Armond White, film critic for the New York Press, recently made the news when he stated, “Roger Ebert destroyed film criticism.” As you may know, Robert remains a popular film critic, even after the passing of his on-screen partner, Gene Siskel. And so the debate stands – DID Robert Ebert destroy film criticism or is this just another jab between competitors?
Armond White is no stranger to the spotlight, nor is he any stranger to controversy. Most recently, he received a great deal of backlash for slamming the popular Pixel film, “Toy Story 3,” which starred popular stars such as Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack and Don Rickles. Despite its recent popularity, White refers to the movie as “a bored game that only the brainwashed will buy into,” and claims that it “strictly celebrates consumerism.”
While he may not have the kindest words to say about some of the mainstream’s favorite summer flicks, he does have his own following – people who believe that films should be deep, moving and thought-provoking. These are usually the same people who gravitate towards film festivals and the more avant garde productions, but they are a loyal following, nevertheless. Needless to say, White caters to … or shall we say represents… the high-brow, elite movie-goers, as opposed to the average joe. If you enjoy 25-cent words, he’s definitely the critic for you.
Roger Ebert, on the other hand, has gained the love of the general population throughout his long career as a film critic with the Chicago Sun. Starring in the popular show, “Siskel and Ebert and The Movies” (also known as “At the Movies”), Ebert became a household name…and the voice that many would turn to, when deciding what movies to go and watch on a Saturday night.
“That film got two thumbs up!” When you heard that, it meant that you should go see it – It would be new, exciting, fun or funny. After all, two notable critics gave it their approval and you just couldn’t go wrong with that, right? Siskel and Ebert were the average joe’s film critics – we didn’t have to scour the papers to find their reviews. Tada! They were beamed straight into our house, just like Captain Kirk coming to read his log to us, in person! Wowza.
Roger Ebert Did It.. In the Library… With a Candlestick!
Do I believe that Roger Ebert destroyed film criticism? No. Did he lead to its demise or help in its decline? Don’t be ridiculous!
Whether you’re a high-brow movie elitist or some plain jane looking for the latest chick-flick, a movie critic isn’t going to make or break it for you, nor will they guarantee that you will or will not enjoy a movie. This is ultimately up to you. Truth be told, some of my all-time favorite movies were trashed by critics and/or flopped at the box office, so I gave up letting people tell me what movies were worth my time to go see.
What Ebert DID do was he brought movie criticism down a few pegs. He made it understandable for those of us who don’t want to look up every other word, and he simplified it for those who didn’t have the time (or desire), to page through and read an entire review of a movie, from start to finish. Thumbs up, it was good. Thumbs down, it was bad. Even the most primitive of humans could comprehend this and were able to attend the cinemas with an air of confidence.
Sometimes, it’s nice to take a break from picking fleas off your neighbor and take in a movie. Thank you, for that, Roger Ebert.
Two thumbs up!