What We Don't Talk About When We Talk About Movies

A thoughtful post about the fate of film criticism.  Much of this boils down what happens when film criticism leaves the world of print journalism and adapts to the TV — not only in the content of the review but the context of celebrity/insider/gossip in which movies are presented to the public. (Armond White, New York Press, via)

In the Ebert age of criticism, the Aesthetic of the Hit dominates
everything. Behind those panicky articles about critics losing their
jobs (what about autoworkers and schoolteachers?), lurks the writers’
own fear of falling victim to the same draconian industry rule: Most
publishers and editors are only interested in supporting hits in order
to reach Hollywood’s deep-pocket advertisers. This is what makes
traditional criticism seem indefinable and obsolete, leaving web
criticism as a ready (but dubious) alternative.

The Internetters who stepped in to fill print publications’ void seize
a technological opportunity and then confuse it with
“democratization”–almost fascistically turning discourse into babble.
They don’t necessarily bother to learn or think–that’s the privilege of
graffito-critique. Their proud non-professionalism presumes that other
moviegoers want to–or need to–match opinions with other amateurs.
That’s Kael’s “layman” retort made viral. The journalistic buzzword for
this water-cooler discourse is “conversation” (as when The Times
saluted Ebert’s return to newspaper writing as “a chance to pick up on
an interrupted conversation”). But today’s criticism isn’t real
conversation; on the Internet it’s too solipsistic and autodidactic to
be called a heart-to-heart.