On Critic-schism

Nobody likes a critic. Critics are the evil generals of evil armies, corrupt and hapless mayors of New York or going to be eaten by mystical wolves in a Philadelphia apartment complex.

Critics suck. They have their opinions about what they like that are different from you, the one who is right. They are like my parents who will ask after we see a movie what we all think of it and I don't have the heart to explain framing motifs.

Because when I stop to think about it, why shouldn't you like Ride Along? Critics are only as good as they are creative. Whether that means going the extra inch to examine how That Awkward Moment is a drama about a serial killer collective or seeing a greater underlying question for film-making in horror sub-genres.

The knee-jerk response from the Internet has always been employed critics don't know how to do their job and see movies, but someone in the comment section could do their job no problem. It's a thing that evolved into ranking and then voting with percentages so the lay-audience could determine whether or not something was fresh or rotten, thumbs up or thumbs down. A particularly telling report from the 2013 New York Comic-Con shows a room of angry commenters given color-coded panels, but unaware that critics liked Speed Racer, The Dark Knight and whatever else it was assumed they thought they alone appreciated.

Critics are also blowhards that don't see popular movies--is what people like to think. They're not wrong since a professional freelance critic can see up to triple the normal amount that someone who goes to the mall multiplex twice a month does. As of January 31st, 72 new films have been released theatrically in New York. That doesn't include VOD premieres. Critics, let alone audiences, can not keep up. It isn't surprising Sam Adams would walk out of The Monuments Men when he wasn't enjoying it and was not obligated to write about it. But he did--to say that he walked out of it and it became content. Reactions from random commenters were there to chastise him for nothing ("Since I've read my first film review when I was little, I have never read a second one  Maybe because I already realized back in the days that some of them must be failed film makers themselve [sic]"). 

Without fail, an audience will search for reviews and criticism. It exists for everything. Not just looking at foreign film or rep affair, but a justification to drop $30 on a Deadpool game or whether or not to get the Blu-Ray/DVD Dual Pack of George Washington next month.

Criticism is stupid according to readers, yet the readers demand validation to not be seen as stupid. It's a vicious cycle that can only be changed through blunt force or by educating the audience further.

Words are cheap. They're as interchangeable as an animated frame or an alternate shot. As content platforms flourish and develop, everyone is literally a critic. It's taken time to find any positive results emerge like Criticwire and its distant brother-from-another-mother Letterboxd.  Most criticism, though, has long decayed past the concept of "true criticism," which is the school of thought that a critic shall only write criticism never profile or interact with the subject.

Even that, however, has been abandoned by its primary drum-beater since people aren't fucking binary.  Audience and reader appeal may as well come in the form of a giant comical dick because:

a) it is attached to a crudely designed version of a famous comic-book character

b) it repeats.

c) it can be re-purposed into any visual gag, which works faster and directly through publishing platforms.

d) click first.

e) see below.

There's an argument that this could happen for any and every film. It should. The die-hard defenders of Ninja: Shadow of a Tear as a resurgence in action film are just as guilty (and correct) as those gathering around waiting for the latest movie about teenagers in a vaguely sci-fi fantasy setting doing the same shit teenagers have done since the Virgin Mary. 

We've evolved past basic criticism into two camps. Camp A are the mainstream audience. These people go see two movies a month, watch even more at night at home on TV. 

Camp B are what's happened because of Camp A. Your "vulgar auteurism"  hawkers  and "[Actor/Director/Writer] apologists" that single out people that don't "get" their viewing. At a greater level, it started with shaming from the Internet ("You've never seen Weekend? You fucking infinite philistine!") that was then co-opted by Camp A ("You've never seen Spider-Man? Only Amazing Spider-Man? You fucking infinite cock.").

Both sides view the other with contempt whether neither seems to ingest enough or they don't know what they ingest. Ironically this isn't at all an issue with television since everyone will freely admit watching reality shows and normal audiences enjoy The FollowingTrue Detective and Nashville in arguably longer batches than films. The Wolf of Wall Street is too long at 179 minutes, but binge-watching House of Cards is acceptable. 

Our problem at hand is this: culture as a whole is indecisive. Yes, I want good original programming and or materials. No, I would not like to pay for it and instead want it for free like my monthly subscriptions I forget about until I check my credit card bill. This inability to choose is what we're receiving as this gels. We use it for streaming video and for aggregating criticism--both high-and-low-end.

The promise of the future has given us many false idols: Second-Screen Viewing was supposed to be a big deal that died next to its partner, the 3D TV. 

How do we unite our camps and go forth into another year? How do we rally everyone together under a single flag? I don't know if we even need to.

But if we did...