Known Johnson

August 12, 2005

Wrapped up like a Deuce

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tom @ 7:04 pm

I think Roger Ebert is one of the greatest film critics of all time. Not that I agree with him all of the time, because that’s impossible, but why I think he’s so great is because I can read any review he’s written and know immediately if the film he’s talking about is a film I’d enjoy – regardless of his feelings about the film. It’s unfortunately a rare trait, but that’s what makes a great critic – it’s someone whose biases do not prevent you from knowing whether the subject of the review would interest you. A good critic makes his biases known up front and doesn’t attempt to hide them. Most critics, especially us “amateur” critics, fail at this, often pretending we don’t have biases in an effort to make the reader somehow believe that we really do know what’s good for everyone. And that’s why I won’t talk about artists that I just plain don’t care about. I’ll never have anything positive to say about Britney Spears or Madonna. All too often critics take the negative definition of the word “criticize” too literally – or too zealously, penning pointlessly acidic diatribes about the shortcomings of everything that crosses their paths. These are writers who use the exposure of their writing to prop up their egos, who feed on the attention they get, positive or negative. It’s a hopelessly childish way to express oneself, and it does no service to the readers of their reviews.

The flipside of this is that because of the glut of horrible critics, people don’t take seriously good critics who do criticize negatively, writing them off as jealous failed ______ (fill in the subject: writers, actors, musicians.) And not only is that wrong, it’s just stupid. Unfortunately, good critics like Ebert get sullied by the presence of these bad critics.

Here’s an example of why I love Ebert. And I do, in this case, agree with him – Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo sounds like an absolutely abominable movie. I will admit, however, that I laughed at the parts about the woman with the laryngectomy and the other with the penis nose. I don’t laugh because it’s funny but more because someone actually put this stuff in a movie. I think maybe that’s what people don’t get about me – I don’t necessarily find things like that funny but I find funny both the fact that others actually do find it funny and that someone had to come up with the idea . . . and sell it to someone else who actually took it seriously enough to back it with many millions of dollars. If the eventual Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo DVD had the meeting where the writers pitch this idea to studio execs, I’d have to own that, because I want to hear someone say something like “Deuce dates a woman with a laryngectomy, and some things happen, and she winds up spraying wine out of the hole! But that’s not all, there’s a woman with a penis-nose . . . “

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