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Zack Snyder and Toxic “Journalism”

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As we near the date of Zack Snyder’s Justice League, the press around the film is beginning to dominate all corners of pop culture. With numerous trailers dropping, along with posters, the hype for this film is at an all time high. And with the press and marketing building up the mega spectacle, we were also treated to some intimate interviews. And many with Zack Snyder himself.

Photo by Clay Enos

There have been numerous interviews taking place over the past few weeks. Some with actors such as Ray Fisher and Joe Manganiello, some with producer-wife, Debbie Snyder, and others with Zack Snyder himself. But the most recent article that I’ve come across carried a wildly different tone. It was an article from The New York Times by Dave Itzkoff. At first glance, this was like any other Snyder interview that I’ve read, but as I neared the end, it had me scratching my head at the audacity of the questions being asked.

By the conclusion of the article, I felt it was a maligned approach with the intent of garnering clickbait/soundbites.

QUESTIONS IN QUESTION

Here are five of the questions asked, along with Zack’s responses and how I felt about them.

SNYDER VS WB

The release of your “Justice League” brings back some painful memories, but aren’t you savoring it a bit, too?

“Only in the sense that it’s three years later, and here I am releasing a four-hour version of the movie. It really shows that the consumer is not wrong in a lot of ways. “They can’t handle anything over two hours, they’re going to lose their minds.” They were underestimated, the audience themselves.”

This question seemed to be fishing for an answer that Snyder simply wasn’t gonna entertain. You can tell that the interviewer was looking for a soundbite where Snyder would bash his former employers, as releasing this film is proof that they were wrong all along. But Zack Snyder isn’t vindictive enough to indulge in such things. Plus, he’s aware of the business and knows that keeping good relationships with everyone you come into contact with is key in Hollywood. That’s why you’ll rarely catch Snyder throwing heat at anyone he’s worked with (even if they deserve it). He’s just not that guy, and his response showcased that.

STINGS DOESN’T IT?

Since “Justice League,” there have been other DC movies, like “Aquaman” and “Shazam!”, that have gotten more enthusiastic reviews and made more money. Does that sting for you, that your films didn’t achieve that?

“I couldn’t be happier. It doesn’t sting for me at all. Those movies are cool, and they’re really well-made and excellent. But “BvS,” love it or hate it, it’s probably the most mentioned movie in hashtags and references. It’s the closest thing to a cult film that could exist at this level of pop culture. Am I a provocateur? A little bit. Is my job to make some pop-culture piece of candy that you eat and forget about the next day? Nah. I would rather [expletive] you up in a movie than make it nice and pretty for everybody. Let’s be frank, there’s no cult of “Aquaman.” Jason is a force of nature, and by all means, I want there to be 100 “Aquaman” movies because he’s an awesome guy. But it’s not controversial. And I have purposely, because I love it, made the movies difficult.”

This was the question that threw me the most off guard. Not only because it was worded in such a disrespectful way, but also because it’s false in some respects. Snyder’s DC films have all made good profit for WB. His films made more than Justice League (2017), Shazam!, and Birds of Prey. Plus, as I’ve mentioned before, it’s not like WB have attempted to reboot his vision. Ironically, the only new Justice League film since the “reboot” is Zack Snyders… It shows that Zack Snyder truly was the only one with a plan. And I also love his response, because everything he said is true. His films are talked about way more than your average superhero film coming out today, and that’s a claim to fame not many directors have. And as always Snyder shows support for the people he’s worked with. Once again proving to be a class act.

“FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, TELL A JOKE”

When you see what Marvel is doing in its movies, do you ever think, I should be doing more of that?

“No, not at all. I don’t know how to hit a ball any different than I hit it. A director has one skill — your point of view. That’s all you have. If you’re trying to imitate another way of making a movie, then you’re on a slippery slope.”

I mean… It wouldn’t be a Zack Snyder interview unless he was being compared to Marvel, right? I cant say I didn’t see a question like this coming. I did. But I was just hoping that it wouldn’t be worded in one of the most asinine always possible. If you look at Snyder’s filmography, none of it screams “Marvel”. And Snyder is a director with a very district voice and style. So asking whether he should sacrifice that style to appeal to the masses is borderline offensive, especially since they brought on a Marvel director to “finish” his version of Justice League originally. And look how that turned out…

There’s a reason Snyder has been seen wearing a shirt that says, “Never compromise, not even in the a face of Armageddon.” As Zack Snyder said; all a filmmaker has, is their point of view. And when it comes to Snyder’s voice as a filmmaker, he stands alone…

“SO FALLS THE HOUSE OF SNYDER”

Even though the DC movies have retained your principal cast members like Gal Gadot and Jason Momoa, they’re moving away from story lines that your films set up and the sense of a shared universe they established. Do you feel like they’re dismantling your legacy?

They are 100 percent moving away. They consider the theatrical cut of “Justice League” as canon. That’s their decision. I wish them all the best, and I hope the whole thing is a giant blockbuster on top of blockbuster on top of blockbuster. The stars of those movies are my friends, and I want them to be prosperous, and I want people to love it.

This question wasn’t as egregious as the others, but I did find it to cut deep. At least when I read it. The wording seemed very unnecessary. And the fact of the matter is, the question didn’t need to be asked. If you’ve been paying attention, it’s obvious. So this question wasn’t to garner an answer, but a reaction. Simply asking a question and posing it in a way to capture an emotional reaction is dishonest. And the obvious nature of the question is echoed in Snyder’s response. And again, Snyder being the standup guy he is, he shifts the direction of the question to echo support to his friends.

WHEN YOU GIVE A MOUSE A COOKIE

Do you think your “Justice League” has broader implications for the film industry and the lengths that studios will continue to go to cater to audiences?

This is a social experiment. For millions of people, it’s, Oh, look a giant superhero movie — I guess that’s cool. But then for a large portion of my fans, it comes custom-made. [As a viewer] you have the perception, more than ever, that the movie was made singularly for you as you watch it. It’s the culmination of this entire experience: I fought and used the hashtag #ReleaseTheSnyderCut, and it’s in my world, in my computer, on my TV, in my house. I don’t think anybody can quantify what that means yet.

This is a sentiment that has been shared about many across the internet during the #ReleaseTheSnyderCut movement. The idea of catering to (toxic) fans. And while yes, we can fully acknowledge the toxic parts of the fanbase, it’s a disservice to highlight that aspect more than the good parts of the fandom. Which is almost never the case. Highlighting negativity will always garner more clicks (and I suppose I’m falling victim to that right now, but I digress). The idea that this film coming out caters to audiences is flat out false because the original version that came out in 2017 was a direct response to audiences. After critical reception of Batman V Superman, WB decided to switch Snyder’s entire vision to cater to the wider audience response. And in the end they didn’t appeal to general audiences and they burned the bridges between the few loyal fans they did have.

If anything, this film coming out is an apology to Snyder, the fans, and all the hardworking men and women in front and behind the camera that didn’t get their due. And Snyder is right. This is a social experiment. And hopefully this experiment will show executives not to stifle a directors vision and to let them do what you hired them to do. Zack Snyder’s Justice League isn’t catering to audiences, it’s enacting justice. And at the end of the day, if there wasn’t money to be made, they wouldn’t release it.

INTENT VS OPTICS

I want to end this article off by making it clear, that I don’t know the intent of the author of this article. I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. But by the way he framed his questions, and the wording he used, the article seemed to subtly try to paint Zack Snyder in a bad light or at the very least, obtain some controversial statements. And this isn’t even the worst of toxic journalism I’ve encountered when regarding Snyder. But this was an interview that I found particularly troubling.

A big thing about ethical journalism is making your interviewee comfortable and giving them a voice. This interview didn’t seem to want to give Zack Snyder a voice, but instead put him into a corner to answer ridiculous questions for the sake of soundbites and emotional reactions. At the end of the day, I could be wrong on my assessment. But reading between the lines, in an otherwise good interview with interesting statements by Snyder. The questions asked left a bad taste in my mouth. And I sincerely hope there was no mal intent behind the framing of those questions, but it certainly does feel that way. If anything, I hope this highlights the importance of intent and optics. Because what I read seemed very passive aggressive. But unfortunately, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the toxic nature of journalism when regarding Zack Snyder…

Writer, film lover, and all around comics enthusiast // Favorite character = Spider-Man // Favorite mythology = Star Wars // Favorite director = Zack Snyder

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