September 22, 2009

No Country for "Actual" Film Critics?

It seems nowadays that the popular thing to do is to blame the internet for all the world's problems. The music industry sucks? Blame the internet. The movie industry is in the shits? Blame the internet. The economy is going down the tubes? Blame the internet. The Mets can't make the playoffs? Well, you get the point. But, as we learned in the first grade, the easy solution is not always the right one. For the last few days, some of the more intelligent and gifted online bloggers have aired their personal gripes about the watering down of the film critic. According to Sasha Stone (of Awards Daily), the line between an actual film critic and a 15 year old with a blog is dangerously close to blurring. For her, this is borderline blasphemous. She writes that:

Nowadays, anyone with a blog who sees movies is called a “critic.” I really think that should be amended to use the term “blogger” or “industry columnist.” Not everyone is an actual film critic. I feel like I’m the only person in the known universe who cares about the difference but that’s because I come from a time when there was a difference; not just anyone could write about movies and be called a “critic.”

I typically respect Sasha’s opinions. She’s very intelligent when it comes to writing about the Academy Awards, and her website is one of the dopest. However, her post on film critics was puzzling. First, she did not offer a proper definition on what it takes to be a real critic. Generally, when a person makes an assertion, it’s customary for that person to offer a defense of the assertion. Anyone can blurt out empty meaningless statements, but often one anticipates some sort of defense. Sasha offers nothing. All I know is that she believes people who write about movies on their blogs are not necessarily film critics. That seems fair, but what the hell is a film critic then? Also, is she arguing that people who just write about films on their blogs should not be considered critics? Or is she arguing that people who aim to critique films on their blogs should not be considered critics? There is a major distinction between the two. Some people just write, and others offer criticisms.

Also, I’m a little confused by her last statement. Any type of film critic just doesn’t write about movies. Any person aiming to be a film critic just doesn’t write about movies. It’s not that simple. Some try to offer objective and informative critiques of the films that they watch. Isn’t that what film critics do? I guess the real question is what distinguishes Roger Ebert from me? Am I just an impostor film critic? Maybe. I don’t get paid and my opinions are barely read. But, my passion for film cannot be questioned. I study it, I live it, I breath it, and I love it. Of course, I’m not in the same ball park as Roger Ebert. He’s in the major league. But can’t the rest of us impostors at least bat for the minor leagues? Sure, I'm not as good. I'm trying to become a better critic. That does not mean I am not a critic. It just means that I have a shit more to learn before I consider myself a somewhat decent one.

As Jay-Z once rapped, “You can’t knock the hustle”. Please stop knocking our hustle. We're not your Grandfather's critics, but we're critics.

(Brad Brevet chimes in.)

1 comment:

  1. here here Keith, as I mentioned to you earlier on Skype, it seems so odd to read this, but alas...and don't mention the Mets, they hurt my heart...