On the heels of Tuesday’s news about Village Voice film critic Michael Atkinson being whacked, now we’re hearing that New Times management has also put a cap into Voice critic/editor Dennis Lim. And senior critic Jim Hoberman is the Last Man Standing…by a thread. And as Anthony Kaufman has written,”It’s come time to realize that for those who want a truly alternative newsweekly, throw in the towel, accept the end — the Voice is dead.”
Everything cultural runs it course, and then is no more. The Village Voice has become more and more of a rag and less and less of the formidable weekly alternative paper it used to be for a long time now. I was going to write that “presumably out of the embers of the dead Voice will come something else” but we all know that “something else” is happening worldwide, and that this means less paper and ink and more cyber this and that. The world is turning, the type of highs that came out of the film culture of the ’60s and ’70s are fading more and more, and skins are generally being shed.
The force of corporate avarice in the Lim and Atkinson firings is Village Voice Media, which came out of a merger of Village Voice Media and New Times Media. The chiefs are CEO Jim Larkin and exec editor Michael Lacey and Village Voice Digital CEO David Schneiderman. Village Voice Media owns the L.A. Weekly as well, and I’m wondering if the same kind of shit that’s now happening at the Voice is going to one day happen at the L.A. Weekly? Will Larkin, Lacey and Schneiderman be whacking venerated critics or replacing them with softballers?
We all know that there’s been pressure from the top down at publications everywhere for film critics to lighten up and be more mainstream and not be so scholarly-gnarly with reviews. Editors, naturally, want them to relate on some level with the under-25 morons who’ve never heard of mainstream/AFI auteurs like David Lean or Michelangelo Antonioni (who are far more recognizable than film-culture names like Jonas Mekas and Beth and Scott B.) and swear by moves like Jackass: Number Two.
A side issue but one that’s vitally important for independent cinema scene in Manhattan is, witha much-reduced staff, will the new Voice continue to review eachand every little film that opens there? It’s up New Media to pick up the slack and carry the banner forward.