Thursday, April 17, 2008

Film Criticism In Peril

When any kid with a DV cam and Final Cut Pro can shoot to become the next Tarantino, why is it surprising that any blogger with Internet access will aim to fill Ebert’s shoes?

While the excessive amount of “assholes with opinions” technology generates is annoying, the “preaching to the converted” bubble that most critics belong to is equally annoying. Often paid critics (other than populists like Ebert) – like academics – aren’t speaking to the general population. Let’s face it. No one in a shit-kicking town in Texas gives a fuck about “Film Comment” – or even the “NY Times” for that matter. And the elitist “Well, we don’t care about those philistines anyway,” attitude regularly emanating from the cinephile chorus does just as much harm to cinema as the recent mass purging of paid film critics from newspapers. Roger Ebert is famous and will continue to make a living from his writing not because he’s a great critic (which he happens to be), but because he speaks the same language as the vast majority of ticket buyers. That’s democracy in action as well.

Perhaps film critics are finally getting the memo – art doesn’t pay. Those of us who really care about rescuing cinema know that the one sure way out of this democratization/distillation “crisis” is to stop whining, put our heads down and simply do the work.

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