“Hollywood’s marketers have become tremendously efficient at getting their core audience to see their big movies. They don’t need critics for that. But critics have a larger utility: to put films in context, to offer an informed perspective, to educate, outrage, entertain. We’re just trying to do what every other writer is doing: making sense of one part of your world. So, dear reader: If our opinions on a movie don’t coincide, I don’t care, and neither should you. I’m not telling you what to think. I’m just asking that you do think.” — Richard Corliss responding to Peter Bart’s 3.15 Variety column in which he trashed critics for being out of touch with the mob.
That final Corliss sentence is a hoot. The vast majority of moviegoers, of course, aren’t interested in thinking, and anyone who goes around presuming that “thought” is some kind of mass-market intrigue or tonic is truly living on a farway planet Movies are about delivering and receiving emotion — it’s what has always made them a mass art form. “Thought” is for the fringe. People today are mostly into being dumbly wowed (via CG flotsam movies like 300, Pirates of the Caribbean, Spider-Man 3, etc.), or being made to laugh or cry. I hate dumbass CG movies, but I’m just as susceptible as anyone else to the other two. Everyone is. But release a film that hints that a small expenditure of intellectual rigor may be needed to understand or enjoy it, and you automatically lose 90% of your potential audience.
Bart’s column was posted more than month ago, by the way. Shouldn’t there be a statute of limitations on response pieces? Shouldn’t you have to write them within, say, five working days?