, sadly, really sadly, poorly written and should have been better. Sorry."

"Animal Farm" : "Why anybody would ever need Cliffs notes to figure out what the book is about is beyond me. If you read the first 20 pages, you already know how the book is going to end. What, you mean the pigs gave themselves even MORE power? Shocking! I never saw that one coming! Save your energy for a book worth reading."

"In the beginning of Animal Farm it is happy. Animals overcome their master and they rule the farm. It eventually goes downhill from there. Pigs take over and eventually change the animal "commandments" that they animals had created after taking over humans. Pigs end up looking and acting the same as humans. The pigs abuse horses and other helpless animals. This is one of the most depressing and disturbing books I have ever read. I found absolutely no enjoyment or insight from this novel! Take my advice: If you plan to read this anytime soon, please burn it as soon as possible!"

Here's a review of the "Easy Bake Oven" : "For about six weeks, I enjoyed my Easy Bake Oven. I would offer hot baked goods to my guests, always daring them to tell me where my latest cookie or small cake came from. They never could, and stood in amazement when I informed them of the cooking power harnessed in this little machine. Needless to say, I loved it. One day, I decided to try the oven's magical powers on the perfect food, the ham-and-cheese Hot Pocket. Bad idea. After a few short minutes, my Pocket was a charred mess and the inside of the oven was coated with hot ham and cheese. It may sound delicious, but it was the final breath for my oven. It hasn't worked right since - now my guests complain that my tiny cookies and cakes "taste like meat". I don't dislike the product. On the contrary, I'll be buying another one eventually. I just dislike myself for trying to break the rules, and failing. Just like usual."
posted by troutfishing at 6:12 AM on July 3, 2004

yerfatma and I had a fictional Amazon reviewer character for a while about five years ago when we were young and foolish. He also had a yahoo email address-- the whole point was to get hate mail, and we got some beauties.

You don't have to stick to classics-- anything that has a cult following will work. Also, poorly review but praise some crap for a little extra indignation. Our character's reviews are here.
posted by Mayor Curley at 6:25 AM on July 3, 2004

"pink floyd is for old people"

Funny and so very, very true.

And I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who thinks the Shawshank redemption isn't all that.
posted by ciderwoman at 6:31 AM on July 3, 2004

I have been sorting on the lowest rated reviews first at Amazon for years. It is more than entertaining. It can save you money. It is much cheaper to read a well-written reason not to bother with a book than it is to purchase it.

This is an algorithm that can save you money!
posted by bukvich at 6:56 AM on July 3, 2004

Catcher in the Rye: A dull, pendantic book about a dull, pedantic hypocrite.

I couldn't have said it better myself. I guess ONE of these had to be dead-on.
posted by rushmc at 6:56 AM on July 3, 2004

More fun than a barrel full of trolls!
posted by Quixoticlife at 6:59 AM on July 3, 2004

Mayor Curley - Your review of the "Black Dog Summer on The Vineyard Cookbook" was a big hit. I liked it too (the review, not the cookbook) :

"I so badly wanted to dislike this cookbook. I went to Martha's Vineyard once, and I was nauseated by all the look-at-how-upwardly-mobile-I-am people that abounded. The most reprehensible are the people who wear Black Dog t-shirts-- nobody cares that you went to Martha's Vineyard. I still doubt that you're Old Money.

Anyway, contemptuous of the restaurant as I am, I sneered when my friend came home from college with this cookbook. Even the recipes sound snotty-- lots of heavy sauces, and expensive, obscure ingredients. But I agreed to make the clam chowder in the book just as the recipe called for, and it was amazing........"

I loved your review of "Atlas Shrugged" as well :

"I find it amusing that most of the people that I know who cherish this book also consider themselves Christians. The central message of this book is just the opposite of "Love Thy Neighbor." If you are already very selfish and in need of a long, Russian-style novel to justify it to yourself, this is your book."

So sweetly true.
posted by troutfishing at 7:04 AM on July 3, 2004

Even when these reviews are attacking stuff I love, I think reading them is a good thing, if only for the reminder that not everybody in the world thinks the way I do, and that not everybody has to. Vive la differance, folks.
posted by jonmc at 7:10 AM on July 3, 2004

Great stuff. After reading so many nitwit condemntations of my favorite works, it was a bit weird to see one I agreed with: on Reqiuem for a Dream. Didn't care for that film. Hmm. I find it hard to imagine that the opinion that Floyd is for "old people" is the one example of someone's otherwise conventional good taste, but since my own opinion on Reqiuem would seem to be exactly that, maybe that sort of rare bad reaction in otherwise normal people is where many of these come from.
posted by sfenders at 7:44 AM on July 3, 2004

From the review of Lawrence of Arabia:
To my horror, I saw that Columbia had seen fit to alter a masterpiece. Yes, the film came complete with those horrific black bars at the top and bottom of my screen, which obscured about half of the picture...

This guy can't be serious, can he?

Actually, Johnny Assay, I assure you, they are out there. Classic internet kook, and I'm sure he's got plenty of followers who've never heard of Cinerama etc.

and I like Floyd and I'm neither old nor (anymore) a whining adolescent with girl troubles
posted by cortex at 8:03 AM on July 3, 2004

I was also thinking that a few of them have valid points. For instance, people are so used to the popularised versions of Moby Dick, that focus on the action, that it's a bit of shock to find that half of the book is a deadly dull information dump about whales and hunting them.
posted by raygirvan at 8:04 AM on July 3, 2004

Echoing hizzoner's comments, I would say if you ever wind up in a dead-simple, boring job, there are worse things than setting up a Yahoo mail dump and slaying dead cows on Amazon. You'd be suprised how many people are hitting F5 on the reviews of The Bell Jar every 30 seconds.
posted by yerfatma at 8:45 AM on July 3, 2004

Actually, Johnny Assay, I assure you, they are out there. Classic internet kook, and I'm sure he's got plenty of followers who've never heard of Cinerama etc.

I'm convinced that there is a minority population incapable of understanding proportion. These are the same people who don't understand why their 72dpi shitty digital photos have to be smaller when I run them at 200dpi in print, and say "Can't you just resize it?" when their ads are wildly disproportionate to the ad slot they've purchased. I hate these people.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 9:04 AM on July 3, 2004

I chose "Shawshank Redemption" because it's #2 on IMDB's Top 250 Movies of All-Time, as ranked by IMDB users.
posted by waxpancake at 10:16 AM on July 3, 2004

posted by dhoyt at 10:18 AM on July 3, 2004

Princess Bride: "I have no idea what this is. This can't be a movie because movies are supposed to be good. The story is assanine and unbelievable. The title makes no sense. What exactly is a princess bride who is named after a buttercup. I was made to watch this movie in school and it was torture. Thank you."

Silence of the Lambs: "A supposed "thriller" that gets laughs in all the wrong places, this seems destined to be relegated to "Bad Movie Night" festivals and 99-cent rental bins. Foster is adequate, but I can't help wondering what Lauren Tewes ('Julie' on THE LOVE BOAT) could have done with the role. As for Hopkins, his last great performance was in FREEJACK, and his work here is more than worthy of a Golden Turkey Award. And was the wall-to-wall ABBA music REALLY necessary??"
posted by thatweirdguy2 at 1:02 PM on July 3, 2004

Seven Samurai

"This movie seems to be a scene-by-scene copy of one of my favorite movies-"Magnificent Seven". Magnificent seven is a classic movie that has been copied many times, but I didn't know westerns were popular enough in japan to be copied. "

god, that's gotta be fake.

please, tell me it's fake.
posted by badzen at 8:18 PM on July 3, 2004

I agree with the reviews of the Lord of the Rings movies.

The Simpsons, first season, was unwatchable.

Kirk Vonnegut pisses me off because before I read Slaughterhouse 5, I had an idea for a short story about a character who keeps randomly waking up at different times during his life - one day he'll spend in his childhood, the next as an adult, the next as a teenager. Then I read Slaughterhouse 5 and realized I'd been beaten to the punch. And I hated the way it was executed as well.

Oh, and in regard to widescreen movies: think about it in terms of trig. True, if they're full-screened, you lose the vertical bars - but proportionally speaking even though you now see the full field of view, everything's a lot smaller. There's a reason why directors frame stuff in the center of the shot - it's because what's important should occur in the center. Who cares about an extra two inches of desert? Moreover, the focus is detracted from because the actual movie itself is shrunk because the proportions are kept the same - ergo, you're seeing what the movie is actually focusing upon in less detail because it's shrunk down. It's a complete waste of space, and moreover, displaying the bars is actually bad for the television - the only color that doesn't cause burn in is gray. Extensively watching letterboxed movies can screw a TV set up, although admittedly, the time it would take to notice a difference is quite considerable.

I'd rather have a movie displayed in its full 16:9 brilliance on an HDTV than anything else, but on a regular television I would MUCH PREFER to have the couple of inches on the sides cut off. What's ESPECIALLY irritating is having movies displayed in letterbox displayed on a widescreen TV - it's excrutiatingly horrible, to see it in the correct proportions, the TV has to display VERTICAL GRAY BARS AS WELL, so the entire picture is framed using two vertical bars and two horizontal bars.

You know what's hilarious though? Not all movies are filmed exactly in 16:9 - so even LETTERBOXED editions get reformatted, so the proportions are incorrect anyway, and you're not seeing the whole picture.
posted by Veritron at 10:25 PM on July 3, 2004

"What's ESPECIALLY irritating is having movies displayed in letterbox displayed on a widescreen TV"

Just about every 16:9 TV made in the last 5 years is capable of upscaling the 4:3 signal -- and incedentally lopping a fair chunk of the matting that bothers you so much. A decent comb filter will make an upscaled 4:3 picture look pretty nice when you zoom in.

" so even LETTERBOXED editions get reformatted"

Not true, assuming you're one of those people who confuses "letterbox" with "anamorphic widescreen." In fact, not true at all. Just about all source material that has been matted or scaled animorphically is in the original theatrical aspect ratio.

You're more likely to just see a little more matting on the top and bottom of some things.

"moreover, displaying the bars is actually bad for the television"

Modern direct view CRTs -- most of the 4:3 displays in the world -- are close to impossible to burn in. They can, but it would take ridiculous levels of display abuse to do it.

CRT projectors still suffer from this problem, but anybody who buys a CRT projection unit in this age of LCD and DLP projection is getting what they pay for.

In any case, you're entitled to your opinions, but the average pan'n'scan reformatting makes me seasick. Most P&S operators appear to be idiots with shaky hands. I'd rather take the resolution hit and see the whole picture.

Having said all that: The first Simpsons season was pretty bad by comparison with just about all later years. At that point, it was still a sitcom rather than the parody vehicle it became. And the last thing the world needs is another sitcom.
posted by majick at 11:20 PM on July 3, 2004

Kirk Vonnegut pisses me off because before I read Slaughterhouse 5, I had an idea for a short story . . . Then I read Slaughterhouse 5 and realized I'd been beaten to the punch. And I hated the way it was executed as well.

After you dig burned bodies out of bomb shelters - which Kurt did in Dresden as a POW - and then sit down to find some way to communicate the effect of the experience, I'll respect your opinion about so-called execution.

Please go write a review for Amazon now.
posted by spslsausse at 9:33 AM on July 4, 2004

Kirk Vonnegut?
posted by waxpancake at 5:33 PM on July 4, 2004

On Fight Club:
phenomenal movie, but..., November 14, 2003
Reviewer: concertgoer from sydney
edward norton is in it. and so is brad pit. and little shots of penises here and there. i mean COME ON! soap made of fat? a secret "fight club?"

i've heard that this was a book before this was a movie - which is good, cause i don't want to read ANY book that's as bad as this movie was.

They've got a point. Soap made of fat? How ridiculous!
posted by etc at 6:44 AM on July 5, 2004

Most P&S operators appear to be idiots with shaky hands.

Amen. And even smooth, careful pan and scan is awful in a film where the director actually uses the whole damn frame.

The Professional in pan and scan is nigh unwatchable.
posted by cortex at 2:05 PM on July 17, 2004

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