Letters

NPR listeners defend "The Hulk" -- and themselves -- in response to Charles Taylor's review.


Salon Staff
June 24, 2003 11:00PM (UTC)

Read the review.

I had no burning desire to see Ang Lee's "The Hulk" before reading Charles Taylor's review. I agree that Lee has something of a spotty track record, though I immensely enjoyed his version of "Sense and Sensibility." (And much of that credit I give to Emma Thompson's wonderful screenplay.) I am a lifelong reader of comic books, including the Hulk, and I enjoy a good summer action movie that doesn't ask a lot of me, doesn't insult my intelligence and doesn't take itself too seriously either. I have to admit that this particular combination of director and source material was not something I was terribly excited about.

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But I also watch PBS and listen to NPR, and I wish someone would tell me when it became open season to bash anyone who does so and professes to get some value from it. There's a sort of reverse snobbery that has been underway by cultural critics like Taylor for some time now. Anyone who actually claims to prefer entertainment fare that is traditionally regarded as more refined and cultural with a capital "C" is really an intellectual lightweight who just can't appreciate the sophisticated nuance of inspired, lowbrow pulp.

And when the heck are these folks going to stop exalting Hong Kong action thrillers as the final arbiter of street cred? Wasn't this cool 10 years ago? Hasn't it become a cliché by now? And yet an appreciation of cheesy Kung Fu epics still seems to serve as the dividing line between the discriminating, sophisticated hipster and the culturally challenged, know-nothing fatheads of the American mainstream, wallowing in their Jane Austen and their "All Things Considered."

-- Jim Chadwick

Charles Taylor's "review" seems to reveal in him a particularly nasty streak of narrow-minded elitism. How dare a film not conform to Mr. Taylor's ideal vision for a particular genre! Just as "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" was different from his ideal of the Hong Kong martial arts film, "The Hulk" apparently didn't live up to his ideal of the comic book rip-off. (Indeed, the fact that Taylor would cite "Batman" and "X-Men" as his ideal comic book films rather than far superior films such as "Superman," "Conan, the Barbarian" or even last year's "Spider-Man" speaks volumes about how much faith one should perhaps place in his assessments.)

Come to think of it, what is Taylor's apparent obsession with "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon"? Does it really bother him so much that "Crouching Tiger" was such a success? It certainly seems to, as his denigration of the film seemed to take up as much space in his article as did the film he was ostensibly reviewing.

This review seems to have come down to one thing: Taylor is upset because director Ang Lee clearly knows how to enter any particular genre of filmmaking and produce works that break the mold of that genre, producing something that is gasp! different from and gasp! more intriguing than all of the usual formula films in that genre to which Taylor is so attached.

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I think from this point forward, a scathing review from Taylor will be my sign that there's a new movie that I simply must see.

-- Dan Becker

Taking swipes at Ang Lee is perfectly understandable -- he's the most overrated filmmaker in Hollywood today.

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But taking swipes at large swaths of your own audience shows poor judgment. Your distaste for NPR listeners, as though they were a totally homogeneous group with an across-the-board affinity for the pretentious, reveals nothing about "The Hulk." It simply reveals that you don't listen to NPR much.

-- Fletcher Moore

Taylor's points about Asian martial-arts movies may be true and are worth checking out. However, Taylor should do the same about the subject of his article. "The Hulk's" father-son relationship (for one thing) was established many years ago -- specifically, back in the 1980s when mainstream comics grew up (for better or worse) a là Frank Miller and Alan Moore ("Batman" and "Watchmen," respectively).

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I am a lifelong comic book collector and an NPR listener, but I don't know if this movie is for me. However, don't insult your readers with blanket statements, Taylor, or you won't have readers in the future.

-- Kelly Rothenberg

What an inexplicably strange and hypocritical review! Charles Taylor seems to be criticizing snobs for not being snobbish enough about what they watch. He strikes me as one of those anime fans who look down on anyone who prefers dubs to subtitles.

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Not having seen "The Hulk," I can't comment on his review's accuracy. I can only thank him for convincing me I should see it for myself, as his bitter and whiny tone has rendered his opinion utterly useless.

-- Morgan Davey


Salon Staff

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