Recently, on a /Film Podcast, Armond White accused Roger Ebert of destroying film criticism. He said that because Ebert had the television show and tended to like more movies than he didn’t like, he was not practicing criticism.
However, critics take criticism from movie goers. Many movie goers don’t care what critics think. We still read what they write, and they still get plenty of attention, but they don’t influence what we watch. Sure, the average movie goer may not be able to tear apart a movie like those who have trained in the industry, but that ultimately does not matter – they still know what they like. However, Roger Ebert might have saved the movie critic. When I was a kid, I loved watching Siskel and Ebert at the Movies, simply because I appreciated the way that Roger Ebert expressed his opinion of movies. If he didn’t like a movie, most of the time, it truly was bad. Sure, it might not be the best defense that I, as a child, could grasp the criticism of movies that Ebert offered, but I had a deep passion in movies even then and feel that these accessible criticims helped shape the way that I view movies.
I would argue that Armond White is single handedly hammering the nail on the movie critic’s grave. White’s contrarian views garner him popularity, but he’s a joke among his fellow critics and movie goers alike. Many people claim that Armond White is a troll, and this includes Roger Ebert himself, after he’d already defended White’s criticism of District 9. One of the more recent examples of Armond White’s being a troll was criticising Toy Story 3‘s use of commercialism, ignoring the fact that it was much more downplayed in the third movie than it was in the previous two installments, and ignoring the entire story at large. Saying bad things about a great movie does not make someone a good critic.
Besides a movie critic, Roger Ebert is a person. That means what he likes is not going to be the same as everyone else 100% of the time, critic or not. In my opinion, he does give a fair criticism of films that can be grasped by movie goers. I don’t see how that is ruining the art of criticism, but instead, giving it relevance. However, Armond White seems to deliberately taking a contrarian stance on his criticism of films, and that doesn’t make him a good critic – it makes him a troll. If we can expect trolling to be the future of film criticism, then I don’t expect it to last much longer.
David Chen. “Armond White: ‘I Do Think It’s Fair To Say Roger Ebert Destroyed Film Criticism.'” /Film
Tom Rosten. “Do Movie Critics Still Matter?” Moviefone
Roger Ebert. “Not in Defense of Armond White.” Roger Ebert’s Journal