With the rise of Rotten Tomatoes as a resource for film reviews over the past few years, a lot more moviegoers seem to be placing stock in a film’s average review score as opposed to the opinions of a few specific individuals that they trust. It does make a lot of sense; after all, no one has time to read every review out there, and it’s a lot easier (and in theory, a lot more reliable) to just get a general consensus on the latest theatrical releases. But as a result of this mentality, it’s also a lot more obvious when someone decides to go against the grain. Someone like controversial New York Press critic Armond White, for example.
Armond White’s name has been popping up across the blogosphere quite a bit lately, since he often seems to provide the sole negative review on movies that most other people seem to like. A while back we wrote about how he was the first critic to give Pixar’s Up a thumbs down, and now this week the same thing has happened with District 9. On the flip side, he has also given a lot of questionable films a pass (Dance Flick, Transformers 2, Norbit, etc.). Fanboys have left a wave of angry comments calling his integrity and taste into question, despite the fact that most of them still haven’t actually seen District 9. But is it really worth getting so worked up over?
Roger Ebert came to White’s defense earlier this week with this article on his blog, calling him “the epitome of the ideal critic” (because he agrees with the Tomatometer exactly 50% of the time) and saying that “his opinion is often valuable because it is outside the mainstream”. I kind of agree. But in an interesting twist, Ebert changed his mind a day later and labeled White a “troll”, after seeing a breakdown of the movies he was for and against. Ouch! What do you think? Does Armond White consistently take a contrarian stance on purpose, or does he give valid reasons for his opinions? Is a critic who goes against popular opinion too often no longer relevant to the discussion? Does Rotten Tomatoes encourage a herd mentality? Give us your thoughts here on Open Forum Friday.