Everyone’s a critic … yes, really Final Project Jim Keogh Nov. 28, 2012Social Media and Marketing Communications
On Feb. 28, 2010, in The Chronicle of Higher Education, a scholar namedThomas Doherty wrote an article titled, “The Death of Film Criticism.”According to Doherty, the reason why film criticism is dying can largely besummed up in two words: Social Media. Or, to put it in cinematic terms:Doherty wrote: “In the mid-1990s, the wide-open frontier of the blogosphereallowed young punks who still got carded at the multiplex to leapfrog overtheir print and video elders on user-friendly sites with hip domain names.”
Well, the bloggers did attack … Thomas Doherty, accusing him of being crankyand out of touch. And they used social media (their own blogs as well ascomments following his article) to get the point across.But has social media altered film criticism? Yes. But first, a bit of a historylesson. Old-School Film Criticism:• Dominated by a select few critics at major newspapers and media outlets since the turn of the last century; the elite of the elite• Writers had little or no interaction with the public• They exercised a level of “purity” in their reviews; movies were about art, not commerce• Critics like these wielded extraordinary power and influence o Pauline Kael, The New Yorker o Roger Ebert, “Siskel & Ebert” and the Chicago Sun-Times o Andrew Sarris, The Village Voice But things have changed …
Introducing Film Criticism in the Age of Social Media
In the age of Social Media, where’s what sites like IMDB, Rotten Tomatoes, YouTube, andhundreds of blogs offer:• The “democratization” of film criticism, where all opinions are valid• The recognition of film as a commercial enterprise (box office tallies, etc.)• Community – the cultivation of conversation among movie lovers. Attending a movie is a communal experience, so why shouldn’t reviewing it be equally inclusive?• IMDB’s “Your Lists,” “Your Ratings”; traditionally film critics rank “Citizen Kane” as the No. 1 movie of all time; IMDB users rank “The Shawshank Redemption” at No. 1. Who’s right, or is there even such a thing as being “right”? There is a disconnect.• IMDB’s Contributor Zone – a wiki that allows anyone to update IMDB pages (actor biographies, film histories, etc.)• YouTube reviews that are progressively sophisticated, both intellectually and technologically; and some are damn entertaining• A departure from the monolithic, authoritative model of film criticism• So IMDB ranks “The Dark Knight Rises” as the 18th greatest movie of all time. Sez who? Says my kid, who has seen it 5 times, and thousands of others who have voted for it.
It all started with Harry Knowles …His Ain’t It Cool Newsweb site introducedguerrilla reviewing in 1996.Knowles encouraged everydaypeople to infiltrate sneakpreviews and test screeningsof upcoming films andhe published their reviews andblogs, becoming theleader of a national conversationabout movies among thedisenfranchised online.The studios HATED Knowles and initially barred him and his minions from theirscreenings, until they realized that they NEEDED him to generate buzz among his fanbase of regular folks. Today, with 2.5 million readers a day, he’s regarded as arespected critical voice, despite his rebellious roots and unconventional methods.
Studios are realizing thepower of social media tomarket their films and areseeing that the years ofmake-or-break reviews bya small band of critics arelong gone.• “Paranormal Activity” cost $15,000 to make, had no marketing budget, and thanks largely to a Facebook strategy to generate interest earned $150,000,000• Last month, Moviepilot unveiled a social media agency specifically to tap the groundswell when marketing movies.• Lionsgate jumped on social media to promote “The Hunger Games,” creating a virtual, interactive tour of the source novel’s “Capital” accessible only through Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, activating the fan base.
Here is the dilemma: Everyone CAN be a film critic, but SHOULD they? Um … no• There are some wonderful independent blogs and web sites, like meetinthelobby.com; and there are others, like the-reviewer.net, that are poorly written. Having a choice is good, but you have to do your homework.• Natural selection means that without a monetary incentive many blogs die off. Several that I found hadn’t been touched since 2009. Producing a continually updated assessment of the film scene is fun, until it becomes a grind. Doing it for free can be soul-killing.• There is nothing wrong with having articulate, knowledgeable – yes, even elite — paid critics who lead the pack. Just as I want smart, well-educated people to lead the country, I prefer my film criticism to come from people who know what they’re talking about and who can express an idea. But can they adapt to a social-media universe? And from this, a hero will rise …
Pulitzer Prize winner Roger Ebert, one of the most powerful film critics in history,beginning with print and television, saw the future in social media and embracedit. He created rogerebert.com, which includes his reviews, his blog (dealing with aspectrum of subjects from film, politics, spirituality to his own personal journey,including the loss of his voice and ability to eat due to cancer), but also blogs andreviews from his “Far-flung Correspondents.” These are everyday movie loversfrom around the world who write intelligently about film – writers he clearlychooses for their knowledge and skills. Ebert also links to his e-newsletter, which,along with his blog, fosters dialogue with the public. Ask him a question or raise agood point, and he will engage. He gets it.
Today’s take-awayThis … Can coexist with this …Social media simply supplies another vehicle for delivering film criticism, butregardless of the medium, you have to be good at it for people to pay attention. Thebloggers aren’t attacking, they just want to be loved and loathed like every other critic.
References• Bernoff, J. and Li, C. (2008). Groundswell: Winning in a world transformed by social technologies. Boston, MA. Forrester Research Inc.• Griffiths, Trent (May 31, 2011). Encore. “Everyone’s a critic.” http://mumbrella.com.au/film- critics-everyones-a-critic-8135• Doherty, Thomas (Feb. 28, 2010). The Chronicle of Higher Education. “The Death of Film Criticism.”• Warren, Christina (Nov. 29, 2010). Mashable. “How Social Media is Changing the Way Movies Are Promoted.” http://mashable.com/2010/11/29/social-media-movie-marketing/• Shaw, Lucas (Oct. 24, 2012). The Wrap. “Moviepilot Launches Social Media Marketing Agency for Studios.” http://www.thewrap.com/media/article/moviepilot-launches-social-media- marketing-agency-studios-61976• Frankel, Daniel (March 31, 2012). PaidContent. “Did ‘Hunger Games’ Create a New Digital Marketing Template for Hollywood?” http://paidcontent.org/2012/03/31/419-did-hunger- games-create-a-new-digital-marketing-template-for-hollywood/• Scott, Karyl (Nov. 5, 2012). Slashdot. “Social Analytics and the Movies.” http://slashdot.org/topic/bi/social-analytics-and-the-movies/• Ebert, Roger (2012). http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/