Date of Publication

5-2010

Degree Type

Honors Thesis

Department

Communication

First Advisor

Kate Madden, PhD

Abstract

For as long as visual art and the written word have existed side-by-side, art criticism has existed in one form or another. With the invention of film and motion picture techniques in the late 19th Century, a new medium emerged, ripe for subjection to criticism. Writers, however, were slow to realize the immense potential of this stunning new format, and many treated it as a novelty or worse. By the time movies were seen as worthy of serious critical thought, the public had already fallen in love with the new technology.

Now, with the declining state of print journalism and increasing popularity of social media, it looks like that dominant formula may be on its way out. Readers are turning away from printed or online reviews in favor of aggregator Web sites that compile all professional critical opinion into a single number score. Meanwhile, bloggers are saturating the Web with their own amateur reviews, desensitizing modern readers to critical writing. Hollywood, seeing that it can gain free advertising by winning over these amateur bloggers, –generally a much easier task than winning over the critics- no longer has any need at all for reviewers. As a result, professional critics are forced to pander; either to the studios, who will only use the most sensationally positive quotes in their trailers; or to the Internet readers, who will call for the heads of any critics in the minority of aggregator opinion.

To make matters worse, the problems of the print media industry are directly affecting the future of criticism, as well. Many papers, short on funds, are firing their arts critics, instead turning to syndicated columns. With Hollywood, papers, and even readers turning their backs on the movie review, what kind of future is there for professional film criticism?

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