So blue-collar commenters who complain that movie critics are out of touch with their lives aren't entirely wrong. Alaskan fishermen and people for whom a grueling day at work involves watching six movies at Sundance don't inherently have a whole lot in common, lifestyle-wise (although they both smell like fish). But if they realized how much they had in common in terms of money and financial uncertainty, they might have a little more compassion and understanding for each other and their viewpoints.
If You Think A Critic Is Judging Your Taste, That Has More To Do With You Than The Critic
Commenters have a disconcerting tendency to see criticism of movies, or music, or books, or TV shows they love as a personal attack on them, their intelligence, and their taste. The thinking seems to go "Oh, because I lost my shit laughing like a maniac at Larry The Cable Guy: Health Inspector, you think you're better than me? And because I feel asleep during Brokeback Mountain, you think I'm some kind of dumb hick?"
Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for The Walt Disney Family Museum
No, although I think you might actually be Larry the Cable Guy ...
On some level, I understand this weirdly antagonistic approach to film reviews. Critics and non-critics approach moviegoing from sharply different angles. A film critic is seeing a movie for free for the purpose of reviewing it. They're at work. They do not have the luxury of turning off their brains, as commenters often encourage them to do, because they will need that brain to analyze the film in a critical manner, while also never losing sight of the joy of the filmgoing experience. A moviegoer, in sharp contrast, almost invariably refinanced their house to see a film they have already decided is worth a sometimes-steep investment in money and time. They go to movies because they expect them to be good. Since nobody wants to feel like an idiot who wastes their time and money on garbage, the average moviegoer has a stake in the film that the critic does not.
But despite this seeming disparity, critics and non-critics all have the same goal: They want movies to be good. When I was a critic, hope sprung anew every time I would sit down in a theater seat or click an online link. And I made it a point to always review films and not audiences. When I panned Joe Dirt 2, for example, I was not making a withering statement about the intelligence of Joe Dirt 2 fans. I was merely giving my own subjective experience of watching Joe Dirt 2 on my laptop on one weird day in 2014. If you think that I'm personally attacking your taste or saying that you're stupid because we disagree on the merits of a particular film, you're vastly misunderstanding what a movie critique is in the first place.
If there's one thing to take away from this, it's that. If there are two things, it's that and the "attractive, with amazing genitals" part.
Many film reviews are written in the third person. This eliminates a lot of self-indulgence, but it can also lead to readers thinking the critic is delivering their judgment from on high, as if it were the incontrovertible truth about a movie's worth and not just one person's opinion when they wrote it, possibly on tight deadline, possibly at the end of terrible, exhausting day. And sure, critics take themselves seriously, sometimes to a fault, but that's a measure of how deeply committed they are to doing their jobs, despite the total lack of security and sour contempt from a strange alliance of filmmakers, actors, and the public at large. And like you, they are bitterly disappointed when filmmakers make such poor use of such a miraculous medium.
So the next time you see a movie review that fills you with rage, put yourself in the sweaty, uncomfortable skin of a movie critic. You might just find yourself overcome with a strange feeling known as "empathy." Empathy is a quality far too rare in our strange contemporary world, yet it's one you will find in the very best film critics, as well as the very best films. I'm talking about films like Citizen Kane. That's a good one. I would go so far as to say that it's even better than Joe Dirt 2. But that's just one man's opinion, and hell, I ain't even no damn film critic anymore.
Think Nana and Pop-Pop's loving 60-year monogamous relationship is quaint and old-fashioned? First off, sorry for that disturbing image, but we've got some news for you: The monogamous sexual relationship is actually brand-new, relative to how long humans have been around. Secondly, it's about to get worse from here: monkey sex.
On this month's live podcast, Jack O'Brien and the Cracked staff welcome Dr. Christopher Ryan, podcaster and author of Sex At Dawn, onto the show for a lively Valentine's Day discussion about love, sex, why our genitals are where they are, and why we're more like chimps and bonobos than you think.
Get your tickets here.
For more, check out 4 Ways Pop Culture Critics Have Made Themselves Obsolete and 5 Reasons It's Now Impossible To Tell If A New Movie's Good.
Subscribe to our YouTube channel, and check out Times People Reacted Crazily To Critics, and watch other videos you won't see on the site!
Also follow us on Facebook. It's all good.