Smell of Popcorn

film reviews & musings by Max Lalanne


Film Criticism Ain’t Dying, Just Evolving

Posted by Max Lalanne on June 24, 2012

Good ol’ film criticism is dying, film critics everywhere for the last couple years or so have been moping and moaning. And it’s all because of the Internet and everyone, non-professional and amateur, who posts reviews online even if they suck, simply because they can and therefore reducing the need for paid critics. Not only that, but the overall quality of film criticism is also descending, and it’s all because of the Internet, also. I call myself a film critic and a blogger, both actually. When I post a review on this blog, nobody “approves” my writing before I launch them into the blogosphere except myself, and yet I like to think that they are respectable, well-written articles worthy of being read. And so, if we listen to common opinion, I am one of those responsible for killing film criticism. I go out on Fridays and watch movies and write about them afterwards, and even I’m not paid a cent or neither is film criticism my professional day job – I’m a student, by the way – I’m still doing it and loving it. And there are thousands of others doing exactly the same thing.

What these bemoaning film critics do admit though, is that among the thousands and thousands of users who put up a blog within hours and decide to start throwing out articles into the big blogosphere, there are also countless talented and fine writers who wouldn’t have their work read any other way. And that’s the key to it all. They might put out good content, reviews and posts, and be subsequently more respected than the rest, but they – or if I may say, we – are still considered as being part of the killers of film criticism. It’s a natural evolution of culture in this day and age. Even if some are lamenting this evolution no one is blaming anyone out loud, because one can’t expect the entire world to keep buying and reading newspapers for generations and generations and everyone knows that. But, since we’re part of those jumping on the future bandwagon and ushering in a new era of film criticism that some left behind on the old-fashioned highway don’t consider film criticism, we are still considered responsible – because we are responsible. We are certainly not killing film criticism, but we are responsible for stealing away the audiences of traditional print publications and putting critics out of normal work. There’s no denying that because it’s true.

And why are we doing that? Because we are embracing the Internet for what it is, an open portal into the world possible of reaching nearly everyone, and putting out our opinions on movies like we should be able to. That’s all we’re doing, no more and no less, and it’s a damn good thing for film criticism that we’re doing it. Yes, you say, just because someone loves movies doesn’t mean he or she becomes an instantly qualified film critic or even worse, call themselves that. And I agree. But the Internet’s like the ultimate filter out there. If people don’t want to read a review – well then, they simply pass over it without a second thought like they do to a million things on the Internet every day already. All this talk about how the blogosphere is so stuffed with bad material that it’s impossible to find the good gems hidden in there simply isn’t true, because there’s nothing as efficient for finding great things out there than the millions of Internet users and your own sharp, discernible eye. It’s worth it in the long run. More and more people have the chance to read good reviews everyday, because film criticism is no longer relegated to the big names of print publications.

If that’s the natural evolution of film criticism – at least for the next hundred years or so before the Internet as we know it slowly dissolves like the newspapers of yesteryear – isn’t that a great thing to be embraced? Isn’t it a step forward in film criticism that film criticism itself is starting to have no boundaries, that it is now thriving in the final frontier and enjoyed by anyone and everyone? Yes, for one fantastic review published in an esteemed New York newspaper by an esteemed critic there are thousands of bad ones typed out by fanboys who don’t have any idea what they’re doing. But it’s also the best kind of way for new and ambitious critics to be found, and whenever more and more talented folks post reviews – how can that be called the death of film criticism? Times are a changing, but it’s for the best. If film criticism itself is the act of print publications having the only respectable critics worth reading, then yes, film criticism is dying. But if film criticism is the pure and great act of analyzing and reviewing cinema, then my friends, it is a blooming and flourishing art that is being fueled more and more everyday. Film criticism is not dying at all, it’s merely evolving and bearing down faster than some can comprehend. And yes, naturally I’m lovin’ it.


One Response to “Film Criticism Ain’t Dying, Just Evolving”

  1. My parents used to like to amuse me wth a fifth grade class assignment where we predicted our futures. I expressed a slight desire for politics but mostly I wanted to act, write and direct on stage and screen. I even named planned projects. The clincher came with my closing where I wrote, “If all else fails, I’ll be a film critic.” As for the current state of film criticism, I don’t think that it is necessarily dying. However, I suspect the audience that used to read film criticism but weren’t serious film buffs have vanished and critics now largely talk among themselves.

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