Tuesday, July 25, 2006

A Partial Answer...

to my movie critic question ("why isn't there a market for a `regular guy' (or girl) film critic?") is provided by Rod Dreher, a former critic for the NY Post. In a response to the NY Times piece I discussed last week, he argues that while he was paid to be a "consumer guide", he instead behaved as a "pure critic":
A final, minor point: because professional critics see everything for free, we can be guilty of overpraising small, worthy films. After I quit reviewing professionally, it startled me to think about how many movies I'd given three stars (out of four) to that I wouldn't mind renting on DVD, but that I'd never pay $10 to see. I think a pure critic would have said honestly what he thought about the movie, and not thought of his job as having anything to do with being a consumer guide. But I was not paid to be that kind of critic; I worked for daily newspapers, and people had a right to expect me to help them figure out if this or that movie was worth the price of a ticket. A more honest and truly useful ratings guide would have been to chuck the star system, and do one of three choices: "See it," "Skip it," or "Wait for the video."
So maybe there is a market, but the critics don't live up to the deal. Probably not. The economist in me tells me that if the problem was the critics, that they'd be replaced with critics who do it "right."

Still, the post is worth reading and lends further insight into the relationship between films, critics, and viewers. Also, a final note from Rod suggests that maybe we do get the "average Joe" information from our current crop of critics:
Every now and then I'd run into somebody who, upon finding out what I did for a living, would say, "If the critics loved a movie, I stay away from it, and if they hated it, I figure it's something I'd enjoy." My stock response: "See, we are helpful to you after all."
Hit tip to The Opinionator. ($ sub. req.)


Blogger Rob Horning said...

It may be that a reviewer's obligation is to entertain rather than inform and to hold a reader's attention. Critics seem to perform a skeptical role toward culture that readers are glad they need not fulfill themselves. Reassured after reading that someone is out there fighting the good fight for standards, they can enjoy the movies with a clean conscience and in a forgiving state of acceptance.

7/25/2006 2:05 PM  

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