Kevin Smith Can Be Quite Lovable
It is for that reason he was the co-host for the Dawn of the Justice League, network television event advertising DC’s coming slate and included on every BvS disc. He hosted the Yahoo! Movies release of Man of Steel. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve referenced him on my show either for his Jon Peters story or Suicide Squad or more! He is a comic book store owner, host of Fat Man on Batman, and his transparent Everyman quality gives him substantial geek cred.
As an Everyman he’s as susceptible to falsehoods and clickbait as everyone.
On November 29th, Kevin Smith published the following Fat Man on Batman episode (skip to 1h56m):
Upset at the alterations to Justice League, Kevin pulls up a website and shares 22 alleged alterations to Zack’s original vision.
The only problem? They’re not real. Not exactly.
Kevin is not affirming any of this to be true. He doesn’t know. He just bookmarked a wordpress post that merely parrots (with minor alterations, editorial, and without attribution) a /r/DCEULeaks post published November 18, which was promptly discredited and deleted. Unfortunately, not before obtaining traction online being republished on other clickbait outlets like Nerdist, etc. (com’on guys, do better!)
The redditor’s post history is telling. It’s filled with inaccuracies, inconsistencies, and the same kind of vague attempts at teasing and disclosures which get used in cold readings for fraud psychics and spiritualists who prey on the hopes and pain of others… only a lot less deftly and readily apparent. Nonetheless, the timing is telling, let’s break it down:
- October 19, 2017 – ViewerAnon’s 54-point plot breakdown.
- November 13, 2017 – US Fan Screenings of Justice League.
- November 17, 2017 – US Justice League release date.
- November 17, 2017 – Ultracal31’s 2,138-word leak (“changed, deleted and Snyder vs Whedon”).
- November 17, 2017 – Ultracal31’s leak is corroborated by ViewerAnon.
- November 18, 2017 – Original 21-point “Differences” and immediately debunked.
- November 18, 2017 – Ultracal31 debunks “Differences”.
- November 19, 2017 – TheAscendedAncient leaks footage debunking “Differences”.
- November 19, 2017 – The wordpress site that Kevin reads posts “Differences”.
- November 22, 2017 – The Nerdist publishes a video based on “Differences”.
- November 24, 2017 – LDN_Film is moderator verified and does an AMA debunking “Differences”.
- November 24, 2017 – The wordpress site edits “Differences” to remove debunked parts and add LDN_Film points.
- November 29, 2017 – Kevin reads wordpress version of “Differences” on Fat Man on Batman.
What am I getting at? “Differences” is illegitimate. It comes after theatrical release and is based entirely on information already known or fabricated guesses. It sources ViewerAnon’s breakdown, Ultracal31’s two-thousand-word leak, the litany of pre-release press and promo materials, and general (largely wrong) assumptions about Zack Snyder’s inclinations, intentions, proclivities, and style (with a sprinkling of studio or fan mandated “fixes”). Except to the extent it draws from accurate sources, none of the original material is real, true, or truthful. It is a guess.
Outside of its elaboration on information we already knew before November 18, it provides no insight, nothing verified, nothing corroborated, and is- frankly- a lie.
This shouldn’t have to be said, but just because a celebrity reads a website aloud doesn’t “confirm”, verify, substantiate, or corroborate the content. Kevin didn’t fact check. He has no source. He doesn’t know. He just took a wordpress post to be true and gave it 60,000+ more eyes than the 80,000 views Nerdist gave it one week earlier.
Alleged Audience Confirmation
What about the audience member allegedly breaking NDA to affirm what Kevin was reading off? To us, she is faceless, nameless, and impossible to verify or authenticate in any meaningful way. If you have an ounce of skepticism you have cause to doubt some random person alleging inside knowledge. Nonetheless, even taking her at face value, what did she really say?
- 2h5m31s – “I promised them I wouldn’t talk today, but um, yeah. Most of that stuff was in there.”
- 2h5m37s – “That’s the version that you saw?” / “I saw that and I saw the other version too.”
- 2h5m45s – “In terms of seeing them both, what did you think?” / “Um, I like the first one better.”
- 2h6m21s – “You saw Darkseid?” / “Yes, there was a Darkseid in there. Kind of like the finished, but not really.”
- 2h6m28s – “Not fully finished?” / “No, dressed in a suit kinda.”
- 2h6m35s – “Steppenwolf is killed by Darkseid on Apokolips.” / “That, I did not see.”
- 2h7m15s – “Did Cyborg die in your version?” / “No.”
I have to say, I don’t find this audience member credible. It’s an old cross-examination standby but we use it because it works: “Ma’am, were you being truthful and honest when you signed your NDA? Were you being truthful and honest when you promised you wouldn’t talk last week? So now that you’re talking we see that your word, integrity, and honesty mean nothing. So all you need is attention to break a contract, to break your word, to break a promise… so how much attention do you need to bend the truth if not outright lie?” She lacks the integrity to keep a contract and is willing to break it for attention… who is to say she’s not willing to lie for attention too?
The real sticking point is the Darkseid stuff where she says, “a Darkseid”, “kind of like the finished”, and “dressed in a suit.” There aren’t multiple Darkseids so it would never be “a Darkseid”, there isn’t a finished or final Darkseid in the theatrical cut so how could she compare her alleged version to the non-existent “kind of like the finished” version? And I’m not going to elaborate on how Darkseid would be represented in unfinished VFX but it would be… unusual… to describe it as “dressed in a suit” whilst knowing it was “a” Darkseid. She was rather unconvincing.
Remember, this is November 29th. “Differences” has been disseminated since November 18th and what if the audience member was one of the 80,000 people who watched it on Nerdist or other outlets already, believed it to be legitimate, and simply parroted it here pretending to be an authentic insider? In theory, nothing she says proves she is someone who saw a screening (that even the author of “Differences” claims was WB Executive exclusive contradicting her!) versus an attention-desperate person who read a rumor they believed and claimed as their own inside knowledge. It is impossible to tell if she is repeating an earlier rumor or her own actual experience from what little she shared. Nothing new, original, specific, or testable.
Even If True She Debunks “Differences”
All that said, pretend she’s absolutely 100% honest to the best of her ability. She’s confirmed nothing from “Differences”, not a single specific point or element or enumerated thing is corroborated by her answers. Only vague, broad, sweeping incomplete generalizations! “Most of that stuff was in there” not “Everything you said is exactly how it was.” That makes it impossible to verify any individual list item because we don’t know if it is included in “most of that stuff” or not, rending the list worthless.
If she’s being truthful and if “Differences” is based off of legitimate leaks prior to November 18th, I should hope that some of the stuff was in there! We should expect it! That doesn’t legitimize or confirm Differences, only the reliable sources it drew upon, it doesn’t make the list itself reliable.
Instead, when confronted with specific, enumerated, explicitly listed items from “Differences”, she denies seeing them! If she’s reliable and truthful, she says Steppenwolf isn’t killed on Apokolips and Cyborg didn’t die, in direct contradiction to “Differences”. How desperate do you have to be to start pushing “Differences” as Zack’s vision given it is completely uncorroborated and the sole source of authority explicitly debunks the only two explicitly unique points related to it? Why would you push “Differences” when it has been contradicted and debunked by verified insiders, our own eyes, the author’s lack of credibility, etc. when we have a wealth of legitimate information to draw from?
What’s the Harm?
Well, even if it isn’t true what’s the harm in promoting it, sharing it, and insisting upon it? So what if an unsubstantiated rumor gets passed around? Why can’t we have our fantasy or ignite outrage and action over a fantasy?
Integrity and Values
If you’re asking these questions, we part ways on a fundamental level in terms of values. Yes, in some sense fantasy is harmless. However, irresponsible dissemination of misinformation, the failure to fact-check, the valuing of sensation over integrity, honesty, and truth… getting in the habit of this over leisure leaks into how you live your real life. One of the reason we love comics, mythology, and stories is because they provide the narratives we use to frame and order our lives. But if we don’t value truth, journalistic integrity, honesty, critical thinking, and empathy, we will fail to recognize falsehoods and get swept up in illegitimate narratives all too easily.
What If It’s False?
But setting aside your own integrity and character, let’s do a balancing test or Pascal’s Wager. Let’s imagine that I’m right and “Differences” does not accurately reflect Zack Snyder’s version of the film. If you respond to, fight for, promote, insist upon, and get outraged over “Differences” and it isn’t Zack’s film then what are you fighting for, getting upset over, and what message are you sending?
The people who know- I mean really, actually, truly know what Zack’s film would have been compared to “Differences”- now know you don’t actually care about Zack’s film which is something else entirely. They have no reason to admit, disclose, or release something that doesn’t match what the ill-informed are clamoring for. It ends up being an insult to the people who worked on the earlier vision because people keep saying “Man, we should have got Differences!” while the filmmakers hang their heads and think, “But our film wasn’t that Differences nonsense!” It’s an open declaration there’s no market for the actual and authentic thing. People would rather have the fantasy they’ve conjured.
What If It’s True?
Conversely, let’s say I’m wrong. What is so different about Differences that you can’t simply promote all the authenticated, established, verified, corroborated, proven, known, and seen differences between the advertising, promotional, leaked, mentioned in print / press / interviews / junkets, social media hints, etc. omissions and changes that we know and can prove that it’s indispensable?
Is it Cyborg’s death debunked by Kevin’s audience member? Is it Darkseid debunked by LDN_Film? Is it Perry debunked by Laurence Fishburne? Is it because the author of Differences lacks the imagination to make the first scene of the film anything but the first scene in the trailers? Are we really losing anything discarding the discredited Differences and instead relying upon all the other authenticated information even if Differences magically turns out to be true? No. Seeking to rely on more credible facts because you value truth, honesty, and integrity is never a mistake.