Sunday, August 8, 2010

Confused Matthew's Review of SPIRITED AWAY

I am in the midst of scripting out an prepping my response, which I'll record and possibly distribute on Youtube. I'm not really into that sort of thing, but considering Matthew's chosen medium, I figure I can prepare a response utilizing the same kind of medium for symmetry's sake, and so that I can reach some of his viewers. Considering how he really missed a lot of what Chase had to say in his first response to Melendez' response, I'm not all that certain that Matthew's really going to care or be influenced all that much. The primary reason I'm making it, I guess, is for the sake of the truth.

First, I have to suggest you watch Matthew's review of Spirited Away so you can get the gist of his overall style and his distinct lack-of-substance on this particular review. I'd also like to point to his reviews of The Matrix sequels as evidence of how insightful and intelligent his reviews can be. The guy knows Baudrillard and studied philosophy. However, we can see Matthew's modus operandi, here, in full swing--his complete dismissal of that which which he disagrees, and his advice to others that they dismiss it as well.

Baudrillard did have points to make. The problem is, he was riding so high on the postmodern wave and his own inflated sense of self-importance that he practiced obscurantism to such an extent that he may as well have said nothing. Trying to read "Simulacra and Simulation" is a journey into an impenetrable fog meaningless words--it is almost as if these linguistic-turn philosophers want to prove their point that all communication is really meaningless by producing works in which you get the gist that they're actually trying to convey something, but its so obscured and so vague and esoteric that no one can really comprehend it. Thus, the points they are trying to make have to be deciphered, and even then they make their language so open-ended that the margin of error is a mile wide.

Which is actually the entire point of the linguistic-turn. It's also a logical fallacy, but they'd probably argue that the invocation of logic in this instance is evidence of my own "privileged status" and my refusal to recognize other paradigms of knowledge.

But I digress (indeed, for two paragraphs), so I shall return to my point. The film's basic premise will be simple--Confused Matthew must have allowed his own personal bias to skew his review, which demonstrates egregious errors in judgment, analysis, and comprehension of the material he's reviewing. That some of his claims are erroneous is self-evident--simply watch his review, pause it, then watch the segments in which he says, "nothing happens" or "this is pointless" or "this is meaningless" and you cannot avoid how obviously wrong he is. But some of these mistakes are borne by a lack of understanding. He is likely very unaware of many motifs of Japanese literature, myth, folklore, and a number of ancient and modern Japanese storytelling tropes. He also levels subjective opinion as axiomatic fact and ends his review with the statement that the film "is just stupid. The end."

This is totally irresponsible as a reviewer, and I feel that Matthew needs to address this. When Chase said that he pays a price socially for showcasing his ignorance, what he meant was that Matthew would be known as a pretentious windbag by anyone with half a brain. Considering the backlash Chase has apparently suffered on the internet, some of which I've read on his Youtube channel, I can't help but conclude that Matthew's primary fanbase is... well... gratuitously uneducated, unsophisticated, and revel in their own stupidity, much like many people do these days, unfortunately.

I don't want to post the transcript of my response before I finish the video. It's a work in progress, and I want to withhold the meat of my argument for the video itself.

I'm going to also start posting guest pieces by friends of mine who want to contribute something to the discussion here (or lack thereof).


WiseWolf said...

I said similar things on my blog. All off his criticisms are completely unfounded--he spends time talking about how a review said Chihiro was a spoiled child and that the film doesn't show it...but Chihiro never was a spoiled child. He passes off very specific symbols as "randomness," doesn't realise that these spirits are Shinto spirits that the Japanese audience would know about and wouldn't need explained, and fails to see that the film is not about how she returns to her world but how she discovers her own inner courage, self-reliance, and responsibility.

Anonymous said...


I realise I am a little late to the party but I only just discovered Confused Matthew, Chase Melendez and this blog last week (and btw I have enjoyed reading this blog!). Have you completed your rebuttal of CM's review of Spirited Away and, if so, where can I find it?

Dave Cesarano said...

Hey, Anonymous. I've not gotten around to it--I'd gotten onto other subjects and topics and ended up putting my rebuttal on the backburner.

Now that you're reminded me, I think I'll see about getting back into the swing of things by tackling his review.