in movies

The truth about film critics 

One of my favorite writers, Nathan Rabin, has an astute piece up at Cracked enumerating 5 truths about film criticism. My favorite? Number 4:

Film Critics Are Not Influential Or Important Enough To Bribe: When DC Films endured vicious critical beatdowns for its massive comic book tentpoles Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice and Suicide Squad, the internet was filled with ridiculous and angry accusations that Marvel was using its financial and corporate muscle to bribe critics into giving negative reviews to the work of its comic book archrival. If Marvel did bribe film critics into sabotaging DC Films’ commercial chances by giving negative reviews, they failed spectacularly. Oh sure, Batman V. Superman and Suicide Squad each garnered scathing reviews, but that didn’t seem to have much of an effect on their box office performances. People simply threw up their middle fingers and slapped down the cash.

Rabin captures how weirdly personal some of the attacks against critics can get. Readers often think of critics as elitist, which is rather bizarre given that the vast majority of film critics don’t make a high salary, and film criticism itself is a dying industry, with critics getting fired from major newspapers left and right.

The only thing I wish Rabin had called out a bit more is that there are a bunch of vocal outliers in the community. Film critics do make mistakes sometimes. They do sometimes judge movies unfairly. They do all sorts of things that sour the public’s perception of the profession. While outliers are by definition not representative of the community, they are a big reason why many of these misconceptions exist.

  • Mountain_of_Conflict

    Point 4 is not entirely true, is it? Critics get special access via set visits where studios generally try to give people a good time.. DC probably does it as well as Marvel, but I think that could count for some as a form of bribery or at least making the reviewer more favourable towards the movie.

    • That’s fair, although that kind of dynamic exists in literally every industry ever (e.g. other forms of journalism, pharmaceuticals, etc.)

      • Mountain_of_Conflict

        It does and it’s of course a much bigger issue in other industries, but it opens the door to criticize the article. Then again, Rabin was talking about the more extreme versions DC fans spun.
        Point 5 and 1 are things the /Filmcast has to address time and time again unfortunately.