Monday, April 07, 2008

PRINT FILM CRITICS: R.I.P.

Noticed that there have been even more articles about film critics and how newspapers are getting rid of them. And these articles have stirred up quite a debate. Anne Thompson wrote a piece for Variety on the state of film criticism and has aggregated quite a few articles about it. I notice that Kevin Carr has weighed in with his own response. Also, Karina Longworth and Alex Billington have weighed in. (UPDATE: So has John Campea.)

I guess the main point of the responses has been that online film critics are taking over the field abdicated by these newspapers, and that if these stodgy older film critics are to survive they had better find a way to get with it and embrace the new technology -- the Internet, use of video streaming, that sort of thing. I mean, look at Roger Ebert -- the reason he's so big is largely because of his TV show and his booming web site! This is of course great for everyone who lives outside of Chicago who can't access a copy of the Sun-Times at their local newsstand.

I have of course weighed in already with my thoughts that newspapers are digging their own graves if they think that getting rid of their film critics is the way to go. Among other things, these critics perform a major public service by championing these smaller pictures and getting them known. And film coverage makes for a lively newspaper! That's why you buy a newspaper, so you can read the rants and raves of these people! And with the Internet going strong, you would think these papers could use that medium to bring in vast audiences from far outside their own coverage area. You would think some of these papers would want to beef up their local film departments and have their critics set up their own blogs and websites, promoting themselves and their paper.

I do agree with one point Kevin Carr has made in his article, which is that there are a lot of stodgy old folks out there who don't seem to "get" a lot of movies, particularly these popcorn flicks. He points to the Web as a place where a lot of the film writers appreciate the popcorn flicks and all kinds of movies that these stodgy critics can't seem to get excited about.

He should come to Canada and read some of these crummy newspapers in the major cities. A lot of these critics here really do seem to hate all popcorn movies --comedies, action movies, you name it. If it's a arty picture filled with Canadians (very important), it'll get a big positive writeup. But if it's a good popcorn flick, especially one that's funny and has a lot of special effects, interesting monsters and so on, it won't matter. They'll trash the bleeping thing every time! It's annoying as heck to read film critics who obviously hate going to the movies. It's as if these folks are resentful that they are not on the theater beat, or something.

Maybe that's one reason why so many successful Internet film sites have come out of Canada in recent years: JoBlo, the Movie Blog, and so on. Because many of the print critics here really are uptight individuals who have no sense of humor and also hate comic books.

Honestly, I wouldn't be sad to see these types of film critics walk the plank. Problem is they won't be replaced by anyone better -- or anyone at all in this climate.

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