Do movie critics matter?
That’s a question I’ve been asking myself lately.
Since it’s almost Halloween, I’ve been thinking about one of my favorite horror movies: Evil Dead (2013).
The movie got mixed reviews. And the critics whose point-of-view I trust the most either disliked it or didn’t see it.
This post isn’t me saying “The critics are wrong!”
This post is me asking “How much stock should people put in movie critics?”
Because, as the old saying goes: “Different strokes for different folks.” i.e.: Different things appeal to different people.
I don’t often agree with Movieguide, and I won’t be talking about Movieguide to the extent that I have in the past, but there is some truth in the following words:
…I’ve found some immense spiritual satisfaction and cinematic enjoyment watching faith-based movies. If you’re a Christian, and you hate Christian movies, maybe it’s time to accept that many people do love them, and have laughed, cried and had emotional experiences because of them. Ultimately, regardless of how you feel about the message and the way the message is being delivered, those movies may actually be good movies because of all that.
~ Please Stop Attacking Christian Movies for the Wrong Reasons
What is the “truth” that I have found in those words? This:
What is horrible and ultimately without value to one person can be well-made and thought-provoking to another.
I ultimately think Ben Kayser is wrong. But that doesn’t mean that he isn’t right to some extent.
Movie critics have changed my life.
It’s because of critics like Steven D. Greydanus and Jeffrey Overstreet that I discovered movies that changed my life for the better.
And it’s because of critics that my perspective on stories in general changed.
The notion that there is a difference between portraying evil and condoning evil blew my mind.
It made me appreciate books and movies that I would have condemned as “trash” because, as a result of that revelation, I was able to see that the evil on the screen (or on the page) was being portrayed, but not condoned: I was able to see that a movie/book was saying:
“See ___? Don’t do ___!”
Do movie critics matter?
Yes and no.
On the one hand: Yes. A critic’s insight into storytelling in general and movies in particular can leave you going “I never thought of it like that before…”
On the other hand: No. You have your way of looking at movies. A way that, ultimately, is under your own control — not under the control of an outside influence like a critic: The point-of-view of your favorite critic(s) will not always be your point-of-view. What is important to think about is: Are the stories I’m experiencing at the movies, and the way I choose to interpret those experiences, ultimately helping me or harming me?
So, the next time you watch a movie, ask yourself:
“What do I see?”