Blogging, Criticism, and Niche Audiences
Here’s an article from Chuck Tryon’s blog, on the increasingly important role of blogging with regards to independent film.
Blogging, Film Criticism, and Niche Audiences
by Chuck Tryon | August 6th, 2009
One of the ongoing questions I’ve been thinking about for a couple of years is the role of blogging in reshaping film criticism. It’s a topic I tried to address in my book, particularly through the lens of the opposition between professional and amateur critics and the role of blogging in both directing attention to movies and in creating community around shared interest in movies. But as I was writing that chapter (and especially as I look back on it now), I can’t help but feel as if I was aiming at a moving target of sorts, as the various practices of film reviewing change over time. With that in mind, I continue to be interested in some recent discussions of the role of reviews in shaping film culture.
Part of that entails a shift in the status of popular film criticism. A number of critics and film journalists have recently pointed out that after a failed reboot with younger critics, At the Movies, the show that introduced audiences to Siskel and Ebert, has now revamped, hiring veteran film critics, A.O. Scott and Michael Phillips. As Karina points out, drawing from an observation by Patrick Goldstein, ABC’s decision to hire Scott and Phillips tacitly acknowledges that the audience for this type of format is typically middle-aged (although Goldstein hastens to add that a show like At the Movies could find new life on the web). Although the TV audience may be aging, one of the other points here may be that such shows (or reviews) now function best at the level of the niche audience, whether that’s a local readership or a group interested in a certain genre of film, such as the ongoing and borderline exhausting debates over Mumblecore: is it a genre? is it dead yet? is it killing (or saving) indie? The selection of Scott and Phillips shows that there is some room for intelligent conversation about film, but a show like At the Movies would benefit from engaging its online audience, not antagonizing it, especially when audience taste in movies may or may not match up with box office totals.
One of the more interesting discussions of film criticism has focused on Paramount’s decision not to screen G.I. Joe for most film critics, taking the film to the “heartlands” with special screenings near Andrews Air Force Base and for web critics known to be friendly to action films (such as CHUD.com). Continue reading →