The world of music criticism was given a bit of a wake-up call last week when music critic Ted Gioia wrote a piece for The Daily Beast proclaiming that today’s music criticism has “degenerated into lifestyle reporting” with very little actual discussion of the music itself. Since then, the debate has spilled over into other mediums as well with film criticism also coming under fire (surprise, surprise!). It’s true that people always seem to be questioning the value and validity of film critics these days, and some people have an unfair image of critics as snooty, bitter blowhards that are simply incapable of making their own art. But there are some decent points to be made, as evidenced by Matt Zoller Seitz in his editorial entitled “Please, critics, write about the filmmaking” over at RogerEbert.com.
Seitz paraphrases Ebert himself when he says that most of the writing out there today “describes what a piece of art is about, not so much about how it is about it.” His main point is that critics tend to focus on narrative, plot and even celebrity culture as opposed to the visual elements and the nuts and bolts of filmmaking. While you could argue that these writers are simply appealing to the masses, Seitz thinks critics have a responsibility to educate and inform readers about how movies use all of their individual components to get across a message or theme. What do you think? Are today’s film and TV critics too caught up in surface level stuff? Do you prefer film criticism that delves into the “nuts and bolts” or is that too dry and academic? Can someone adequately critique a film if they’ve never made a movie themselves? Give us your thoughts here on Open Forum Friday.