Knight Errant

Media critics should start, not end conversations

Critics play a vital role in media, and with the internet, everyone and anyone can become one.

Even+back+in+the+early+1900s%2C+critics+play+a+vital+role+in+media.+
Even back in the early 1900s, critics play a vital role in media.

Even back in the early 1900s, critics play a vital role in media.

Carlo de Fornaro, via Wikimedia Commons, published or registered with the U.S. Copyright Office before January 1, 1923

Carlo de Fornaro, via Wikimedia Commons, published or registered with the U.S. Copyright Office before January 1, 1923

Even back in the early 1900s, critics play a vital role in media.

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The critic has existed since the dawn of mankind. Wherever there is triumph or failure a critic will be sure to let the whole world know about it. Despite being divisive by nature, critics are necessary not only for society but for the individual. It is through constructive criticism that we are able to better ourselves. This same rule can be applied to criticism in media. A simple movie review can be the catalyst for greater change in the industry. That being said I wouldn’t complain if I didn’t have to listen to another Youtuber scream about how fans of the new Star Wars movie are idiots without any real taste ever again.

That’s the real catch when it comes to criticism in the modern era. Thanks to the internet it is now possible for people all over the world to voice their opinions on a variety of topics. Everyone is entitled to express their opinions to an absurdly large audience, which is another way of saying no one can ever agree on anything and anyone can be on a God-given quest to preach to the masses about how Gnomeo & Juliet–Sherlock Gnomes is a cinematic masterpiece.

With the internet allowing anyone to enter the industry, being a critic in the world today is very different compared to how it was at the turn of the century. Being a recognized critic used to be reserved for those who had dedicated their lives to a particular subject, but now that the floodgates are open the community has become oversaturated with self-proclaimed critics with overly simplified “I’m right, you’re wrong” attitudes. Of course, there are people who are able to contribute a thoughtful analysis to the conversation, but more often than not they are drowned out by the deafening roar of self-righteous shouting. Ironically many of these self-proclaimed critics have closed themselves off from any criticism.

Being a recognized critic used to be reserved for those who had dedicated their lives to a particular subject, but now that the floodgates are open the community has become oversaturated with self-proclaimed critics with overly simplified “I’m right, you’re wrong” attitudes.”

— Brendan Lempe

I believe this right vs. wrong mentality ultimately boils down to a need for validation on both sides. Generally speaking, people don’t want to be outcasts or to be considered weird, so when they find themselves facing people with differing opinions they may feel the need to prove that their tastes are valid. More often than not this spirals out of control with people taking criticism as personal attacks on their character. For example, back in 2016, some aggressive fans of the movies Suicide Squad and Batman V. Superman decided to start a petition to shut down Rotten Tomatoes after both movies received rather abysmal scores. At the moment the petition sits at 22,833 signatures, which isn’t that much but it still stands as a testament to this need for external validation.

Critics play a vital role in media. Those who are willing to get their voices out there are helping shape the industry for better or worse. However, there is a distinct difference between analyzing strengths and weakness and attacking others for their opinions. The role of critics should be one that starts a conversation that can lead to improvement rather than create petty fights. Fighting on the internet may be inevitable, but it should be over something that is titled The Nut Job.

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Media critics should start, not end conversations