There’s more than enough fake News going around these days, and not just on social media. Supposedly credible media outlets are sacrificing accuracy at the altar of clicks and ratings. As Article Asylum’s Chief Editor, I promise you that our publication, be it ever so humble, will never make that sacrifice. It is the goal of our endeavor to produce commentary, analysis, reviews, and digestion of entertainment media in the most honest terms we can muster. Fake News is like a hydra though, cut off one head, two more take its place. Yet those who would have truth must hack away and though they decapitate in vain they do so without loss of honor or virtue.
Fake News is a concept which has hit the entertainment media just as hard as it has other spheres of news. The DCEU, in particular, has been plagued with instances of shoddy reporting, baseless rumors, and all manner of information being taken out of context.
‘Wonder Woman: A Disjointed Mess?’
In January 2017, a person described as a “very reliable source” leaked that Wonder Woman was a disjointed mess and had all the same problems as Batman v Superman. This news broke from a podcast called Schmoes Know. The “reliable source” was someone with an All-Access Pass who predicted the same thing of Batman v Superman. Well, with the negative press surrounding BvS it wouldn’t take an oracle or a crystal ball to predict bad critical reception for the film. To be fair, Dawn of Justice is not a conventional film and not everyone likes that so I totally understand.
Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman, on the other hand, is nothing if not a totally competent if not by-the-book narrative and was very well executed. The two films could not have been more different in structure. I can’t imagine viewing any stage of that film’s production as disjointed. Yet numerous outlets grasped at the rumor and ran with it like a toddler running with scissors. Well, I’m here to be that tree root their moms were worried about them tripping over and thrusting aforementioned scissors through their eyes.
Outlets such as TechnoBuffalo, Daily Express, and ComicBookMovie.com all ran with the rumor and left in the part about the “very reliable source”. Many outlets did question the validity of the news but the strong language bulstering the credibility of an obviously unconfirmed source indicates exactly what they wanted their readers to think. It’s misleading, dishonest, and irresponsible: even if it is only entertainment news.
‘Ben Affleck No Longer Interested In Playing Batman’
Late July, Hollywood Reporter broke the news that “a source with knowledge on the situation” told them that Warner Bros was planning on gracefully phasing Ben Affleck out as Batman and then indulged this poorly informed rumor with speculation based on better known news. Neither the headline nor the article treated it as rumor.
Following this, other outlets reported this as news, not rumor. In fairness, they did stage it as doubt and not a certainty but even then, they did language gymnastics to make sure they didn’t have to stamp it as rumor. It’s careful enough reporting to not be outright false, but clearly no one verified the validity of this source and they delighted in reporting on speculation with as misleading words as possible. All in the name of the almighty click.
At Comic-Con this year, Ben Affleck himself dispelled the rumors. He reaffirmed his commitment to the role and also told us that Warner Bros CEO Kevin Tsujihara told him that they want Affleck in the role. Case closed. Fake News.
‘The Batman Not In the DCEU!’
This very week we’ve had an unhealthy dose of Fake News. Matt Reeves, the War for the Planet of the Apes director who is lined up to direct DC’s The Batman granted an interview to KCRW’s The Business. In this interview, Matt says about The Batman “Look, it’s a standalone. This isn’t part of the Extended Universe.” To be fair, interviewing people is harder than you might think. In the heat of the moment, it can be difficult to not assume he’s giving a perfectly prepared remark on the question. Honestly Matt Reeves is partially to blame since he didn’t phrase his remarks as well as he should have. Still, this answer is framed in such a way that it honestly deserves a clarifying follow-up question.
Instead, that’s the headline of the day and naturally many publications ran with it. Again, there’s nothing wrong with reporting rumors so long as you label them as such. Still, the real purpose behind these articles is to generate clicks. Why did Matt Reeves have to correct this on twitter? It’s simple: having the question hanging is better for site traffic, views, and buzz for your publication. No one reached out for clarification despite knowing they needed it. That’s very poor journalism. It’s pure sensationalism.
“Don’t believe everything you hear, son.”– Bruce Wayne