the candler blog

“Do not let studios make you foot soldiers”

Criticism, Movies

This afternoon, writer Ken Lowery took to Twitter to vent a bit about movie criticism and the reliance on box office as a conversation point. It’s an insightful read.

I’ve compiled his tweets over at Storify and organized them below (with permission). The sentences are linked to corresponding tweets. Taken together, they tell the story of the perversion of criticism and fandom into formidable marketing tools. It makes for a great read.

For God’s Sake Burn Down Rotten Tomatoes

I think you guys know I love movie criticism. I really do. I take it seriously and value arts criticism in general as absolutely necessary. But Rotten Tomatoes is the fucking pits. Find critics you like and/or trust (for variable definitions of “trust”); read them; be content.

It’s not a game. It’s not a race. Do not let studios make you foot soldiers in their dick-measuring wars. Box office does not matter. Aggregate percentages and star ratings – and no critic worth their salt likes those things – do not matter. What did it do to you? That is what matters.

I will hate Harry Knowles forever because he was INSTRUMENTAL in getting sentimental nerds turned into street teams for movie PR machines. Why the FUCK should we care about opening weekend B.O.? And yet we do. We act like we’re shareholders and not just another fucking mark. You didn’t get brought onto the team when you figured out per-screen averages, folks. You got BOUGHT. And usually all it took was some cool little geegaws with a fucking logo on ‘em.

I get it – getting into the guts of why something moved you how it did is hard work, and arguments about quantities are so much easier. We can theorize and bullshit about same-day foreign premieres or whatever-the-balls because it’s something like hard data. (It isn’t, really, but it FEELS like hard data, which makes it easier to compare A to B.) I swear to you: NONE OF THAT MATTERS.

My personal metric for caring about box office is “do people I like get to keep doing what they want to do?” And that is it. To toot my own horn, I think that’s a pretty damn good metric.

OK, lots of eloquent messages rolling in but I just got called into a meeting. Brb. Just remember: This is part of the overall plan to make you care more about PRODUCT than about the PEOPLE MAKING IT. This is not an accident

(h/t Rafi.)

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