Friday, May 15, 2009

Thought experiment, and a summary of all the Keanu Reeves bashing you'll ever hear

Imagine there's no misinformation.

No faulty assumptions, no false conclusions,
no illogical arguments that do not follow,
no blind, stubborn adherence to ungrounded opinion;

What would be left?

It's not just about Keanu Reeves any more. I mean, yeah, drawing that link is what led to this post - the realisation that perhaps as many as 80% of insults slung at Mr. Reeves are in some way or other factually incorrect. Very few are actual, genuine opinions about his acting ability (or lack thereof, as they would claim). The majority tend to revolve around one or more of the following:

1) His perceived lack of intelligence, despite all evidence pointing to him being an extremely intelligent individual overflowing with eccentric genius; and the insults resulting from that

2) His alleged single expression persistent throughout all his films (what exactly this expression is, curiously, no one seems to agree on), definitely disproven with photographic evidence

3) Keanu allegedly playing the same character in every single one of his films. I don't even know how to argue against this, for the simple reason that it seems so self-evident that his characters are far, far, far from being anything alike. Donnie Barksdale and Neo, Jack Traven and David Allen Griffin, Klaatu and Johnny Utah, Alex Wyler and Marlon James, Ted Logan and everyone... COME ON, PEOPLE.

4) His supposed habit of saying 'whoa' in every single one of his films - completely disproven. On last count, he's said the word possibly only in four of his films out of 54, the most being 16 times in the first Bill & Ted, an unknown number in the second Bill & Ted, followed by 5 times in Point Break, most of those yelled while falling off a surfboard.

(Sidetrack: What is the best thing to yell when falling off a surfboard?
1) "Oh look, old chap, I appear to be falling off a surfboard."
2) "To be or not to be, that is the question."

Heck, there are at least three Keanu films (The Devil's Advocate, Something's Gotta Give and The Replacements) in which the script had 'whoa's, and Keanu said none of them.

And that was a maximum of 16 in the first Bill & Ted; as I have pointed out before, Michael J. Fox (who is awesome) said 'whoa' 22 times in the first Back to the Future (best movie ever). That's 6 whole more 'whoa's than Keanu, and yet for some reason no one has labelled him the whoa guy.

...I'm only deliberating on this point this much because it spawned the namesake of our website.

5) Keanu's alleged aboreal composition. I'm pretty sure that he is completely human, and not a tree, and/or made of wood. For a more in-depth argument, see the following:

"How Keanu is Not a Plank of Wood"

"How Keanu is Not a Tree"

"How Keanu is Not an Ent"

6) Keanu being American and ruining movies with his Americanness and lack of British accent. He's a dual citizen - Canadian-British. Posts whose entire main argument revolve around Keanu being American (mostly those by angry Hellblazer fans) are therefore - in short - rather odd.

7) Keanu trying to act his way out of a variety of interesting objects, such as paper bags. Joke only works if the premise is there, i.e. the assumption that Keanu is a bad actor. But there's no substantiation for that premise save the previous 6 points, all disproven.

(Though, playing safe as usual, here are the rebuttals for:

"Keanu can't act his way out of a paper bag"

"Keanu can't act his way out of a wet paper bag"

"Keanu can't act his way out of a perforated paper bag")

8) That Keanu ruined all the movies he was in. Many of his films would never even have gotten off the ground if not for Keanu. Like, say, The Matrix, and Thumbsucker. Or would never have got the high-profile costars and therefore the A-list status they did - The Replacements (Gene Hackman), A Scanner Darkly (Robert Downey Jr.), The Devil's Advocate (Al Pacino), actors who only joined the project either because Keanu deferred his salary towards them or because they were interested in working with him. Or would have been a completely different entity - Speed, the script of which was entirly rewritten. Or would have left out crucial bits - The Day the Earth Stood Still, which for all its flaws only retained the line 'Klaatu barada nikto' because Keanu insisted on it.

And the many other films (Feeling Minnesota, Sweet November, Hardball, etc) where Keanu fought to preserve their artistic integrity in the face of censorship, sometimes succeeding, sometimes failing (Johnny Mnemonic, which Tristar allegedly completely destroyed by editing it to become a wholly different film than the one intended.

For an example of how crucial editing can be and how much it can completely change a film, I present to you this (hilarious) alternate ending to Speed -> (and the other two versions linked there if you're interested).

9) Keanu surviving 20+ years in Hollywood based solely on his looks. Given the hundreds of pretty people constantly trying to edge their way into Hollywood, only to end up in C-movies where they make out, scream a lot and get eaten by CGI monsters to be forgotten forever, I don't know where they get this idea. Especially not for a career half as long as Keanu's. Hollywood is seriously competitive. If you don't make the cut, you're out. Ridiculously good-looking A-listers drop off the radar every year. Whereas Keanu has survived a quarter century in there, and is still going strong.

What makes this all the more aggravating are the whole lots of people all over the place (e.g. my mother) who swear that Keanu is located somewhere on the spectrum between below-average-looking to ugly. You lot, talk to the first lot. Thank you.

10) Keanu being some sort of filthy rich, spoilt, bimbotic, vain, egotistic movie star in written depictions of him that run so completely contrary to what anyone who has done the slightest bit of research on Keanu would know him to be like. And then they bash him based on these false constructs, fellow fish agreeing and patting each other on the back.

In counterargument,


So with all that gone, if everyone were to know and see for themselves that their points have all been disproven, what is left?

It's frustrating; we aren't defending Keanu against opinions, we're defending him against factually disprovable claims, the falsity of which should be so obvious to anyone who actually bothers to think about what they're writing and do the most basic of research. And yet it still proliferates.

And how does one argue against statements that go:

"he sucks lol"
"Worst actor ever"
"A cabbage could act better than Keanu lol"
"noooooooooo if keanu is in this i will kill myself"
"whoa, duuude, like... whoa."

When pressed, most of them just run away and take their senseless insults to another part of the Internet. It's a whole Keanu-bashing-culture that thrives on nothing more than persistent misconceptions and a bandwagon that, unfortunately, has no bomb on it.

And as I started off this post by saying - it's not just Keanu. It's everything else. Politics, religion, simple disagreements - so much of it is based on nothing more than complete and/or wilful ignorance of the other side, a lack of knowledge of what they are arguing about or against.

So many conflicts could be solved in this world if people actually bothered to find out the truth and hold it in higher regard than meaningless conjecture.

Because people do, ultimately, make sense. That's just buried beneath mounds of crap and a dogged persistence in believing that people who disagree with them are stupid and therefore must have stupid reasons to believe the things they do. And so they come up with those stupid reasons and then laugh at them as they knock the strawmen down, setting up and reinforcing walls where there had been none, digging divides deeper with every false statement, the other side then rushing to defend themselves with more false assumptions about that first side, and so it goes on and on in a stupid vicious cycle.

To make a couple of quick points related to this (if you're here for the Keanu, the Keanu is over, you may leave, thanks for dropping by, comments would be nice):

1) Nobody believes that "God put dinosaur bones into the Earth to trick us". Nobody. Well, maybe a handful, but only because for any given belief you can probably find at least one person who accepts it as fact. Either way, they are definitely not common, and definitely not representative of the entire Christian population (let alone the entire religious population). So far, the only people I hear this particular gem from are those out to show the supposed ridiculousness of religion, and make up things like that - often repeated from other sources, so it's not wholly their fault - despite no one actually believing those things.

2) Stem cells are not obtained by killing newborn babies or forced abortions. Currently, research is done with left-over embryos from fertilisation clinics that would otherwise be destroyed. It is disturbing how many debates on this topic somehow end up with one side vocally declaring that it is wrong to kill babies - which isn't even the issue at hand - while the other side attempts to look cool and calm and go on about the scientific merits of stem cell research. And nobody bothers to correct the first group, nobody bothers to realise that anyone who was told that stem cells are obtained by murder would naturally feel some revulsion to the whole thing, because it's always more fun to laugh at people.

3) Screw this.

Good night everyone.

Last point - Star Trek 2009 is awesome, if you haven't seen it, watch it.


Ruthie said...

Good point and well expressed. I would suggest two possible reasons a number of people continue to dish the false information: it is easy and it is what they want to believe. People like bandwagons and soapboxes. People like to belong to a cause. It is so much easier to accept something you are told and jump up and repeat than it is to develop critical thinking skills and a brain of your own. Now the question is: are most people like this or are the ones who refuse to grow a brain just louder than everyone else?

Mrs De said...

I hardly ever feel the need to post comments in anyone's blog but I have read the website's defense of this poor beleaguered actor and I have to say that I agree with you completely. Much thanks for all the research and the hard work. This actor is clearly very intellectual and I am sure he would appreciate the sophistication of the website.

Rizwan said...

I disagree to an extent. Yes, people point out too many flaws, but his skills compared to Al Pacino in The Devil's Advocate does have differences. He gives us viewers a feeling that there is a barrier which he just cannot cross. If he was to be cast on, American Psycho, would he really go above and beyond to be a psycho like Christian Bale did? He is a decent actor, as he is watchable in many movies. He does laugh and have other expressions, but lacks a depth to him which can enable us to understand his character. Up to a certain extent it's not his fault. Maybe that's what he is. I have seen people like him in real life who feel animated, and unreal. If that is the case, then improving his skills takes more work. Other than that, he has a very likable look, and personality to him, that clicked well in movies like "The Matrix". He amazed us with a performance, that even Will Smith back then was not too confident about. Will Smith was offered the role, but he dropped out, as he was still in his early stages of acting. He is also an intellect as he has done Shakespearean plays, including Hamlet, for which he received praises. He is fabulous but in his own unique way.

Josh said...

I've always enjoyed Keanu's action and spec films, and while Constantine and Day the Earth Stood Still had plenty of suck, I don't believe it was his fault in either case.

I am really looking forward to seeing his Cowboy Bebop, which he is championing. At first I was hesitant, as it's a fantastic work, but reading him talk about why he was doing it and discussing his love of anime sold me. Should be loads of fun, assuming he practices Jeet Kune Do sufficiently.

As to your non-Keanu points, I'd point out that the "God put it all there to challenge our faith" people are usually trying to explain a literal acceptance of 7 Days of creation equals 7 Days as we know them thing. Even among other fundamentalists, there's usually a discussion that it's unlikely that God created evidence of millions of years of history for us to understand with our logic and reason and then buried it all on a world he made 6,000 years ago. Many more Christians, including fundamentalists, simply feel God set evolution in motion and specifically designed man, possibly multiple times (see the theory of two creations of Man in Genesis).

As for Stem Cell research, opponents I'm aware of seem more concerned that it is creating the potential for abortion farming, as it were, or a culture where life is devalued even further (in their estimation, wherein abortions are usually already seen as destruction of innocent life), and where man's hubris for controlling everything leads him to greater and greater atrocities made pretty in the name of science. (Such as the common sci-fi theme of cloned organs and cloned organ farms, i.e. living humans who are later harvested.) Many of the people opposed accept other scientific advances readily, but they abhor the lack of "humanity" in treating what they see as a human life as just a mass of cells to be thrown away or used. Much of it is fear mongering and ignorance, but as you point out, proponents are typically either dismissive, or spend their time demonizing those who disagree with them as zealots and morons instead of trying to present the facts.