In recent years, political commentator Ben Shapiro has become somewhat of an internet sensation thanks to the clickbait titles conjured up by his video editors. Well-known in the meme community for his banal maxim of “facts don’t care about your feelings”, Shapiro has established himself as a ‘debate bro’ by infiltrating college campuses where he is unwanted and proving that he is a First Amendment hero by challenging uninformed college kids.
When he is not exploiting the YouTube algorithm, Shapiro spends his time dreaming of making movies. Although both his parents worked in Hollywood, Shapiro couldn’t manage to get a job as a screenwriter and claimed that he was blacklisted by liberals for his conservative politics which immediately prompted him to write a book titled Primetime Propaganda about the prejudice against conservatives in mainstream media.
Shapiro’s media outlet, The Daily Wire, made a relatively recent attempt to enter the world of cinema by distributing a conservative action thriller called Run Hide Fight which has been described as “fundamentally tasteless”. After taking a look at some of Shapiro’s opinions about cinema, the same can be said of the divisive commentator himself.
Check out a list of 10 filmmakers that Ben Shapiro once labelled as overrated, including widely celebrated names who have contributed immensely to the evolution of cinema over the years.
Ben Shapiro’s terrible list of the 10 most overrated directors:
10. Ridley Scott
English filmmaker Ridley Scott is recognised by many as one of the pioneers of the science fiction genre, responsible for the creations of masterpieces like Alien and Blade Runner. He is known for the construction of impeccable cinematic atmospheres and the use of specific visual styles, resulting in pure sci-fi magic.
Shapiro’s blasphemous and downright laughable insights include stating that “Alien is slow” and “GI Jane is hysterically terrible.”
Shapiro continues: “Plus, it’s got Orlando Bloom, who has about as much charisma and credibility as Al Gore. Scott is a key player in the rise of the infernal shaky-cam, which is not only biologically inaccurate (the human eye adjusts for bodily movements), but incredibly annoying. For that alone, he should be exiled to a land without cameras.”
9. Michael Mann
Michael Mann’s influence on the crime drama genre is undeniable, inspiring newer generations of filmmakers with brilliant films like Heat. He has been named as one of the greatest directors of his time by publications like Sight and Sound as well as Entertainment Weekly.
However, Shapiro disagrees with the consensus and refuses to explain why except with the reductive statement of “all style, no substance.” In a visual art-form like cinema, style is a major part of the substance but that’s probably just liberal propaganda for Mr. Shapiro.
8. David Lean
It’s baffling how the man who made The Bridge on the River Kwai and Lawrence of Arabia ends up on this list but that seems to be the theme anyway. David Lean’s work inspired the likes of Stanley Kubrick and Steven Spielberg but it was not good enough for Shapiro.
“Everything Lean made is too long by at least half an hour,” Shapiro commented. “I know it’s mortal sin to suggest that Laurence of Arabia, Dr. Zhivago, The Bridge on the River Kwai, and Ryan’s Daughter are anything less than masterpieces, but … they’re all less than masterpieces. Great Expectations was good. Everything else was downhill.”
7. Darren Aronofsky
Known for his unsettling investigations of the human psyche, Aronofsky has established himself as a top contemporary directorial talent. Pi and Requiem for a Dream are modern masterpieces which translate the horrors of the human condition to the cinematic medium.
Shapiro wrote: “Aronofsky is a talentless dud who has bamboozled his way into Hollywood upper echelon. Every film he’s ever made is a disaster. Pi is a jumble of nonsense that starts nowhere and goes nowhere. It may be the worst film ever made. Watching it made me want to rip out my own retinas, then replace them through surgery, then rip them out again.”
6. Mike Nichols
One of the pioneers of the American New Wave, Mike Nichols managed to incorporate the vulnerability of the theatre into the distinctive visual grammar of cinema. He was the recipient of an Academy Award, multiple Emmys and BAFTAs as well as prestigious lifetime achievement awards.
Here is what Shapiro had to say about Nichols’ magnum opus: “The Graduate is contemptible and snort-worthy spoiled 1960s-child angst. The ending of that movie alone makes it unworthy of human viewing. All future directors take note: having your main characters staring blankly into nothingness is not an ending. It is a cop out. Nichols’ directorial style is ordinary and he picks bland material. And he was an icon for the Baby Boomers. If that’s not a sign of their mental disturbance, I don’t know what is.”
5. David Lynch
Often referred to as “the first popular surrealist”, the influence of David Lynch’s artistic vision on the world of cinema is unparalleled. With seminal works like Eraserhead and Mulholland Drive, Lynch showed the world how to build cinematic universes with the surreal logic of dreams.
“Pure and absolute suckage, with the exception of The Elephant Man,” Shapiro insisted. “Lynch is one of those annoyingly ‘deep’ directors we [are] all supposed to puzzle over. Forget it. There’s nothing worth puzzling. He’s as empty as they come, and he makes up for it with graphic sex scenes, just like his imitator, Aronofsky.”
4. Quentin Tarantino
Over the course of his career, Tarantino has been accused of mindlessly stealing from his predecessors multiple times and Shapiro’s evaluation is no different. It does not do justice to Tarantino’s incisive subversions of cinematic conventions as well as his postmodern interpretations of the obsolescence of morality.
Shapiro had relatively kind words for the filmmaker: “He is a gifted high school child given a camera for his birthday, and entranced with his knowledge of cinema. Which means, in simple terms, he doesn’t know how to tell a story. His films are Wagnerian: long periods of boredom and ‘artistic’ violence punctuated by moments of utter brilliance.”
3. Woody Allen
Woody Allen would be the first person to agree with Shapiro’s description of the filmmaker. All those who admire his work agree that Allen is pretentious but it is in those self-reflexive ramblings and metafictional excursions that Allen creates something truly special.
“He’s pretentious and unbearable,” Shapiro complained. “His movies are like nails screeching on a chalkboard, only with less humour. He is as nerdy as Peter Orszag, but he acts out his fantasies and illuminates his insecurities in film and expects us all to watch.”
2. Martin Scorsese
The inclusion of Martin Scorsese on this list is enough evidence that Shapiro does not know what he is talking about. Like a child, he labels the grotesque realism of masterpieces like Raging Bull and Mean Streets as gross without bothering to examine the sociocultural implications of such depictions.
Shapiro claimed: “Raging Bull is gross. Mean Streets is gross and soporific. Taxi Driver is perhaps the most overrated film in Hollywood history — dreary, grungy, and subzero. Scorsese has never seen a main character he liked, a villain he hated, or a pair of editing scissors.”
1. Alfred Hitchcock
Alfred Hitchcock’s contribution to the evolution of cinema is incalculable. His works inspired the rise of the French New Wave and urged filmmakers to approach the visual language of films in a completely different manner. The auteur theory revolved around figures like Hitchcock and Orson Welles but Shapiro considers the Master of Suspense to be painfully mediocre.
“He’s not even close to the worst on the list, but he’s certainly the most overrated. He never made a great film. He was the Stephen King of the silver screen: he made films with great premises, but he never knew where to go from there,” Shapiro said. “If you want to see good Hitchcock, rent Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Restricted to the one hour medium, he’s at his best. Left to his own devices, he’s slightly better than mediocre.”