Are film critics to be trusted?
Do you give any attention to what film critics say these days? Do you let them guide you to movies – or talk you out of watching them? Do their views and analyses influence your own perception of a movie?
If you’re following my blog you know that I still do pay at least a little bit of attention. There’s a certain British film critic that has a devoted follower in me (I’ve promised to stop talking so much about him so I’m not going to mention any name here.) But if you take away him, I’ve noted that the more I blog about movies and the more involved I get in the film fan community, the less do I care about the people who do this for business.
As an ex journalist I always used to be the one to defend my former colleagues when people are picking on media for various reasons. I’ve ran rants about our code of conduct, I’ve talked about how the media consumers are the ones who are guilty of consuming all the bad journalism and that it’s the market that is to blame, not the journalists. And over the years I’ve declared that much of the criticism is must myths and exaggerations.
When I did something questionable
Admittedly I’ve done something questionable myself back in the days, but I think it was more silly than harmful. This isn’t film related, but I’m going to share the story anyway. It’s a confession about how we used to handle the horoscope column.
I’m not a believer in horoscopes myself, but I’ve got the impression that there are some people who take those things pretty seriously. At the local newspaper were I worked we used to have a daily horoscopes with predictions and advice for people depending on what sign they were born in. The problem was that we inherited those horoscopes from another, bigger newspaper. We re-used their press plates. In best case the horoscopes were used with one day’s delay. But more often than not we tossed all the incoming horoscopes in a random pile and picked just anyone. The horoscope we ended up using could concern a day two weeks ago or a month into the future. But so what? We didn’t expect them to be anything but lies in the first place. I admit it: It was a fraud, although a minor one. However I’m sorry if I deceived you. It won’t happen again.
But apart from that, I’ve been a fierce defender of journalists until recently. However – right or wrong – since I went more serious with my cinephilia last year, I’ve felt a growing suspicion: Isn’t there an awful lot of back-patting going on in this world? Are film critics really able to be completely independent of peer pressure and trends? Can they afford not to take into consideration their relationship with actors and directors they want to get easy access to in the future? The thoughts have been nagging me.
When my trust got a blow
Recently my trust for film critics got a more severe blow when a fellow blogger from Sweden told me a true story. The blogger in question attends a lot of press screenings and she told me about how she’d gone to a screening of a critically acclaimed movie – I think it was The Tree of Life, if I remember it correctly. At the same screening was one of the leading film critics in Sweden and she observed him sleeping through the entire movie. He even snored, so there was no mistake about it. But that didn’t stop him from giving the film a glowing, enthusiastic review afterwards. She doesn’t trust a word of what he says anymore and neither do I. God knows what he bases his reviews on, but it’s obviously not on what he has watched with his own eyes.
So what’s your view? Is it right or wrong to be suspicouls towards film critics as a collective? Was that guy just the one rotten apple and I shouldn’t judge everyone else because of him? Or is there indeed something rotten in this state? Would I do better staying as far away as possible from the opinions of others, relying on my own judgment, or on the advice from a few trusted, guaranteedly independent bloggers?
Have you ever seen someone falling asleep in a press-screening, still writing a review, pretending that nothing had happened?
Feel free to share your thoughts and experiences over a drink of your choice! And have a wonderful weekend!