The Gentlemen Broncos Response To "Bully Porn" Accusations

Some critics have dubbed Gentlemen Broncos "bully porn," or claimed that it pokes fun at geeks, fans, and anyone who's odd or awkward. Not so, claims the director.

Even though we thought the film Gentlemen Broncos rose above the bad buzz, to become an intensely personal film from a different person's perspective — awkward moments and all — some disagreed.

Entertainment Weekly complained that the film lacked the ever-present kitsch, and didn't celebrate its oddball characters as director Jared Hess has done in his previous works...

As they did in Napoleon Dynamite and Nacho Libre, the Hesses claim to celebrate the amusing qualities of misshapen people and their misshapen dreams, insisting that amateurism and bad taste (both in filmmaking and in life) are intentional artistic choices. The audience may have bought the act in Napoleon Dynamite. But this time, the act bombs.

AICN went even further accusing Hess of "Bully Porn."

Jared Hess doesn't make comedies. He makes Bully Porn. His characters, devoid of any likable qualities whatsoever, serve only to mope around pathetically, dressed in the hand-me-down isn't it ironic clothing of the late 1980's, to be laughed at for how miserable, lowly and despicably uninteresting they are. By us. The bullies. You see, this is supposed to be funny. We're supposed to giggle and chortle at the mom who wants nothing more from life than to make nightgowns for a living, or the indie-from-home filmmaker who grins like he's had reconstructive facial surgery. That's funny, right?

We knew this was coming, because a few audience members just didn't laugh the way we did during the screening. So we asked Hess if he was prepared for a potential backlash against this film. And how he walks the line between skewering these outcast characters, versus paying them homage.

Hess told us:

I don't really think about walking a line, I'm just doing what I love and casting the people that I love and ... it's funny. I think especially when Napoleon came out for the first time many people were like, 'Gosh this is condescending to rural America and their way of life; how dare he!'

And I don't know if these people have ever really been, you know, the people that didn't understand it, didn't really understood the love.

It's, for me, giving these smaller stories and characters that you normally wouldn't see in film, giving them a chance to be heard. In this fight, they've got bizarre life goals. It's still cool to be able to see them succeed in their own little sphere.

We also grabbed producer and snake-holding actor Mike White, and asked him what he would say to people that don't understand it and might accuse Broncos of making fun of science fiction fans and science fiction in general. Is it teasing or an homage?

I really don't think that that's true because I feel like Jared [Hess] really has an affection for all these people, and really relates to all these people — if you meet him, he does all the voices, it's like he really ... is inside it. I think Jared has a certain sensibility that if he's not into something, he just won't focus his attention on it. And the things he does focus his attention on are things he's really an enthusiast of.

I think some people don't share...I think some people don't have a sense of humor, period. And whether it's teen life or the troubles of a misfit teenager, or the travails of a writer who wants to write science fiction, some people, if all they want is for all of that to be taken very seriously, they're gonna have that reaction, yeah.

But don't mistake not taking something seriously for making fun of it. I think he wants to have fun with his characters and with scenarios, but I think the reason he chose this world is because he was that kid. I think he's more big-hearted than some people [see]. Some people come to it with their own prism.

We felt the movie was less an assault on the nerd culture and more an extremely personal revelation. Each of the characters struggles with his/her own failures, insecurities and successes — if anything, it was so realistic I almost cried when the main character threw up before getting kissed, because some of us might have been there before.