Discussion: Is film criticism still relevant?

Is there still a place for traditional film critics in the digital era? Have your say here…

1169333_23981749It’s fairly safe to say that the explosion of the internet has been a double-edged sword for print journalists. On one hand, it has made researching stories, articles, features, interviews, columns and reviews a thousand times easier than it was in the past. Information can be readily accessed with the click of a button, verified with a telephone call, and be ready to go into a piece at the drop of a hat – new leads can spring up and reach the news desk that perhaps never would have seen the light of day before, while email has increased the pace of reporting and its demands by an inestimable amount.

However, it also has its drawbacks. Recent films such as State Of Play have examined the preeminence of print and how it relates to a modern, largely digitally driven world. Blog sites now have the same weight, if not more, than many traditional paper-and-ink publications. Exclusives are sought out by citizen journalists and the mainstream media often follows their cues. Anybody can now give themselves a forum for their opinions, whereas before, writing for a living was very much a trade in and of itself.

A direct result of that is an inexorable and undeniable erosion of what people consider to be accurate and traditional film criticism. It’s fairly safe to say that people no longer look to the papers for their opinions on films exclusively, and magazines dedicated to the study of film and analyses of their performance, such as this one, find themselves fighting a constant battle for eyes and ears against the rapidly burgeoning amount of popular online film sites, rather than simply just rival magazines.

One of the patterns that we have been noticing in comment threads recently, not just at SciFiNow but on other sites, with regards to reviews is how many people claim that the journalist in question doesn’t understand films, doesn’t treat them fairly, or perhaps comes at them from an angle that is no more concomitant with their expectations than someone reviewing a three-year-old’s finger painting with the same critical eye that you might give a lost work of Michaelangelo. The thought occurred to us that this is a very pertinent question in the changing landscape of our popular culture, and we thought that we would open up the floor to our readers, to see what people really think of professional film criticism these days.

So, what do you? Are film critics the product of a different time, and now no more useful than a person with a WordPress account, an internet connection and a ticket to an early screening of a film? Do we still have opinions that are to be trusted, impartiality that sets us above simple fans, and an understanding of film that gives us added weight? Or has our time come, and we really are out of touch?

Please keep the comments in this thread civil, polite, and on-topic. This is not a discussion about the wider scope of journalism and how it relates to the modern world, nor of SciFiNow’s review criteria, but whether film critics still have relevance in our new globalised, mass-online era.