Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Lights, Camera, Faction!

*Today's post is courtesy of Marianna over at Gatochy's Blog.

When you enjoy movies you also enjoy talking about them, and reading about them, and anything that has to do with the subject because you enjoy it per se. So naturally a critic's opinion is interesting to a movie fan. Even if you don't always agree with them or share the same taste it can still be an enjoyable and even fascinating experience to see things through someone else's eyes.

However, I never agreed with allowing critics to see movies ahead of the public -- one thing is for someone to have a different opinion from mine; quite another is for them to be given the privilege of forming an opinion and forcing it on me before I've had a chance of forming an opinion of my own.

Fortunately, it seems critics are losing this privilege, and not a moment too soon.

From PREMIERE June 2006:
"It's come to this: After more than 20 years of turning his thumb up or down, Roger Elbert has been forced to whip out a new extremity.* Sitting alongside critic Richard Roeper on their TV show, he's been wagging a 'finger of shame' for the past year when a studio doesn't provide them early access to a movie to review. So far in 2006, there's been a disturbing uptick in the trend: Eleven films opened without review screenings, as opposed to just two over the same period in the previous year. 'I wave my finger back and forth, and we say, 'The studio doesn't think this movie is good enough to be seen by movie critics, but they think it's good enough to be seen by you,' Elbert tells me, sounding more amused than annoyed."
The whole article is terrible, but my problem is not with this one critic in particular, but rather with the whole concept he stands up for.

I can accept the idea of an opinion maker in politics, for instance. Politics is a complicated subject, one where you shouldn't make judgments based on a gut felling, but rather on knowledge and reason. It can be useful for a voter to seek the opinion of someone who is better informed and wiser and more experienced. After all, who you vote for has the power to make life altering, sometimes world altering, decisions.

But art is just instinct and taste and reacting to something on a gut level, therefore no one should have the right to interfere with that process, and manipulate how you react to a work of art before you've experienced it first-hand. I don't know whose interests studios serve when they allow critics to see a movie before the rest of the world, but it's certainly not the public's, so the sooner this changes the better.

* No, I did not make that up, I swear.


Blogger Jeremy Barker said...

But the studios aren't ending screenings for all movies, just films they thinks critics won't like. The rest of the time they are more than happy with the free publicity -- hence all the critic quotes on posters and ads.

Friday, June 16, 2006 1:00:00 AM  

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