There are certain pop culture people who are fun to hate, and it’s an activity that the Internet is particularly suited for. The Kardashians, Bieber, and Nickelback are just a few popular targets. I don’t pay much attention to those debates, because if I’m being honest, why waste any energy hating people when I can just ignore them? What’s that quote? “The opposite of love isn’t hate, it’s indifference.” Something like that. But there are a few people who get shit on and don’t deserve it, and I’ve appointed myself the official intercessor. That’s right, I’m telling you folks to cut it out.
1. Michael Bay
I can’t get on my Michael Bay soapbox often enough. Sure, “Pearl Harbor” wasn’t great, but it wasn’t a travesty. The second, third, and soon to be released fourth “Transformers” are just pure cash grabs, but the man understands cinematic energy and is a visual genius. Seriously, go back and watch his pre-Autobots work just evaluating the pure look of it. It’s stunningly beautiful. Everyone talks about how he falls into the “make super quick cuts and edit it so we don’t see the flaws in the action sequences” category, but that’s a vast overstatement. He has a kinetic style that perfectly suits the movies he makes. People also dismiss his films story-wise as superficial garbage, which I don’t understand. Making a good popcorn flick is significantly more difficult than making an indie drama about a guy whose family “just doesn’t get him.” Michael Bay’s best work is a perfect example of how to make a good blockbuster. Both of the “Bad Boys” movies, “Armageddon,” “Pain and Gain,” the first “Transformers,” and most importantly “The Rock” are fun, smart, entertaining movies. He’s not an adolescent, testosterone-fueled man-boy blowing his toys up for fun–he’s a shrewd, visually stunning filmmaker who has more talent on his worst day than every schlubby film critic who hates him combined.
2. LeBron James
I won’t lie, I went through my LeBron hating phase. “The Decision” was a horrible, horrible PR move, and he and Dwayne Wade (who I will hate until the universe collapses on itself) were arrogant dicks during their finals series against my beloved Dallas Mavericks. Thankfully, LeBron and company ultimately and gloriously lost. But give the man credit–after that defeat, he put his head down and powered through. He changed the things about his game that were real weaknesses and improved on the stuff he was already good at. He’s now a weird Magic/Jordan hybrid who’s probably the most efficient offensive player ever. He’s also the undisputed greatest basketball player currently playing the game on Earth.
Plus, if you go back and look at his supposed “betrayal” of Cleveland, you’ll see that he was actually well within his rights to leave. Despite having the best player in the league, they constantly surrounded him with scrubs and gave him no say in how the team was put together. On top of that, they stuck him with Mike Brown, who couldn’t set up a competent offense if his team was the Globetrotters playing the Washington Generals, who are literally paid to let them score whenever they want. The Decision was stupid, but his decision wasn’t.
3. One Direction
A little more than two years ago, my brother (who has impeccable taste in music) sent me a link to a new song called “What Makes You Beautiful” by a band I’d never heard of. I liked it. In fact, I liked it so much that I put it on one of my famous mix CDs. I had no clue who One Direction was, that they were huge in the UK, and that they were starting to gain popularity here. Now, all I see online is unmitigated hate for them, and to be honest, it makes no sense to me. I mean, I do get the “I’m so above the concept of liking popular things” part. But it’s not like these guys are unredeemable douchebags like the Biebs. They seem to be pretty charming, cool dudes who don’t take themselves too seriously. I’m going to be honest. Some of their music videos are actually pretty funny, and they make fun of themselves all the time. I’ll grant that I don’t listen to them all that often, but that’s because their style isn’t geared to my age group in the first place. My point is, you can’t ride the nostalgia train with ‘N Sync and the Backstreet Boys one moment and then shit on One Direction the next. It makes no logical sense.
4. Tom Cruise
This is the one that rustles my jimmies the most. Tom Cruise has been putting in MVP-worthy effort for three decades now, and no one appreciates him for it. The dude never takes a possession off. Seriously, I dare you to name one movie where he’s obviously just mailing in his performance. I know he’s not Daniel Day Lewis. He may never win an Oscar (although a heavy argument could have been made for his turn in “Magnolia”) but he’s a national treasure, nonetheless. Sure, he’s basically Tom Cruise in every movie, but holy shit is he good at it. I don’t even get how that’s a flaw. Humphrey Bogart was always Humphrey Bogart. The Duke was always The Duke. Tom Hanks is always Tom Hanks, and we love them for it. But somehow, when it comes to my boy Tommy, the gloves come off and he’s now “one-note.” There’s a reason Scorsese, Paul Thomas Anderson, Spielberg (twice), Ridley Scott, Tony Scott (twice), Michael Mann, Oliver Stone, Ron Howard, Sydney Pollack, and Stanley fucking Kubrick have chosen to put him in their movies. He’s an incredible talent.
What grinds my gears even more is that so much of the hate comes from him jumping on a couch like a silly man and being a Scientologist. Who fucking cares? I’ve talked to dozens of people who have met or worked with him, and the feedback is always the same: “Tom Cruise is seriously the nicest, most genuine person you will ever meet. If you talk to him, he will listen like it’s the most fascinating thing he’s ever heard, and he truly means it.” Nothing but nice things about the man. Sure, he’s a little loopy. At the end of the day, though, he’s one of the best actors of his generation.