Has The Tim Burton Backlash Gone Too Far?

When did Tim Burton become the web’s favourite whipping boy? Following the premiere of Dark Shadows this week, the Sun Herald declared Burton’s “celebrated brand of eccentricity” to be irrelevant, while Variety claimed: “Loyalists . . . will detect of a hint of mothballs” following the latest endeavour. io9 wearily listed the 10 things you’ll see in every Tim Burton movie, and Gawker whinged that Burton’s “yawn” has become more pronounced over time.


It seems the Tim Burton honeymoon period is over. After all, exactly how many remakes of our beloved childhood books and movies must there be? Exactly how many times can Johnny Depp don a period costume and stare wide-eyed into the audience? Is it only a matter of time before the two of them interpret Twister? (Oh God, I hope so). “Why can’t Tim Burton go back to being the director we knew and loved?” We ask ourselves. “WHY DID HE HAVE TO CHANGE?”

Well, maybe we’ve changed.


Gone are the days of us scream-singing “What’s This?” while parading around the living room dressed up like Jack Skellington. Gone are the days of watching Edward Scissorhands while wading through wallows of teen angst. Gone are the days of shopping at Hot Topic because we’re adults now and can define ourselves through more than movies and music. Yes, interpreting Dark Shadows for a 2012 PG-13 audience may be sacrilegious to some of us, but when we were 13 we would have probably loved it.


This is why growing up sucks. But God help us everyone if we were all still relating to Corpse Bride.

Tim Burton has a shtick – so sue him. Hollywood is built on trademarks, and while Tim Burton’s is easy to target, why not champion your favourite underground filmmakers instead of crucifying a mainstream director for maintaining longevity – especially in the wake of having not released a “critically acclaimed” movie since 2009.

And what? While Alice In Wonderland earned a measly 51% critical rating, it raked in over $300 million and delighted kids, teens and parents world-over. Why is that such a bad thing? Considering Mr. Burton’s got a few children himself, why wouldn’t he begin making movies that he and his kids could sit down and enjoy? Everybody changes – case in point: he and best friend forever, Johnny Depp.


Yes, they work together. A lot. Always. Forevermore. But like with any other Hollywood friendship, Tim works with his pal to create something they like. Just like the rest of “the industry.” Just like with television. Just like with music. Just like in restaurants. Just like at your workplace where you (try and) work with the people you like and avoid the ones you don’t. Hello, human nature – we’re drawn to where we feel comfortable.

And I get it: it’s not hip to like mainstream things – especially when those “mainstream” things used to be the dark, brooding and sometimes “controversial” tools we’d use as a gauge to form lasting relationships. But enough with the backlash. You don’t like Dark Shadows? Don’t watch it. It’s a movie. Made by a man who created some of the beloved movies we still watch every Christmas and Halloween (and yes, I’m talking about Ed Wood).

The bottom line is that we’ve all changed. So why can’t he?

‘Dark Shadows’ review