Maggie Mae Fish and the Problem With the Better Critics

Maggie Mae Fish

Maggie Mae Fish is an actor, producer, and writer. She is also a YouTube film critic. She is generally quite insightful when it comes to analyzing mainstream films. Even when she provides ridiculous takes, I find them interesting.

Where she fails is anytime she mentions lower-budget films. I’ve seen this a number of times where she’s dismissed Ed Wood as a director. This always makes me think that she hasn’t watched much of his work.

She notes that Ed Wood’s acting in Glen or Glenda is “heartwrenching and honest.” But later in the same video she says, “Ed Wood, the notoriously bad director, managed to tackle the subject of his own cross-dressing with more dignity than the auteur Tim Burton.” In addition to calling Wood a bad director, in what world is he not even more of an auteur than Tim Burton?!

This is a backhanded compliment at best and ultimately only present to attack another filmmaker. She doesn’t ever say why Ed Wood is bad. It’s just an assumption that she has that informs all of her work. And it’s a shame because there is very little other than conventional wisdom to back it up.

Christmas Evil

I wouldn’t have brought this up except that she made a video about one of my all-time favorite films, Christmas Evil. I want to be fair, though; she clearly likes the film. Yet the video is filled with cutting remarks that don’t make much sense.

She says:

This film is simultaneously all the things we love about the bizarre horror/Christmas subgenre, while also being a critique of capitalism, while also being bad.

She then goes on to note various things that make the film bad. But she does it in a way that makes it unclear whether she’s serious. This is good because everything she mentions is either trivial or untrue.

The only substantive claim she makes is about the editing of the company’s Christmas party. While this may be how it was edited on the VHS release of the film, this is not how it is edited in the excellent Vinegar Syndrome Blu-Ray edition.

(I’ve noted elsewhere a tendency for critics to complain about filmmakers when the problem clearly could be — and very often is — the fault of the print. This comes naturally from the critic’s inclination to nit-pick when they are determined to justify their complain that a film is “bad.”)

Just Admit You Like It Because It’s Good

Most of the rest of the review is laudatory. There are some complaints. She mentions that one scene goes on too long because of course, she’s the ultimate arbiter of that and knows far better than writer/director Lewis Jackson.

And she calls it a B-movie, which isn’t really accurate. Adjusted for inflation, it had a budget of almost $3 million. It’s lighting budget alone was over a million dollars. I consider Christmas Evil an art film that just happens to use the slasher genre.

But overall, Maggie Mae Fish shows a sincere appreciation for the film. I just wish that she and the relatively few critics like her (the rest are hopeless) would be more secure and defend what they like forthrightly. The whole “I like it but it isn’t good” pretense was annoying decades ago.

It’s now completely unacceptable.

Image taken from Maggie Mae Fish YouTube channel under Fair Use.

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