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Film critics and the world of blogs

Andrew Pulver has written a piece in The Guardian on a BAFTA debate about film critics and the “blogosphere”.

Last night’s Guardian Film Forum at Bafta in London took as its subject “the role of the film critic in the digital age”. Against a backdrop of internet enthusiasm for all things cinematic (which goes back practically to the inception of the world wide web) and old media’s equally enthusiastic embrace of blogging (what you’re reading now would not exist otherwise) – we ask the question: where does that leave the film critic?

Peter Bradshaw deserves credit for his forward thinking stance:

The Guardian’s film critic Peter Bradshaw, the next panellist along, welcomed the rise of the blogger. “I envy the blogger’s freedom,” he says. But in terms of what he writes, he says, it’s not changed the pressure. “You have to fight your corner. It’s the same as it’s always been.”

There is a longer discussion to be had, but I think some people don’t get how rich the online film experience can be. Not only is there a lot more information available through sites like the IMDb but there is more of a conversation going on. Writers such as Rachel Cooke in The Observer seem to hate this development and pigeonhole “bloggers” as certain type of faceless idiot but then she is highly selective in the websites she quotes from.

This is not to say newspapers and magazines should (or will) die out as sources of information and opinion about film. It is just that they should adapt their current skills to a new medium that has a lot of benefits for people who love the medium.

It always makes me scratch my head when old school sceptics (who sometimes seem offended by the very existence of computers) assume anything written about films on the Internet is a geeky discussion at Aint It Cool.

Londonist make some excellent points on this in their reaction to the event:

It was announced last night that BAFTA would be producing a podcast of the event that will be online in several weeks time. Now while we didn’t see anyone liveblogging the event, we did notice remarks were being Twittered instantaneously from a few mobile phones. So perhaps the easiest thing the old guard can do is spend a little more time online to learn exactly what it is that the kids are up to. You won’t get a level playing field if we’re not playing the same game.

What we found frustrating was that both members of the panel and the audience had an incredibly unsophisticated knowledge of blogging and online journalism. More than once online writing seemed to conjure up an image of lonely spotty teenage fanboys, wanking in bad grammar about the movie they had just seen, in between whining posts about how misunderstood they are.

These kind of discussions can degenerate into a pointless argument about how technology is destroying decent journalism (or vice versa) but it is worth checking out the original article and – just as importantly – the comments section beneath it.

> The Londonist with their take on the subject
> A previous article by me on this whole debate