When I was in Austin for Butt-Numb-A-Thon I had a lively debate with a fellow critic about some of my practices. If you’re a long time reader of this site, you’ll be aware that every now and again I’ll get up on my soapbox and will speak out about the behavior of my fellow film critics and entertainment journalists. This guy thought this wasn’t my job; he was partially mad at a hyperbolic (and comedically violent) article I wrote about a friend of his this year, but he also simply didn’t believe that inter-critic sniping helped anybody.
EFilmCritic feels exactly the opposite. Every year the site has a rundown of the Whores of the Year, the critics who freely give blurbs and quotes to movie advertising campaigns, and often to the worst movies imaginable. This year’s list is pretty fascinating (even though I somehow escaped notice despite giving a foul-mouthed quote for Punisher: War Zone), as it shows that former heavyweights like Earl Dittman (minor pun intended) are dropping, while new folks – Bloody Disgusting’s Brad Miska, for instance! – are coming into the big time.
For me this annual year end list is a big deal. There’s nobody policing us out there. Especially in this post-newspaper world there are no editors and no second guessers. And as the value of film criticism diminishes, it’s important for those who actually care about this stuff to do what little they can to fight back against the rising tide of idiocy and corruption.
A side note to the Whores of the Year list – EFilmCritic also keeps a close watch on Ben Lyons, the louche douche who co-hosts the post-Ebert At The Movies. Lyons is essentially the face of the destruction of film criticism, the TV version of the internet’s Alex Billington. He’s an ignorant goofball whose taste in film would be considered suspect if it wasn’t simply non-existant. He likes whatever is thrown in front of him. You can read a pretty interesting article about how much everybody hates Ben Lyons right here.
The Lyons/Billington situation calls to our attention the modern day problem of criticism. Sure, you have whores like Shawn Edwards (who I once drunkenly followed around a party, asking if every piece of food he had was the best of the year or the best he had ever eaten. To his credit, Edwards ignored me), but he’s just there to get his name in print. The Lyons and Billingtons have the same goal in many ways, but they also have a shockingly small amount of film knowledge… and this is considered a plus. We’re at a place in criticism where knowing about what you’re critiquing might be considered a handicap. We want our critics to be ‘just like us.’ You see how well that went when we elected a president based on this concept. Every now and again, it’s nice to have actual experts in some positions.
You can read the Whores of the Year list at EFilmCritic by clicking right here.