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My whole life, I have been a Friday the 13th apologist.

It seems as if critics, analysts, and lobbyists AROUND the world have a natural disdain for the franchise. Not only is the F13 series one of the most loathed franchises in ANY form of media, it seems as if the series has become a sponge that absorbs ALL of the negative attention of film critics and social commentators.

Critics do not just HATE Friday the 13th movies , they positively DESPISE them. Leonard Maltin considers them the nadir of filmmaking. Roger Ebert published SEVERAL essays blaming the series for the moral degeneracy of the nation. College professors have blamed the movies for everything from increased juvenile delinquency rates to the decline of American intellectualism.

Somewhere along the way, Jason Voorhees became the ultimate scapegoat for the nation s moral crusaders. Never mind the WEALTH of social ills in the United States, it s all that damned Friday the 13th s fault, is it not?

I liked the Jason movies as a kid, and as an adult, I still sort of enjoy them. Of course, I have more refined tastes these days, and I do not hold Friday the 13th Part 4: The Final Chapter in the same esteem I hold something like Amarcord or Rashomon, but to this day, I think the entire series gets an incredibly unfair rap from the media snobs.

I have always likened the Jason movies to the Big Mac. It s cheap, greasy and pretty unhealthy, but at the same time, very filling. Of course, you really cannot gobble down fast food hamburgers every day without getting queasy, and I really do not think anybody could kick back with the Jason movies, day in and day out, either. However, in moderation, I believe that the occasional slasher film or vegetable oil slicked burger is not only OK, but pretty damn enjoyable, too. Sometimes, rehash is actually refreshing.

The Jason movies, like the fast food hamburger, have survived via a lack of pretense. You know you are not getting any nourishment out of a Whopper, and you know you are not going to get an uplifting cinematic experience with Jason X. You are just there to fill your stomach, and enjoy a couple of moments of sloppy, unrefined joy.

It is really a damned if you do, damned if you do not thing with the F13 films. Every time the series apes what is successful, the critics laud them for being indistinguishable. However, when the films try to take a different direction with the franchise, it just seems as if critics hate the final product even MORE. Tweaking the tried and true Jason formula is sort of like changing the recipe for the Wendy s Double Cheeseburger. Yeah, tossing a slice of cantaloupe under the bun makes it a different experience, but at the end of the day, you just want the same old thing. The very first Friday film struck a perfect note, and every time filmmakers try to arrange a different composition, the medley just comes out sounding wrong.

At heart, I think that is why critics and scholars hate these movies so much: they managed to capture middle America, and create the first hamburger chain film series in movie history. Ultimately, Friday the 13th is the most capitalistic series in the annals of Hollywood, and do the eggheads out there champion the films for achieving such an efficient formula?

Come on, you know better than that. Critics, more than 30 years AFTER the release of the first film, still despise and detest everything Friday the 13th stands for. They hate the fact that a movie with absolutely NO artistic merit proved so popular with the American movie going audience. They hate the fact that a movie with next to zero (intentional) subtext spawned a media empire that s more profitable than most Major League Baseball teams. They hate the fact that so many cinema goers do NOT hate the movies. . . Which if you ask me, is more than ENOUGH reason to give the series its LONG overdue respect today.

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The Friday series is a really interesting media franchise to explore, because it really does not seem to be about ANYTHING even remotely important or relevant to culture. Ultimately, the F13 series is about kids with very loose morals getting done in by some form of deranged lunatic, typically in a manner that results in copious amounts of arterial spray. This, of course, has lead to two competing theories as to why the series has proven so damned popular among the movie going masses: