Day Fourty-Three – Critics Have a Place in the Business

12 02 2010

I was visiting the Rotten Tomatoes message boards, which happen to be like a barren wasteland of outdated posts, spam and advice for burning bootleg DVDs, when I ran into something disturbing.

In the critics’ forum, someone felt to post that critics are irrelevant, but it the most confusing way possible.

Read below:

“Why do most film critics act like they actualy know what they are talking about?… when movies are all about art and art cannot be viewed from an objective point of view. I personaly think they are frustrated and vent their frustration through this because thay can’t actualy do something with thier lives and bash movies cause it makes them feel like they actualy know something.”

Out of that entire run on sentence, there may be one valid point. If films are considered art, they cannot, nor should not, be viewed objectively.

Film critics are at their best when they find hidden gems that wouldn't get attention in a world where 'Transformers 2' is considered good film-making.

However, film critics never view films with objectivity in mind. If that were the case, Rotten Tomatoes would have scores of 100% and 0% only. Subjectivity within film criticism is exactly what makes it relevant. Whether you agree with me, Roger Ebert or Michael Phillips is irrelevant. We all take something different out of the movie, and that’s what makes the film art in itself.

I think people are worried about the power that critics used to have in the newspaper era. If Roger Ebert gave a film a thumbs down, that could hurt the box office. Nowadays, it’s Twitter and Rotten Tomatoes that decide the fate of films. It has become much more of a democratic system and some don’t see the use of the film critic any longer.

That concept worries me. The film critic isn’t there primarily to scare you away from films. Most would agree that they hate giving films a score, but need it in order to draw readers. The job of a film critic is share their interpretation of the film, leaving it up for discussion as you would any other art form.

When film critics are at their best, they are able to lift a film from the ground floor. By listening to suggestions from various critics, I have seen some of the best films that the overwhelming majority hasn’t even heard of. The Smashing Machine was suggested by Chris Gore and I now share that find with anyone who will lend their ear. Nearly every film critic was urging people to go see The Hurt Locker, which I’m happy I saw in theatres, since watching it at home would have provided an entirely different experience.

In the end, film critics have their place in the industry. They don’t force their opinions on anyone. They are readily available, but can’t stop anyone from seeing Transformers 2 and it’s ilk. That’s no mystery.




One response

28 02 2010
Day Fifty-Nine – Two Months Later… « Fresh Buckets of OJ

[…] Day Fourty-Three – Critics Have a Place in the Business […]

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