09 mars 2010

Reality Check : Film Critics are NOT the Movie Press

...and vice-versa.
You don't find Film Criticism where there is a so-called "Film Press", you find it where Film Critics are. Film Criticism is not an employment by an industry, it's an immaterial discipline.

RIP Variety
David Poland (8 Mar 2010) The Hot Blog :

"As in the film business, everyone in entertainment media is trying to figure out the landscape. indieWIRE has continued to expand beyond indie, clearly aware that they cannot make enough money on indie alone to keep the now-deep-pocketed doors open. [..]
The only reason anyone pays much attention to Variety, critically, is not because Todd is the greatest critic in the world... but because studios, steeped in The Past, have continued to allow Variety to act as though they have a unique position in the industry and to review first. That has drawn much of the traffic they have had. And Variety - and Todd McCarthy - have held onto that long antiquated idea of how to handle review embargoes closely to their hearts. It has been their lifeblood, however absurd on its face, as "the trades" have been published on the newswires and as consumer content on the search engines for years. [..]
What is our role? What should we aspire to? it's hard to know. But the notion of pushing towards the established power... time to let that go. In our arrogance, we all like to believe that given the opportunity, we could see more clearly, be more aggressive, solve what others have failed to solve. But as we dig our tunnels out of our creative POW camps, seeking the clear, clean sky and freedom, and we find ourselves running into the tunnels of those we sought to emulate, it is a scary thing. How will we find a way out?
Variety, the last independent news-let not owned by a movie studio, doesn't need to employ critics anymore in order to synopsize official studio releases...

Apparently the new business model at the Internet age is to outsource your primary content-generator : critics... because a movies trade paper is all about management and advertising. Nursing film writers, controlling writing quality, running independent analysis is not as important. Content can be privatized, which will soon be owned directly by Media conglomerates themselves, who are much interested in controlling film writing content so that it boosts their sales, regardless for the quality of their products.

Today American film critics realize that the institution called "Film Criticism" is a separate entity from the Newspaper industry. Someone doesn't become or cease to be a film critic when employed/laid off by a media company... A critic is a critic when they fulfill the responsibilities of their discipline with integrity, objectivity, honesty and curiosity. Sitting around giving personal opinions on pre-screeners lined up by the industry (that blocks anything they don't want you to review upstream) is NOT film criticism.

Even Cahiers learnt last year about it the hard way... an independent French journal, living in a subsidized bubble of "exception culturelle", is not exempt from being bought out by a (foreign) profit-driven media conglomerate! End of the independence of opinion. End of the film criticism outlet ran by film critics. Le Monde milked them while they needed content to put out their collection of cinema DVD (approved by the Cahiers logo), and passed it on to the next publisher seeking movie-related content for their collection : Phaidon.

Read more of this by remembering the 2008 "crisis" of movie reviewers lay-off causing critics to reflect on the condition of their job.

Do you think that the truly independent film critics on the blogosphere would want to dissociate themselves from this commercial pattern, from the industrial pressure, from the formated content dictated by studios, from the rhythm of official distributions, from the non-stop blurbs, from the traffic-incentive catch-all, from the offend-none Political Correctness imposed by sponsors... ? No. The new generation of film writers only dream about becoming one of them industry slaves, with a salary, an employment and a shiny label to wear on their ego.

These people look up to the wrong models... they don't care about what "film criticism" really is, they just want to become "that person that is paid to blurb opinions and watches movies for free". All they talk about is : "my profession deserves to get paid, it's unjust when critics are laid off, I have the right to access private junkets, I want privileges, I want authority, I want influence, I want to rub shoulders with Hollywood stars, I want a piece of the cake of this prosperous commerce..." and they rationalize this deep desire with a ready-made rhetorics borrowed from people who had a clue about the freedom of the press and the conscience of film criticism.

3 commentaires:

HarryTuttle a dit…

"Todd McCarthy viré de Variety" par Edouard Waintrop (Libération)

HarryTuttle a dit…

Armond White "Do Movie Critics Matter?" (19 Mar 2010)

only the snipets with an ounce of sanity and without the mindless internet bashing :

"Over recent years, film journalism has—perhaps unconsciously—been considered a part of the film industry and expected to be a partner in Hollywood’s commercial system. Look at the increased prevalence of on-television reviewing dedicated to dispensing consumer advice, and of magazine and newspaper features linked only to current releases, or to the Oscar campaign, as if Hollywood’s business was everybody’s business. Critics are no longer respected as individual thinkers, only as adjuncts to advertising. We are not. And we should not be. [..] Individual critics worry about their job security while editors and publishers, afraid of losing advertisers and customers, subject their readers to hype, gossip, and reformulated press releases—but not criticism. Besieged by fear, critics become the victim of commercial design—a conceit whereby the market predetermines content. [..]
Commerce, based on fashion and seeming novelty, always prioritizes the idea of newness as a way of favoring the next product and flattering the innocence of eager consumers who, reliably, lack the proverbial skepticism. (“Let the buyer be gullible.”) In this war between traditional journalistic standards and the new acquiescence, the first casualty is expertise."

HarryTuttle a dit…

"There is no such thing as print criticism. There are only critics who work in print. And each one has his own voice."
Roger Ebert, 1991