I've been meaning to purchase and wear this t-shirt since I learned of its existence a couple of months ago, but I figured I'd better let the Twilight: New Moon hysteria die down first. It would appear, after all, that openly declaring one's hostility toward the Twilight franchise on one's person, even with a statement as unquestionably correct as "Vampires Don't Sparkle," is just asking for trouble. You do not want to mess with a gaggle of rabid Robert Pattinson fans.
I do not hate the Twilight franchise, actually, though I would like to suggest that the Twilighteers may live to regret sinking so much time and emotion into something so utterly banal. But I seem to be one of the few who occupy the middle ground. Twilight might be the most divisive love-it-or-hate-it phenomenon of the last few years. Not everyone adores Harry Potter, but most people have at least a grudging respect for it; Twilight has as many haters as fawning admirers.
You gotta admit that if you can use a movie to start an argument, it's at least good for something. Here are seven other movies that seem to disproportionately divide the moviegoing population into adoring fans and angry detractors.
1. Titanic - To get the obvious out of the way. It's amazing to me how often people make offhand derisive mentions of Titanic, as if its awfulness were well-established and self-evident. As with Twilight, of course, the surprisingly widespread disdain of this movie is a backlash against its army of obsessive partisans (and from a similar demographic to boot) -- the folks who showed up on local news shows in 1997 bragging about having seen it 16 times in the theater, etc. The fact that Titanic is a fantastic film -- and not really (or at least not only) for the reasons many of its fans think -- tends to get lost in the shuffle, sadly.
2. Event Horizon - This may seem an odd choice, but Event Horizon is one of the very few films I have repeatedly seen pop up in some folks' best-of-all-time (or best-horror-of-all-time) lists and other folks' worst-of-all-time lists. Why this spacebound chiller inspires such divergent reactions I'm not sure, though I think people respond differently to the movie veering sharply away from science-fiction and toward horror in the third act.
3. The Blair Witch Project - This one is simple: if you were told this was the "scariest movie of all time," you probably came away disappointed, if not pissed off. The movie's scary in the sense that mounting frustration and desperation can be scary; it's mostly psychological. (Oh, and I've always thought the ending was frightening in the good old-fashioned way folks were hoping for.) The Blair Witch Project was cursed by high expectations; reading some more recent reactions to the (in fairness, much scarier) Paranormal Activity makes me think it's ultimately headed for a similar fate.
4. Natural Born Killers - Some people see a scathing indictment of a sensationalist media that makes celebrities out of criminals. Others -- including me, I fear -- see a grotesque freak show. That may have been the point (the nightly news is also a grotesque freak show, you might say), but I can't get past the fact that the movie is unpleasant and repulsive to the point of being nearly unwatchable. Oliver Stone fans beg to differ.
5. Transformers and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen - I don't know how many people out there adore Michael Bay's Transformers flicks, but this is definitely one franchise that shoves a wedge between cinephiles and everyone else, as evidenced by the astronomical returns and universal critical pans for the second film. People who see ten movies a year tend to dig the battling robot showcase, and can get pretty upset if you express that Revenge of the Fallen is one of the worst things you've ever seen.
6. The Matrix Reloaded - The Matrix and The Matrix Revolutions are pretty non-controversial -- a few dissenters notwithstanding, the former is pretty universally liked, and the latter disliked. The middle installment is more problematic. Technically dazzling and conceptually intriguing (I still love the Architect scene) but ultimately unsatisfying (especially since the third film didn't follow through on virtually anything the second one suggested), Reloaded now seems to earn equal parts mockery and admiration.
7. Dogville - You would think that Antichrist would be a better Lars von Trier movie to put on this list, but it's funny: Antichrist certainly has its supporters and detractors, but even those who admire it acknowledge that it's essentially a sick joke. Not so much Dogville, which is loved and despised with equal seriousness. It's certainly confounding.