My name is Justin, and I’ve been a Zack Snyder fan for a long time, probably longer than most people. I’ve written numerous articles about his work and the cultural context surrounding it. Perhaps my most successful is Real or Ideal: The Choice of Steel. In 2014, I started a podcast series in which my cohosts and I analyze his movies one-by-one.
I’m leading with all this information because apparently in the year 2019 we’re checking credentials at the door. Somehow, someway, a shared desire to see Zack Snyder’s version of the Justice League movie has inspired a religious fervor concerned with ideological purity. As someone who believes in Objectivism yet has distanced himself from most Objectivists, I never thought I’d hear the word “movement” and this level of overly-blustery condemnatory rhetoric again. Yet here we are.
I’m not really a Zack Snyder fan. I don’t really want to see the Snyder Cut. I have no right to talk about either of those topics. I’ve been told these things in the last week or so by numerous people, both directly and indirectly. Other people, much more positive in demeanor, are telling me it is a small vocal minority who are spreading this negativity and the best course of the action is to ignore them. The problem with this approach is if you ignore the vocal, their voices go unchallenged until they’re the loudest and most heard. And, well, here we are.
To borrow a phrase from former president Barack Obama, let me be clear. The #ReleasetheSnyderCut “movement” has one goal. Or rather, it should—the release of Zack Snyder’s cut of Justice League. I mean, it’s right there in the hashtag. It’s a pretty good hashtag. That quality is why it’s been spoken in High Valerian and mimicked by other campaigns such as #ReleasetheMuellerReport. Despite this clarity, many people seem to think there are other objectives to this organized effort. Some want the return of Snyder to the DCEU. Some want David Ayer’s version of Suicide squad to be released. Those are fine desires. In fact, they’re completely understandable. They just shouldn’t be the goal of #ReleasetheSnyderCut.
Look, I’m not telling anyone what to believe or want. I’m just defining my terms because definitions are important. To have a conversation, you have to agree on what you’re talking about—and what we all agree on is that we want to see Snyder’s version of Justice League. We may have different reasons for wanting to see it. We may have different outcomes we want from seeing it. But we all agree, we want to see it and in order to see it Warner Bros, its owner, needs to release it. (I, personally, just want to see it because there’s an entire Zack Snyder movie I haven’t seen yet, and I don’t care what happens with WB or the DCEU afterward.)
If we can’t agree, accept, and focus on this simple definition, conversation with WB becomes impossible. Their perception of us as requestors will be at best confused–“Wait, what exactly do these consumers want? Wasn’t this just about a version of a movie?”—or at worst skewed—“Wow, these consumers are really entitled. They’re never going to be satisfied, even if we release this version of the movie.” Lack of definition will also alienate new potential and current supporters alike. As we’ve already seen, many a Twitter skirmish has been fought in the name of the Snyder Cut—and most have been unproductive as they’ve seen casualties on both sides.
Think of it this way. The footage Snyder shot and assembled is owned by WB. If you owned something, how could someone appeal to you to get you to share it with them? There are only two possible motivations that would inspire you to release your property—kindness or self-interest. I’m not looking to debate the merits of both motivations. The fact is that WB is a business, so their motivation will always be self-interest. Confusing them about what the “movement” wants or skewing their perception of the “movement” will make them unable to see how releasing the Snyder Cut is in their self-interest or, worse, believe that releasing it is to their detriment.
If you owned something and someone else wanted it, would you want them to trick or manipulate you into sharing it or for them to take it by force? No, you’d greatly prefer that they ask you for it, the more politely and pleasantly the better. You’d be even more inclined to share it if the person proved it would benefit you beyond the act of sharing it making the person like you more. In the case of a business, the most direct and immediate benefit is profits.
Thus, if the goal of #ReleasetheSnyderCut is to see Zack Snyder’s version of Justice League by WB releasing it, the method of achieving that goal must be to ask them politely and pleasantly by proving they will profit from the release. Twitter skirmishes and demands will not work. It will only encourage more people to throw around labels such as “toxic.” WB must see that they will be rewarded for the action.
This need is also why the most popular alternative method—a boycott—will not work. A boycott is a punishment. You only punish someone when justice is the sole requirement. While an injustice was done to Snyder, righting that wrong would require much more than releasing a movie or bringing him back to the DCEU—and demanding something so abstract would return us to the problem of WB asking “what in the hell do these people actually want?”
What happened to Snyder during the production of Justice League was incredibly complex—personally, professionally, and culturally. That ironic injustice cannot be undone so simply. If you don’t believe me, read The Fountainhead. The parallels here are incredibly eerie. There’s a reason Snyder changed the name of his production company to The Stone Quarry. Seriously, go read the book right now. I’ll wait.
Or don’t read The Fountainhead. I don’t care. Just like I don’t care if you still do or don’t want to see DCEU or WB movies. I’m not telling anyone what is right for them personally. What I’m asking is that we each individually draw a line between where #ReleasetheSnyderCut ends and your personal causes begin. You don’t see me saying the only right reason to want the Snyder Cut to be released is to celebrate Romanticism.
And of course don’t advocate and support the release of the Snyder Cut if doing so is a detriment to your life. But you know what? When you tell other people that not advocating or supporting the way you do is harmful to the cause, you’re making the experience a detriment to them. And why would they want to stick around when they’re being treated that way by the people who are supposed to share their goal?
I’m a huge Zack Snyder fan. I always will be. I’ll also always want to see the Snyder Cut. Neither of those facts, however, are enough to make me want to support a “movement” that wants me to make myself look bad by association or be subjected to unnecessary and unwarranted negativity. And if I feel this way and I have the Stone Quarry logo tattooed on me, how do the ambivalent-to-the-Snyder-Cut or anti-the-Snyder-Cut crowds feel?
I truly believe that each one of us has the potential to do good for #ReleasetheSnyderCut. We just have to remember to be wary of the fever, the rage, that turns good men cruel. After all, we don’t want the Snyder Cut to have to die for us to realize that we have to come together right now.