The Interested Observer

film critics? we don’t need no stinkin’ film critics

August 15th, 2006 · No Comments

The Los Angeles Times wonders if old-school film critics — your Pauline Kaels, your A.O. Scotts — are becomming obsolete in the Internet age. The answer, not surprisingly, is yes.
The article (registration required) laments the passing of intellectual film criticism, but at the same time acknowleges the increasing importance of the Internet, including blogs, word of mouth, texting, e-mailing and online video trailers.
In a post called “Who Killed the Critics” , Jeff Jarvis writes that the days of a handful of self-appointed experts deciding what will get a thumbs up and what will not — are over.

But criticism lives on, just in a more collaborative form. Jarvis sums up the sea change in one sentence:  “The truth is that criticism isn’t dying. It’s opening up now that everyone is a critic.”

” …we are all now critics,” he writes. “You no longer have to wait for the friend you trust — who, I’ve long said, is the best critic for you — to see a movie, you can now find friends online or watch the aggregate opinions of people online or go write a review yourself. And it’s not just movies, of course. Amazon’s audience is everybody’s critic for everybody’s product.”

Old School critics might be less influential than Ms. Kael was in her prime, but media savvy online types believe this is a good thing. The discussion of cinema (and television and all things entertainment) is an open conversation anyone can join.

At the end of June, shortly before the release of “The Devil Wears Prada” , one of my friends was circulating a clip she found on You Tube. Based on the clip and several other scenes we spotted online, we decided this was a movie we’d like to see. We didn’t wait for reviews. We didn’t read the reviews. We liked what we saw and we wanted to see more. After the movie, we e-mailed friends who hadn’t seen it yet, to give them our own “two thumbs up” review. That’s how it works these days. It’s really just DIY criticism. No more read only, but read write. Lawrence Lessig would be so proud of us.
Jarvis, the founder of EW, wrote that if he were launching the magazine today, “with the collabortive nature of cyberspace at our fingertips,” he’d do it very differently:

“If I launched Entertainment Weekly today,” he wrote, I hope I’d have the sense not to propose starting a magazine by hiring a bunch of critics. Oh, I might have a few of them, if they’re really worth reading. But I’d turn Entertainment Weekly into Entertainment Whenever, an online event that brings together opinions on entertainment, big and small, from anywhere, and I’d use technology to help you find the critics you trust.”

Wikicrit. Sounds like a plan.

Tags: pop culture