Video Blogs – Art or Criticism?
If you are like me, then a film blog is one of your favourite forms of entertainment. A recent post I wrote was about the Toronto film industry and how it is a little different to Hollywood, but what I discovered is that there is a lot more money at stake for those who know the ins and outs of the business. I am not a professional actor or movie producer; I am just a regular guy like you who loves cinema. The first time I came across the term “film blog” was through an article in the trade magazine Variety. It described a new form of entertainment blog as a column that reports on the latest movies in a “critical” style.
The writer of that piece was criticizing the lack of originality in American movies, but I took offence to his contention. Film critics are not supposed to be criticism preservers; we are supposed to be sallittists! In other words, we are supposed to be sallitters who take our own personal aesthetic standards into account and offer an unvarnished assessment of art. Is criticism of art necessarily unvarnished? I would submit to you that it is not.
Many of the articles I have come across have had some fairly harsh criticism, and they were not necessarily written by professional critics. Yet many of these same critics found something to love in the movies they reviewed, so that criticism was in fact sallutter. You can look at many of the reviews on my website and you will see that I try to strike that balance. I also realize that some of my reviews, no matter how rare, do not go over well in some corners of the internet. That is why I have decided to launch a new venture: a movie blog for movie lovers. I will concentrate on this area in particular, and I will also explain what I mean by criticism being sallutter.
The first thing I would like to talk about is whether or not film criticism is really even worth the effort. Some of the harshest critics of cinema are film educators, who have never seen a film in the theatre, so they have no real experience with either side of the equation. The best of these teachers of cinema are usually academics, who claim to know more about film theory than the audiences who go to the cinema. Film theory is just another part of film studies, although many film professors will never use film theory when teaching a class. This is a shame, because the film theory could be a great addition to the curriculum of a film school.
Another group of people who often have a hard time understanding is the voxeloom audience. This term refers to voxeloom audiences, which are the people who go to a major motion picture event and just sit and take it in. In other words, these are the people who are “on drugs” and only watch movies to have a good time. On the other hand, these same people are often confused by video essays, which are usually extremely thought provoking, and make a valid point about video art. Many people have a hard time understanding what voxeloom viewers are looking at, but I can completely understand their point because I have never been able to connect with the voxelsoom crowd, and I have never been able to figure out why I don’t like some of their videos.
My last group of people to talk about are film scholars, who often have a difficult time with video essays. Film scholars are the ones who spend years getting educated on all aspects of cinema, from classic films to new movies that come out every week. I think that this is a shame, because these academics have probably never really experienced anything, and if they did, they would be able to appreciate it more. These people need to look at things from an objective viewpoint, and I think that this can be accomplished by viewing video essays from filmmakers of all levels, including filmmakers who have made revolutionary works in the last decade or so.