Are movie critics journalists? Reviews for “Wonder Woman 1984” suggest many are not.
By Kent R. Kroeger (December 31, 2020)
A friend of mine from graduate school — whose opinions I trusted, particularly when it came to movies and popular culture (for example, he introduced me to South Park)— shocked me one day when he told me he hated The Godfather.
How can someone who loves movies hate The Godfather?! How could someone so well-informed — he is today a recognized expert in the role and social importance of myth-making —be so utterly wrong?
The answer is quite simple: Danny prided himself on being a critic and he had a genuine problem with The Godfather, particularly the acting and dramatic pacing. [A similarly harsh critique of The Godfather was written in 1972 by Stanley Kauffmann of The New Republic.]
The reality is, thoughtful people can have dramatic differences in opinion, especially when it comes to things as subjective as movies and entertainment. [I love Monty Python and my Stanford PhD wife thinks they are moronic. Both opinions can be correct.]
Still, I’m convinced if you put 100 well-educated movie critics in a room to discuss The Godfather, 95 of them would say the movie is an American classic, and most would probably put one or both of the first two Godfather movies in the Top 20 of all time. The ‘wisdom of the crowd’ represents something real and cannot be ignored.
At the same time, those five Godfather-dismissing critics are no less real and their opinions are no less meritorious — assuming they aren’t pursuing an agenda unrelated to judging the quality of The Godfather.
But that is the problem I fear contaminates too many movie reviews today. Movie critics, by training and platform, are ‘opinion journalists.’ As such, they filter their opinions through a desire to please (impress) an immediate social circle (and bosses), as well as an influence from the mood of the times. We all do that, as it is only human.
But good journalists, including movie critics, fight that tendency — or, at least, I believe they should make the attempt.
In the case of movie criticism, to not do so risks compromising the value of the critiques. At best, it renders the…