Reader Judy asks:
Furious D , I am going off topic here. You have been good about answering my questions and so I have another one for you,this time the topic is film critics on the internet. Re: Rotten Tomatoes and posted film ratings and who does the posting. What sort of credentials does a film critic have to have? These poster critics seem to vary from film to film, you know a different crowd each time.So what about the quality of criticism?I am not impressed with their analysis overall.As for Rotten Tomatoes, I believe the Rotten Tomatoes staff goes through the hundreds, if not thousands of TV, newspaper, and internet film critics to put together their own coagulated ratings. Exactly how they do it probably involves hundreds of elves and a very fast internet service.
As for your main questions about film critics the answers are:
1. People don't need any sort of formal credentials to be a film critic. All they need is an opinion, and a newspaper, magazine, TV show, website, blog, or street-corner to shout it from.
2. The Simpsons were right: Leonard Maltin really is the best looking of the bunch.
3. The majority of critics found on movie posters either work for publications/shows/websites owned by the studios parent company, or they are culled from a rotating roster of local/syndicated TV and newspaper entertainment reporters in exchange for spots on those junkets where they get 5 minutes to interview Megan Fox about if she'll be doing any nude scenes soon.
4. And if those safe critics don't drop a nugget to put on a poster: there was once a case, so far, of a critic who was literally made up by the studio's publicity department. His name was David Manning, and he was made up by someone at the studio to drop quotes for their movies.
5. There is no way to measure the quality of critics, their criticism, or even if they have a background or knowledge of film, film theory, or film history, and it usually takes some investigation to see if they're a real person, and not just a made up name on an article... or blog.
Now I actually knew one of Canada's first full-time professional film critics when I was in film school. His name was Gerald Pratley, and when he came to Canada from England in the 1940s, he loved movies & started doing reviews and started getting paid for them. He once told me that the man who previously had the film critic job with CBC Radio was a sports reporter who did little reviews of what he saw that week for extra money. Mr. Pratley decided that he needed more than just an opinion, he needed knowledge, and educated himself on how films are made, their history, and the visual/audio language that makes films art instead of just pictures and sounds slapped together.
That education made him an excellent critic, and teacher, and a standard by which I tend to judge all film critics. Very few meet that standard.
But, like film criticism itself, my opinion is just that, an opinion, and, also like film criticism, extremely subjective.
I hope I answered your question.