Professional oxygen-consumer Kevin Smith has turned his attention from his own enormous girth to his terrible movies. Inspired by savage reviews of Cop Out, he went on an Everclear-fueled Twitter rant against film critics in which he declared, “You wanna enjoy movies again? Stop reading about them & just go to the movies. It’s improved film/movie appreciation immensely for me.” He then threatened that critics would no longer be able to see his work unless they paid like everyone else.*
Then there’s this:
“Like, why am I giving an arbitrary 500 people power over what I do at all, let alone for free? Next flick, I’d rather pick 500 randoms from Twitter feed & let THEM see it for free in advance, then post THEIR opinions, good AND bad. Same difference. Why’s their opinion more valid?”
Since then, others have adroitly taken Smith to task for both his turn-off-your-brain argument and his suggestion that any random mouth-breather with a dial-up connection is equivalent to someone who has spent decades examining the history of cinema. They recalled that Smith himself was once championed by critics as he emerged on the indie-film scene.
Now, I’ve certainly had my own issues with critics, notably Roger Ebert. But my recent frustration with Roger’s output isn’t an indictment of film criticism. If anything, I’m acknowledging the importance of champions such as Ebert to both moviegoers and the industry itself.
In the Internet Age, it’s never been more true that “everyone’s a critic.” It takes nothing more than a Blogger account to declare one’s self an authority. Heck, if you dig deeply enough into Rotten Tomatoes, you’ll even find me listed as a critic thanks to a few pieces I wrote on the old Usenet group rec.arts.movies.reviews.
Goodness knows that I’ve enjoyed my share of lightweight flicks. Nothing revs my motor quite like cleverly-produced schlock. I will gladly defend the likes of Starship Troopers. Yet I won’t pretend that my opinion carries the same weight as Kenneth Turan, nor should it.
*Threat, or promise?