Don't we wish. Really. Don't we wish that the unenlightened would remain silent and people would research, read, and research some more before shooting their mouths off? Wouldn't it be lovely if BEFORE somebody posted something on the internet or forwarded some rumor or thrashing on social media, they checked it out first? I guess most people just aren't wired that way. But writers are. Or, I thought they were.
Many years ago (2007 to be exact), Terry Rossio was speaking with several writers over dinner in Austin, Texas, about creative control and told us a cautionary tale of a visible and known critic who gave two thumbs down to a film citing the fatally flawed screenplay, a piece of work the critic never set eyes on. Terry urged us to remember that few people who criticize writers in this way have any real concept of how the process works. Otherwise, they would not make such uninformed judgments.
Fast forward to present day and a particularly scathing Lone Ranger review by Michael Phillips who seems to lay everything he doesn't like about the film squarely at the feet of Terry Rossio without ever seeing a draft of any screenplay or, evidently, learning about the film's story process or finding out when the writing of the film began with Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio or when Justin Haythe came on board or who was holding the creative reins when the film was shot.
A werewolf plot line? Really, Michael? A werewolf?
Maybe the film feels schizophrenic because the work of the replaced writers was morphed into the work of a new writer with a different vision. Maybe you had an actor on the set adding his own personal touches, some of which worked and some that did not. Maybe the film is precisely what Jerry Bruckheimer and Gore Verbinski wanted it to be. Maybe the horse was really the one doing all the writing, producing, and directing. Who knows. Oh, wait. Michael Phillips does. A replaced writer is to blame and he knows this without ever having set eyes on a screenplay.
QED, Mr. Rossio. QED.
I don't have a problem with anyone saying what they liked and did not like about a film. That's what we do as movie-watchers and sometimes we even walk out spoiling it for people in line with our loved her, hated him, this sucked, that didn't, and can you believe they stuck a horse in a tree? Wait ‘til you get in the car, people!
What does bother me, though, is when people wag their fingers about things they didn't take the time to investigate and spread assumptions that other people will accept as fact and then also spread without checking. This is particularly heinous if you are a high profile finger-wagger.
I saw The Lone Ranger and while I have very strong opinions (primarily disappointed that the violence is not implied enough for me to take my seven year old nephew), I will see it again since I have a habit of getting lost in a particularly exquisite soundtrack and forgetting to watch the film. This happened more than once in The Lone Ranger. But, I do actually know who to blame for that. Thank you, Hans Zimmer. I wag my finger at you, sir.
Meanwhile, I just had a film idea I need hurry up and draft on paper. It's a western with – wait for it – werewolves!