So here’s the thing. I’m pretty sure Cynthia Hawkins is a nice person. In Cynthia’s piece “The Movie Formerly Known as Avatar,” I can really appreciate her reporting from the Avatar: The Last Airbender hysteria in her living room. I mean, as it happens, I have a nine-year-old who just now put her grandmother on hold so that she could watch the last ten minutes of Book Three. But — and no disrespect here — I could practically hear Cynthia’s big-eyed blinks of innocence as I read the rest of her review.

For instance, I heard them right around the time that she made this point: “If [Shyamalan] pulls it off, he’s set for the next installment and perhaps a clean cinematic slate at last.” I’m just wondering if, when Cynthia typed this sentence, the tumbleweeds had yet to blow in and skim across her shoes in the big, vast aloneness in which she was about to find herself. I mean, it’s kind of cute the way she thinks that there’s an “if.” And I feel a little bit sorry to be the one to point this out, but everyone else — and I mean everyone (even Drunk Hulk)  — clambered, frothy-mouthed, to lob something sharp at M. Night Shyamalan’s head on the occasion of The Last Airbender’s release.

At least Cynthia is aware of the fact that most critics and a big segment of the movie-going public had written Shyamalan off somewhere around Signs, and that Shyamalan was setting himself up for further scrutiny in taking on the beloved Nickelodeon series. But wow. Cynthia seems to be completely ignorant of the extent to which this man is reviled. Look, plenty of films deserve a pitchfork gathering of the masses, but even they don’t garner the kind of collective rage that awaited M. Night Shyamalan for The Last Airbender. We’re talking a ginormous, horizon-blinding, boat scuttling wave of sheer vitriol.

Rotten TomatoesThe Last Airbender page is like a Shyamalan roast without the funny. Only eight percent of the reviews gave a positive rating. Roger Ebert wrote: “The Last Airbender is an agonizing experience in every category I can think of and others still waiting to be invented.” Random fans weighed in: “Shyamaladingong, you suck! You ruin everything you touch! Fuck you!” Drunk Hulk tweeted: “DRUNK HULK FIGURE OUT WHAT TWIST IS! M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN CAREER WAS DEAD WHOLE TIME!” To read such reviews, as well as the blogs and the tweets and so forth, you’d think Shyamalan had filmed himself taking a dump on the feet of Christ or something. But that’s the way it is, and how Cynthia failed to understand this beforehand is a mystery.

A wave of vitriol, and there’s Cynthia, tossing out a few positives, saying things that amount to, “You can do it M. Night Shyamalan! I know you can!” Like the last kid on the block who still believes in Santa when everyone else is trying to tell her that Santa is really Uncle Leo on a bender with a bag of lead-laden cheap shit he’d pocketed in the Dollar General. Who am I to decide whether or not Cynthia should align her opinions with the masses? What I am saying, however, is that Cynthia may want to consult Drunk Hulk more frequently before she purports to know what the masses think about anything.

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TNB Arts and Culture Editor CYNTHIA HAWKINS teaches creative writing at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Most of what she thinks she knows comes from movies, including how to tango, how to take someone down with a ballpoint pen, how to curse in French, and how to catch a moving train. Her work, on movies and otherwise, has appeared in literary journals and magazines such as ESPN the Magazine, Parent:Wise Magazine, The Good Men Project, New World Writing, Strange Horizons, and numerous alternative weeklies and anthologies. You can find Cynthia on Twitter and at cynthiahawkins.net.

13 responses to “Even Drunk Hulk Says So”

  1. dwoz says:

    Stick to your guns!

    There’s always a chance that he would do something good, even by complete random accident.

  2. Uche Ogbuji says:

    Wow. When I teased Greg Olear about “escherizing” TNB in the wake of the whole Daly/Diamond affair, and his follow-up meta, I had no idea that it could indeed get more meta-tastic. Bravo! 🙂

    Not sure whether to respond to the meta, the meta meta, or the meta to the third, but I’ll mention that every time I walked by my ten year old watching the Avatar series, I’d be hooked, and many times I ended up sitting down next to him to watch. I’m planning to watch the whole thing if/when I can afford the time. It seems a brilliant adventure with a very compelling mythology and wide-ranging imagination. So obviously I considered watching the movie. And I ran into the same vitriol-coated wall of rottentomatoes reviews as you did. Wondering whether it was just typical killjoy critic reviews I also checked the community reviews, and I saw a lot of people specifically pointing out reasons why the movie disappointed lovers of the animated series. Didn’t take me long to decide against it. Which is too bad because I guess that means I’ll have to wait for Predators to see my first film in about 5 months.

    • Meta-tastic! Thanks! This was born out of a rather comical, margarita-fueled conversation on the subject and is exhibit A as to why my family should hide my computer from me sometimes (whoever edited this in the wee hours, bless you!). I’m looking forward to Predators as well. I saw Predator, sans “s,” so many times I can still quote from it.

  3. Art Edwards says:

    Bravo, Cynthia! Thank God somebody finally called out Cynthia Hawkins on her Pollyanna bullshit.

    Off to interview Cynthia Hawkins,


  4. Ah, Drunk Hulk…how is it you so effortlessly sum my innermost thoughts? My feeling is that there will, despite receipts, always be more air to bend.

  5. Signs wasn’t bad. But I read a report from TMZ that said Mel Gibson told the alien that before he had his brother knock his head off with a baseball bat, the alien would have to blow him [Gibson] first. He also said the alien was a gay, black Jew. But, you know, that’s hearsay as far as I’m concerned. Do you know if Gibson is in The Last Airbender. I saw a preview only last night.

  6. Simon Smithson says:

    Cynthia Hawkins, you’re such a bitch. Please leave that nice Cynthia Hawkins alone.

  7. […] She’s written critical essays on Inception, Please Give, the Robert Duvall effect, the Academy Award nominees for Best Soundtrack, the movie formerly known as Avatar, and her own critical essay on the movie formerly known as Avatar. […]

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