Friday, September 19, 2008

Journalism Majors, Read No Farther

I fucking hate modern journalism sometimes. It's full of redundancies and dumbed-down deliveries of already dumb concepts. And we're supposed to think that this is what we need to be reading. This is what you read if you consider yourself a thinking man or woman. Current events!

Current events like Oprah's crowning the "next Harper Lee" on her show this week.

"I will say that, yes I said it," Winfrey said.

Oh my god. Behold the sound-byte of the 21st Century! You will listen, but you will not hear. Or something. I'm going to kill myself.

And THIS article got the best placement possible on the homepage!

Criticizing the Critics
Tired of professional film critics? Isn't every opinion valid? Wellll ...

By Kathleen Murphy

First, the title sucks. It means nothing. Let's continue:

You know who we're hatin' on here. Film critics. That oh-so-special species mostly sighted at press screenings, film festivals, and panels on "The Death of Cinemah."

But wait...'cinemah' isn't a word! OH, I GET IT. The author here misspelled 'cinema' because 'cinemah' is what the word sounds like when you take it too seriously!

From coast to coast, certain critic types stand out: There's Jabba the Hutt, a barely ambulatory IMDb who's watched every movie ever made while nesting in his mom's basement. And Ichabod Crane, that juiceless, gray beanpole poised to club a harmless piece of escapism to death with some smarter-than-thou diatribe.

I like that the author wrote "some smarter-than-thou diatribe," which is supposed to make his 6-grade reading level audience feel like they're special because they know what a diatribe is, and what it means to be 'smarter-than-thou'.

And who can forget monkish little Gollum, painfully conflicted about whether he loves or hates the flickers. Am I, he stews, slumming in a low-rent medium when I could be swanning about with genuine intelligentsia, reviewing the great American novel or dissecting Broadway's latest extravaganza?

OOH. 'intelligentsia'! I KNOW WHAT THAT IS!

These guys don't review movies for real people like you and me. They do it for their own selves -- and some highfalutin, probably long-dead niche audience with nothing better to do than think about "ahhhhht." Those of us who have lives, high-speed browsers and can't spare the time? We'd rather hit the blogosphere, where my opinion is as good as anyone else's -- and if you don't like it, you can IM uncensored, spontaneous brain-spew.

Didn't we already do the thing where you lamely make fun of something because people take it seriously? Also, "blogosphere"? *shudder* Also, "brain-spew"? WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?!

Critics are Them. Bloggers R Us.

Here's a good idea! Let's misdirect your sense of being excluded from the recognized set to reinforce the idea that blogging is for uneducated, self-selecting 'wits' to publish their worthless opinions and call it Important.
Some could say that I'm being hypocritical here, but I'm not. This blog isn't Important. It's a newsletter. I have, like, 6 readers. Nobody is mistaking me for a pundit on anything, and I'm not asking them to.

Now here are 10 things that the fanboys hate about critics. Each point has been edited down somewhat because I can't bear to read ten long paragraphs.

1. Dream Job

You get to see movies for free. You get paid to watch movies. You work part-time and get a full-time salary. You enjoy a private screening of "The Dark Knight" weeks before my buds and I queue up. And then some of you badmouth Batman and the Joker! Show some love for the folks who keep you in lattes and DVDs.

Points for using the words "queue up", but I would have worded this whole thing differently (which is to say, I would have worded it better). For one, the header is...prohibitively succinct. And the whole point is kind of misdirected, because movie fans don't pay critics' salaries. Whoever owns the newspapers and magazines does. This smacks of those Beverly Hills girls who get annoyed when they don't get five-star service. "Don't you know who I am? I could buy and sell you!" First off, you really need to think twice about telling anybody that you can buy or sell them.

2. Geezer Syndrome

A lot of you have been writing about movies since the beginning of time, blathering on about blasts from the past and filmmakers no twentysomething ever heard -- or wants to hear -- of.

Fair point.

Oughtta be an age limit that kicks in when a reviewer hits 30 (see "Logan's Run"). When dotard brains can't stand up to heavy-duty media bombardment, geezer critics hunker down in prehistoric, analog notions about what makes a megahit.

Ohmygod. You want movie critics to be under 30!? We'd just get twenty-seven reviews of "Zack and Miri Make a Porno", like anything needs to be said about that. Don't get me wrong, I'm going to be forking over my $8.50 (student rates have kind of risen lately!) just like everyone else, but as a major fan of both Seth Rogen AND Elizabeth Banks, even I realize that a Kevin Smith movie is pretty much whatever the title says it is.

Haven't you ever heard of the fierce urgency of NOW?

Okay, okay. I get it. You're 25. You're desperate for a job in the movie critiquing business but nobody will listen to you because you suck (as is evidenced by this "essay" thing). Your mom and dad want you to pay rent now that you've graduated from your 6 year Film School program. You're frustrated. You're desperate.

Geezers mostly mumble to themselves these digital days, cuz print's fast going the way of T. rex. You need to know we're the demographic to die for -- fanboys and himbos romping through our teens and early 20s! And if you can't tell us what we need to know in a blurb or a capsule or an up-or-down thumb, our attention wanders at warp speed.

PLEASE DON'T WRITE 'cuz' AS AN ABBREVIATION OF 'because' ANYMORE! AGHHH. And shortening Tyrannosaurus Rex to 'T. rex' doesn't make you sound hip. And 'rex' should be capitalized. Also, "fanboys" and "himbos". What's a "himbo"?

3. No Respect for Comic-Book and Superhero Movies

Obsessed with movies older than dirt, weird flicks from Burkina Faso and oddball releases that grossed $2.98, too many reviewers have the gall to look down their noses at the super-black, ultra-kinetic, freak-filled universe of the graphic novel.

And a lot of these highbrows are soooo in the dark when it comes to superheroes -- not to mention pirates of the Caribbean. Hunks and mutants and Transformers rock, especially when they throw bloody fits that crush whole cities and populations.

Get with the program, guys. Superhero flicks deliver fanboy fantasies, where freaks and geeks get off on breaking things and having a smash-palace good time -- while saving the world, of course. When real life keeps everything tight and tame, hooking up with Hellboy or the Hulk gives you the chance to fly your freak flag -- without having to pay for breakage.

But uptight dweebs and geezers can't feel the juice. A couple of you even nit-picked "The Dark Knight," droning on about "incoherent action sequences" and "pretentious" storytelling. What rock do you people live under?

Everybody knows "The Dark Knight" is the greatest movie ever made. Contrarian critics totally missed the way this flick broke brand new ground, showing all that deep and scary stuff about Batman and the Joker being two sides of the same coin. And all the supersized explosions and car chases? Gravy, man, just gravy.

Betcha "Watchmen" will go right over geezer heads.

You reviewers whine that it's hard to take superheroes seriously, carping that Super-, Spider- and Iron-men aren't pumped up with complexity of character and moral choice, just super-strength and -powers. Chill out, guys: Wolverine's got angst, Hulk's a raging id, Hellboy's wrestling with commitment issues and what about Iron Man's long, hard road to redemption?

Not everybody has to go up Brokeback Mountain or into some country that's not for old men to get all sad and soulful. I mean, Batman's parents got murdered, his girl's blown to smithereens, and now the Joker's all up in his face with, "You complete me." How heavy is that?

If you can't spot at least 50 things wrong with this one (which I left at full length to give you a taste of what I've been protecting you from), you're not paying attention. I might have rendered you brain-dead already by asking you to read this far. For those of you about to drool, I salute you.

4. Lighten Up

You gotta realize you aren't writing about Shakespeare or Picasso here -- just consumer reports on what lots and lots of regular folk use to kill time over the weekend. Some of you write so dead-serious it's like you think someone's grading you, or civilization as we know it hangs on your every word.

Write blog-breezy, throw in some jokes, sprinkle lots of puns and pop culture references around. What we want are snark and zingers and yuks in film reviews, not head-scratching insights about what's the most recent nail in the coffin of Cinemah.

And can't reviewers get a little more creative about those cute little symbols you use to rank movies -- five spliffs for super stoner movies? Two Manolo Blahniks for a so-so chick flick? That thumb thing is so yesterday.

5. Snobbery

Don't get all up in our faces with wordy, ivory-tower gibberish that's just so much noise to real moviegoers. Who wants to pore over that elitist jabber when slang-and-snark pleb talk spreads over the Internet like instant kudzu?

Why waste my time showing off how much you know about the film's director or what genre it's in and how it measures up to the last 40-something examples of that genre or how the movie fits into the grand scheme of things cinematic?

What we want is a consumer reporter, dig? Someone who can give us the buzz, the pitch, the scoop, the high sign that will get us up off the couch and into the multiplex.

Mostly we don't pay much attention to you anyway -- we already pretty much know what's hot and what's not, from ad raves and blurbs and "Entertainment Tonight" reports. Jacked directly into the action, we don't need snobby critics for middlemen.

Apologizing for his preference for Cinemah over popcorn movies, highbrow New York Times critic A.O. Scott actually had the nads to claim that he's doing us a favor by sharing the "pleasure, wonder and surprise we associate with art."

Don't bother beaming us up, Scotty. What we crave is consensus, write-ups that mirror the majority, the movie tastes of the teens and proles who rule the box office.

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