Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Do Critics Matter?

The LA Times says no. It's the age old argument about critics and audiences being out of touch with each other. They usually are, of course. For a brief time in the Sixties and Seventies, critics were taken seriously and held sway with their essays and reviews. People read Pauline Kael and others as avidly as they went to the movies. And yes, that day has gone. But critics still hold influence. The examples of the LA Times are weak. They say "Pirates of the caribbean: Dead man's Chest" broke records despite howls from critics. I don't think critics were that harsh. Personally, I though the movie was lightweight and mildly amusing. Besides, critics MADE the series cool with their rave reviews for Johnny Depp in "Pirates 1." (Not to mention that Oscar nod.) Then they mention the character in "Lady in the Water" who is a critic that is gleefully killed off. Wouldn't it be more to the point to mention the critical savaging that film got, which hlped bury it at the box office? (A rather notable effect given Shamylan's strong track record -- or don't critics get any points for that one?) And then they mention "The Da Vinci Code." Yes, it made buckets of money -- it's only based on one of the most popular books of all time and starring one of the biggest stars in Hollywood. But the movie collapsed quickly in the US. Everyone saw it; no one liked it. I think the critics are exactly right in line with viewers on that one. If people liked it, "Da Vinci" would have made $400 mil like "Pirates" instead of $200 mil, a pathetic total given its opening weekend. Entertainment Weekly founder Jeff Jarvis says he hopes if he started a magazine like that today that he wouldn't be so stupid as to hire a bunch of critics." Uh, exactly what would he do? Just print the emails and blog entries from fans? Since they can't see a movie in advance and magazines have deadlines, would he expect EW to cover movies for the first time some three weeks after they opened? The same holds true for CDs, TV shows, etc. Finally, the LA Times need to be more interactive with fans.
If Variety reports, as it did Friday, that "Batman Begins" director Christopher Nolan is near a deal to remake "The Prisoner," the ultra-cool '60s TV series — I'd love to know what our critics think. Good idea? Or just as lame as using Led Zeppelin to peddle Cadillacs?
Dude, just read Popsurfing. Or this earlier post on the same topic.

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