- James Reid
Why Criticism Matters
By James Reid, Arts and Entertainment Editor
Criticism is seen as posh and elitist. I can't defend modern critics who embody those cliches well. They are who they are. Still, criticism itself feels like it is necessary when it comes to the legacy of film. In this piece I would like to defend criticism, not modern critics. I think it is important as someone who wants to be one to find a voice in defending why that is my career choice.
Before I continue I would like to say that people don't realize that critics aren't just New York Times snobs who wrote that scathing review of the blockbuster you love. Anyone who fits the criteria can be a Rotten Tomatoes critic. There are hundreds of lesser known critics who have found a voice in today's day and age.
Art in my humble opinion is the essence of humanity expressing their creative capacity through everything from painting to photography. It is important that we find our history recorded through art because we as humans don't have much more going for us right now. That isn't an insult but rather an observation.
Criticism is the act of critiquing that said art. Well it can be critical of other things also but most popular criticism is art criticism. If film is to be respected as a medium of art then it needs to have the right voices defending it. It is with these voices that people protect and honor the work of modern artists and their greatest works of art.
It is through contextualizing both knowledge of cinema and subjective opinion that criticism works to honor the legacy of what film is. I know I sound like a broken record but it is important that I repeat this over and over. Critics are smart people who could probably push the boundaries of journalism if they weren't writing about film.
Roger Ebert is one of the more popular critics of our time. It is in his writing that I find both the essence of criticism and my inspiration to be one myself. I think he was a bit posh and elitist but in the way criticism desired, not as a cult of personality around finding intellectual elitism in knowing movies. I think very few people live up to who he was.
Creators, even those who make pretentious work, don't deserve to have their work forgotten. It is in criticism that they find the platforms that they need. On top of the legacy of film itself criticism serves to help protect these people from unfair sentences of obscurity. Let me put it this way. Bong Joon-Ho doesn't deserve to have Parasite forgotten because casual people have an aversion to subtitles.
I'd like to also add this. If an industry makes 10 billion a year then it means people still do care about what the industry is doing and that number wouldn't be what it was without smaller movies making some money. It is in the minds of people who hold the respect of critics that critics are able to inspire people to see these movies.
The success of smaller movies is just as important as the success of the big ones. If they stop making small movies then the industry would truly become what Scorsese said even if he might be wrong. In fact Francois Truffaut, a critic, actually made some of the best movies of French New Wave because he had his inspiration as a critic.
In conclusion I believe that we owe criticism more than we give it credit for even if they are being overrun by posh elitists. I believe if we let criticism survive then film will survive, at least in terms of having a part to play in how to record and define our history as humans.