We watched Heckler last night, which is a documentary about heckers, incuding douchy critics and douchebag bloggers. The filmmakers interview a lot of folks about heckling, but the thing the film coelesces around is Jamie Kennedy going around reading or saying back to the hecklers/critics, “Why are you so mean to me?”
In lesser hands, this would sound whiny–like why are you so mean to ME, poor put-upon me? But I think the reason it works so well is that Kennedy seems truly interested in trying to understand them, why are THEY so mean to another person, who in this case, happens to be him, a guy who can turn it back on them.
It’s interesting to watch him pull aside hecklers and ask them why they’re doing what they’re doing and to see the hecklers try to pass it off as saying, “To help you get better” and then him say, “Okay, so you have my attention. What would make me better? What, exactly, should I be doing differently?” and then the hecklers say “Be funny.”
Which, you know, in writing it, sounds kind of like a score for the hecklers, but in seeing it, seeing him willing to open himself genuinely up to these folks and basically say, “I am listening, really trying to hear what you’re saying.” and to see them kind of flounder and only come up with douchiness in response is pretty appalling.
Yeah, I mean, sure, of course there could have been some folks who did take a moment to try to give thoughtful answers, and, if they exist, we don’t see them.
There’s a lot of discussion, too, about what the “proper” role of the critic is and, of course, I disagree with the folks who are trying to argue that you have to have done what you are criticizing in order to properly criticize it. But the broader point that many of the folks are trying to make–that the critic should be engaged with the thing the are criticizing–the movie or the performance–and not the performer, personally, seems well-placed.
But, yes, back to the title of my post. By the end of the thing, you just want to invite Kennedy to your house and set him at your kitchen table and feed him a meal while everyone talks about basketball or something.