When shots were fired at Martin Scorsese, a certain acclaimed director wasn’t having it. A new article from The Critic was published earlier in the week, throwing punches at the director and claiming that his own movies aren’t exactly solid gold either. It was then that Guillermo del Toro stepped in on his personal Twitter to speak up in favor of Scorsese. The Twitter thread can be read below, as well as a transcript.
I very, very seldom post anything contradictory here- but- the amount of misconceptions, sloppy inaccuracies and hostile adjectives not backed by an actual rationale is offensive, cruel and ill-intentioned. This article baited them traffic, but at what cost?
To be clear: If God offered to shorten my life to lengthen Scorsese’s- I’d take the deal. This man understands Cinema. Defends Cinema. Embodies Cinema. He has always fought for the art of it and against the industry of it. He has never been tamed and has a firm place in history.
I don’t shit talk, I don’t “slam” and I support- but if anyone thinks that WWS is “…achingly slow” or that Raging Bull is “… bad filmmaking” and that “No studio dares to utter the word ‘no’ to him.” Film language discussions, history lessons and research may be needed.
Most of the article is akin to faulting Picasso for “Not getting perspective right” or Gaugin for being “garish”. If you assail these cornerstones, you should lay it out- you disassemble the work and build your position- not just hand an opinion with “slamming” adjectives.
When I read pieces like this one. Aimed at one of the most benign forces and one of the wisest, I do feel the tremors of an impending culture collapse- and I do wonder: “To what end?” …and find myself at a loss.
The Critic article in particular attacks various films from Scorsese’s personal filmography. The author starts out directly stating that Scorsese has gained too much power in the industry, with nobody daring utter the word “no” to him. The author then goes on to list things that they find wrong with various movies of his, Mean Streets (1973) is “overly episodic”, New York, New York (1977) has “repetitive dialogue,” you get the gist of it.
Del Toro fires back with short, but powerful points about Scorsese’s impact on the history of film. He mentions Scorsese fighting for the art of cinema and against the industry, which is based entirely on truth. In 1990, Martin Scorsese founded The Film Foundation, which is dedicated to preserving and restoring films for future generations. Earlier this year, the Film Foundation stepped into the world of virtual screenings for new releases, with the first being I Know Where I’m Going!.
The Fight For Cinema
Del Toro continues into his fire-back by expressing grief over “pieces like this one” which he finds frustrating. The acclaimed director compares talk-downs about Scorsese to “faulting Picasso for not getting perspective right.” While it is always welcome to discuss what works and does not work in our favorite (or not-so-favorite) movies, sometimes our criticism comes from bad faith.
The term “bad faith criticism” has been floating around film communities recently, where an author disguises emotional jabs under the disguise of “critique.” Certain critics, comedians, and online celebrities have popularized the style of critique, whether for laughs or actual criticism. The format has since been picked up by other groups and has been used as a crutch for more venomous attacks on controversial media. A recent popular topic that can be considered “bad faith criticism” is fans of The Lord of the Rings taking shots at Amazon’s Rings of Power for casting actors of color to play elves and dwarves, under the excuse of such casting “not being faithful to Tolkien’s original mythology.”
Scorsese himself has been under such fire since his initial comments on the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which is hinted to be the root of the Critic’s article. The article in question wraps with a defense in favor of Captain America: Civil War, praising the film for its themes on the “vigilante nature of superheroes.”
Del Toro wraps his own thread with grief and frustration over this style of criticism, which to him “could lead to cultural collapse.” Whether or not that is true is, in itself, the subject of debate. At the end of the day, movies are awesome. Whether it’s a corporate funded blockbuster, or a serious, gritty drama, films of all kinds have an important part to play in an ever-growing history of the art. It’s important to acknowledge those that played an important role.