Movie critics are only human.
Try as they might, it’s impossible to filter out every bias while sharing their reviews. The best strive to do just that, though. They set aside grievances they may have about the filmmakers, stars and genre.
That’s for the best. Audiences care more about the quality of a given film than the critic’s personal views.
As an aside, this critic has given strong reviews to movies that don’t align with my worldview. Most recently, that happened with the comedy “Booksmart.” I’m no fan of Alec Baldwin’s frequent outbursts, either, but I’ll defend his talents all day long.
It’s why a confession aired on NPR’s “Pop Culture Happy Hour” podcast felt so dispiriting. And, in a way, suggests other critics may have followed a similar path while smiting the most talked about movie in ages.
The show’s critical quartet dug into “Joker” this week, revealing their woke bona fides with every statement. That wasn’t the issue, especially given the media source – NPR.
It’s what co-host Tasha Robinson said that revealed plenty about the current state of film journalism.
The NPR quartet proved equally disappointed by the film. That’s their right. Criticism remains a wholly subjective art.
It’s how co-host Tasha Robinson responded to the director’s recent comments that are worth noting.
Todd Phillips told Vanity Fair recently that his days crafting blockbuster comedies like “The Hangover” may be over. Why?
Phillips name checks our
And the box office numbers back him up.
NPR co-host clutched a sizable set of pearls in response.
“The self pity in that statement, in an environment where so many people are making tremendous comedy that isn’t his brand of cheap, slappy bro comedy … the self pity of that makes me see ‘Joker’ differently,” she said.
Did her fellow critics chastise her for that pose? No. They cheer her on.
Co-host Linda Holmes is heard saying, “uh huh” in agreement as soon as she ties a director’s opinion to the film.
Robinson isn’t finished.
“There’s a heavy strain of self pity, of ‘why is the world such a terrible place to me .. everything that Todd Phillips says makes me see this movie differently and kind of takes away some of the power of it for me.
“Everything Todd Phillips says comes across as, ‘Why don’t you see my brilliance. Why don’t you see my vision? Why are you picking on me?’” she continued.
Now, imagine a critic slamming the latest Scarlett Johansson movie for her Planned Parenthood activism.
“I had a hard time seeing Johansson as a worthy character after seeing her disdain for the pro-life movement…”
The outrage would be palpable, and for good reason. At a time when movie moguls reveal their ugliest behaviors and stars are literally sliced out of films critics are tasked with pushing off-screen behavior out of their mind.
It’s a movie, and it should be given a fair, robust review. The vast array of artists, from the actors to the crew members, deserve nothing less.
Slamming a movie because the director doesn’t see comedy trends the same way you do is no grounds for rejecting a film.
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