A piece on why The Guardian hasn’t reviewed Snakes on a Plane (although they’ve reported other peoples’ reviews) turns into a general rumination on the role of critics:
The media have been full of stories questioning the relevance of print critics in an internet era that has ushered in a new democratisation of opinion. The prospect of babbling blogmeisters becoming the new kingpins of cinema has left many critics in a sour mood. But old-school critics get little sympathy from their internet brethren. The founder of the influential and top-selling magazine Entertainment Weekly, Jeff Jarvis, who writes the provocative BuzzMachine media blog, recently suggested that newspapers get rid of their critics, allowing their readers to share their opinions instead. “If I launched Entertainment Weekly today, I hope I’d have the sense not to propose starting a magazine by hiring a bunch of critics,” he said.
But today, the world has changed. Shared enthusiasm matters more than analysis; stylistic cool trumps emotional substance. The vanguard film-makers of the 1960s – the era that spawned our last great generation of critics – were Godard, Kubrick and Antonioni, people under the spell of the intellectual fervour sparked by existentialism and Marxism. The film-makers with a youth-culture following today – Kevin Smith, say, or Quentin Tarantino, or Wes Anderson – are largely free of ideology; they are masters of detachment and stylistic homage. Like their audience, they prefer irony to Big Ideas.
It’s almost as though they think putting some snakes on a plane with Samuel L. Jackson doesn’t count as a Big Idea.