In Defense Of Movie Critics And Tackling Fantitlement

While browsing the AMC Theatres website the other day, I caught this comment from a moviewatcher named @junia365:

“Just watch Jason Bourne. Don’t listen to the critics, it was exactly what a Bourne movie should be!”

Her exclamation is one of many that falls under the same “fuck the critics” sentiment that has been running rampant recently. (See: the petitioned shutdown of Rotten Tomatoes by Suicide Squad fans.) This critique on critics is more visible (and louder) than ever, thanks to people like @junia365 who have multiple platforms at their disposal to voice their opinion. And it is fanning the flames of fantitlement everywhere.

Movie critics, since the dawn of time, tend to get a bad rap. They’re often targets of ridicule, easy to make fun of. They’re usually seen as snobs who poo-poo anything the masses find enjoyable. You can’t help imagining a bald guy in glasses with a bushy mustache, wearing a decades-old sweater vest, ranting or raving from the confines of a cozy office filled with books, magazines, and old film reels. But nowadays, there are more critics than ever, from the professional to the more casual. Remember the phrase “Everyone’s a critic”? Well, that’s almost true if you look at it in a certain way. But I think it’s important to maintain some respect for the legit kind of critic.

Fans, I get you. I recognize and identify with your passion. I am a fan myself, despite any accusations of being a film snob. I’ve gone on the record to say that if The Breakfast Club or Clue were to be remade, I would burn down the studio responsible for greenlighting such a blasphemous project.

But fans, you need to put down the pitchforks and pay attention. Don’t hate on the critics who bash a movie (particularly a movie you haven’t even seen yet) and quickly dismiss them. To put it mildly, slow your roll. Instead, you may want to direct your vitriol at the studio system that keeps relying on big-budget, blander-by-the-year franchises and the corporate greed that is compromising the future of creativity in Hollywood. (Brush up on current industry practices HERE.)

To say critics will bitch if every superhero film isn’t THE DARK KNIGHT is ridiculously dumb! We want cohesive coherence - better if it’s smart. And if it’s fun/ funny enough, flaws in logic could be easily excused. But instead, during the boredom, we sit and ponder what’s wrong.” 

- fellow film critic Courtney Howard

Yes, I’ve written my fair share of movie reviews over the past several years for different media outlets (119 if you’re counting). And yes, I consider myself a film critic because I think, at this point, I’ve earned the title. After all, while Americans see an average of 7 movies at the theater each year, I see an average of 70.

And THAT’S the main difference between YOU and movie critics: Movie critics have seen exponentially more movies than you. And because they’ve seen exponentially more movies than you, they have built up a voluminous knowledge and mental library of references they can turn to when analyzing and comparing a movie for the masses. Most of them were probably students of film theory in college. True, some of them may not have much of a life because most of their days are spent sitting in a dark theater absorbing the stories, action, and performances that unfold on screen ― FOR YOU. They sacrifice their time and social lives so that they can inform YOU and tell YOU whether or not you should spend YOUR valuable time on Nine Lives, Kevin Spacey’s most embarrassing piece of work yet, or the nuanced comedy and sharp observations of Mike Birbiglia’s Don’t Think Twice.

Actually, AMC Movie News couldn’t have said it better back in 2015:

For more discussion on the topic, click HERE.

Moral of this pop culture rant: Think of professional movie critics as Olympic athletes. Instead of conditioning their physical bodies, they’ve trained their eyes and brains by watching hours and hours of films each week so they can deliver a legit piece of sound advice for millions of people.

Are you going to hate on Michael Phelps if he thinks someone’s backstroke is weak? Didn’t think so.