Opinion OP/ED: As a Public Service to Critics and Would Be Critics, Some Alternatives to the Word “Dark” written by Robert Reineke March 19, 2016 Reviews are being written as I type this. But, I’d like to address a pet peeve of mine, the overuse of the word “dark” to the point where it no longer means anything specific in the critical lexicon. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary cites several different uses of the word such as: 1 a : devoid or partially devoid of light : not receiving, reflecting, transmitting, or radiating light <a dark room> b : transmitting only a portion of light <dark glasses> 2 a : wholly or partially black <dark clothing> b of a color : of low or very low lightness c : being less light in color than other substances of the same kind <dark rum> 3 a : arising from or showing evil traits or desires : evil <the dark powers that lead to war> b : dismal, gloomy <had a dark view of the future> c : lacking knowledge or culture : unenlightened <a dark period in history> d : relating to grim or depressing circumstances <dark humor> 4 a : not clear to the understanding b : not known or explored because of remoteness <the darkest reaches of the continent> 5 : not fair in complexion : swarthy 6 : secret <kept his plans dark> 7 : possessing depth and richness <a dark voice> 8 : closed to the public <the theater is dark in the summer> It’s a word with many meanings. And, why saying “such and such movie is dark” isn’t necessarily telling us much without specific context. I don’t want to suggest a moratorium on use of the word, but rather I suggest that we all think about what we’re actually trying to say when we use that word and I’m going to suggest some more specific phrases, that may or may not apply to an upcoming release, that communicate ideas better than that much overused word. Such as: shadowy dimly lit set primarily at night noir-ish contains muted colors morally complex unjust grotesque ugly violent explores man’s inhumanity to man cynical explores man’s animal, violent nature corrupt argues humanity is prone to blindly follow what they perceive as leaders argues the media is corrupt argues the media is ineffective argues politics is corrupt argues the government is ineffective argues the world is prone to chaos argues humanity is made up of predators and victims argues that people are inherently hypocritical argues that people are inherently flawed argues that the world is full of bigots argues that humanity is xenophobic argues that religion is flawed argues that we’re all alone in the universe faithless joyless sadistic argues that people are inherently self-interested above all else rejects love argues that superheroes are inherently facsist argues that superheroes would be inherently ineffective hopeless untrusting Well, I’m sure you get the idea by now. Feel free to add your own words and phrases. My main point though is that we shouldn’t rely on the use of the word “dark” as a crutch when there are better phrases out there. And, perhaps, next time we’re tempted to use that word we should think twice and make a better choice. OP/ED: As a Public Service to Critics and Would Be Critics, Some Alternatives to the Word “Dark” was last modified: March 19th, 2016 by Robert Reineke Related 3 comments 0 Facebook Twitter Google + Pinterest Robert Reineke previous post ‘Chris Evans’ Reacts To Seeing CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR! next post Weekly Ratings Roundup: March 13 to 19, 2016 You may also like Op-Ed: THE CHANGING GENESIS OF THE MAN... January 11, 2012 The Politics of BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN... April 8, 2016 10 Pieces of Advice for Making a... June 7, 2013 JOE KUBERT – IN MEMORIAM August 13, 2012 A Justice League of Their Own, Part... September 16, 2012 Why I’m Wary of Overhype for STAR... October 22, 2015 A Justice League of Their Own, Part... August 28, 2012 The World Needs Superman…Almost as Much as... January 27, 2012 Superhero Cinema 101: Embracing Versatility with Professors... May 11, 2012 Death by Editorial: The Great Action Comics... April 3, 2013 Adrian Edmondson I agree . The word “dark” is soooooo overused its comical . stock How about macabre, nihilistic, heartless? Personally, I like dark as a descriptor because I like a lot of flicks that could be considered dark, and even have many of the qualities of your alternate list. I don’t like nihilism, though. I’m guessing the advance word on BvS is dark. If it’s good, I won’t mind. stock I do wonder how real world “darkness” like we woke up to today will affect the possible audience for films like BvS. So far, previews for the film seem, shall we say, gloomy. Part of this is to differentiate it from its main competition, Marvel, but some of it began with its depiction of Supes in MOS. Timing isn’t the only thing, but it is a big thing, and people’s appetites might lean toward lighter fare if the situation on the ground deteriorates further. I hope it doesn’t. We will see it, but will it attract the broader movie going audience? I hope it at least ends on an up note. I don’t need the SuperFriends, “Hail good fellow, well met,” but, I don’t need oppressively gloomy either. I liked this exchange in one of the animated flicks– Batman to Supes: You need to lose the sense of humor. Supes: You need to go buy one. Comic timing would be a plus here, I think.