Monday, August 18, 2008


If you check out discussion boards or comment areas of websites that feature film reviews, you will inevitably find a thread that has people lashing out at the critics. Sometimes the backlash is justified: the critic may be too harsh or biased in his review. Most of the time it's just people missing the point of criticism entirely.

There are various types of anti-critic posts but the one that irritates me the most is the variant of "well, it's just YOUR opinion." It reduces the critics' piece to the level of the fanboy posting to defend their favorite actors or franchises. Which is unfair.

When a critic posts his thoughts he isn't just "saying what's on his mind," he is actually giving an evaluation of the film based on certain criteria. It's not just an opinion, it's an informed one. It is a collection of thoughts from a mind primed to evaluate such matters. Consciously or not, the critic compares what he just saw from the hundreds he has seen before. He sets the object of criticism against certain standards and judges it as objectively as he can.

If he does appear biased -- and who doesn't? taste is subjective -- then we respect his bias as something developed out of years of evaluating books or films.

But what's more irritating is when the same line is used by those defending the critics. Saying that the critic is just "voicing his opinion" is, ironically, saying that he is no more important than the average guy who posts comments on websites.

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