As I’ve mentioned on a number of occasions, part of my desire to start my own site, with its own agenda, was to not necessarily have to always be feeding into the voracious entertainment news cycle. Keeping that in mind, this is why I didn’t immediately jump all over the latest Rex Reed fiasco.
To be another voice in the chorus that chided Reed for going way out of bounds in insulting Melissa McCarthy in his review of Identity Thief would add nothing to the conversation. As Scott E. Weinberg eloquently pointed out, and I’m paraphrasing, if Reed’s sole purpose was to slam the film for having one joke, and going back to that well far too often, this was not the way to do it.
I will preface my further comments by saying I’ve never liked Reed’s work. Growing up I saw three critics on TV frequently: Reed, if I recall correctly, added film reviews to The Gossip Show on E!. Then there was Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert.
Of the three, I held the late great Gene Siskel in the highest regard. Roger Ebert is a great source of knowledge, but I don’t frequently agree both with what he says and how he goes about saying it. My last piece on a critical blunder was on the first in now a string of spoilers by him (and it shan’t resurface on here lest he does so again). Reed’s latest gaffe comes about a year after his egregious errors in fact on The Cabin in the Woods, which were embarrassing whether he liked the film or not.
To get back on point, corrections and admonitions of Reed based on the content of his piece and his track record, which is unquestionably long, are fine. However, it was only in this debate wherein Reed’s sexuality was confirmed to me based on people’s comments. This fact was brought to light in part due to the fact that he is insulting a woman on her appearance and weight. The veiled insinuation being that this latest breach of professional etiquette is due at least in part to his sexual orientation, which is completely and utterly asinine.
Boorish writing and unprofessional behavior is perpetuated by those in all walks of life. There’s no excusing Reed’s behavior, and to try and explain it is wasteful. Especially considering the fact that Reed has gone on to defend his comments and not retract them.
Anyone who either dabbles or works solely in the arena of opining likely has made regrettable statements or pieces, I know I have. My real contribution to this conversation is the following: In general terms, when criticizing someone’s insensitive remarks do not make generalizations or you’re stooping to their level (e.g. “Oh, well he/she would say that because they’re this). More specifically, if we’re debating the quality of someone’s work their sexual orientation has no bearing on the issue.
For example, I’d go so far as to say Joel Schumacher is one of the more wildly inconsistent directors there is, but when he’s good I think he’s very good and when he’s bad, well, you’ve seen it, and believe me there’s worse than the one you’re thinking of. However, any debate of on works of gay directors whether highly regarded like Gus Van Sant or not-so-much like Joel Schumacher almost invariably brings the fact up at some point. Anyone who strives to do something, and do so well, doesn’t want a qualifier: you don’t want to be a great gay filmmaker, black quarterback or female senator. You want to be a great filmmaker, quarterback or senator. It works on both ends of the spectrum. If Rex Reed is a bad critic, which I always found him to be, it’s because he’s not good at his job. Period.