Saturday, January 26, 2013

Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel killed film criticism?

Anghus Houvouras from wrote an interesting piece regarding the over-simplification of film criticism that is prevalent in today's universe. While I've always enjoyed Roger Ebert and respect him highly as a film critic, I understand what Anghus is saying.

I've touched on this subject quite a few times on this site before. It frustrates me what film criticism has become over the past couple of years. Anghus may not be within his right to solely blame Siskel & Ebert for putting every film on a "pass/fail" scale, but that is indeed where we are now in the Internet Age.. It's either the best ever, or the worst ever. That's what discussion of film has turned into. Nothing can be pretty good, decent, average, it has to be one extreme or the other.

That's the case with many things these days. Everybody does this with everything these days. Twitter has amplified that which Anghus is absolutely right about. Twitter, honestly, is my biggest foe when it comes to film criticism. It's not that a person can't say they like or dislike a film on Twitter, but that's not what my complaint's about. The problem is when someone goes right to twitter to judge a film as soon as they see it. Thanks to smart phones and twitter, you can immediately post your initial reaction to something you've just seen. And also thanks to twitter, many people can do this. So when people claim something they saw is "the best ever" or "the worst ever," it's even worse when reading it on twitter because it's such a knee-jerk reaction. It sucks out any meaningful conversation. It's all about being the first one to talk about the movie. It's not about the movie at all. There may be some good things about twitter, for sure, but it's still a big problem I have with the social media site.

This is why I created kenoncinema. When I truly love a film, I want it to mean something. When I truly hate a film, I want it to mean something. To me, there's nothing valuable about proclaiming everything to be great or terrible. I try my best to be as considerate and thoughtful as possible when I start writing about a film. We need to have more nuanced conversations when it comes to things we like or dislike because otherwise, if we simplify our thoughts, they begin to lose meaning.

That said, personally, things like Siskel & Ebert and rottentomatoes made me look deeper into the realm of film criticism. I was a teenager when rottentomatoes became popular and it only help to fuel my passion for film and film criticism. It didn't force me to evaluate things on a pass/fail basis. I know this is the case with other people too. So, while I do think we live in an age where people constantly have to judge things as the best or worst ever, I think it'd be unfair to put the blame solely on one person. There's a lot of reasons for it. The internet brings forth some meaningful dialogue, but also a lot of meaningless drivel.

The important thing is to recognize that we do need to have more nuance in our film conversations, I think it's pointless to try to and pinpoint blame. That sort of thing is also something that occurs too often in the Internet Age.

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