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such a nasty woman | by maryann johanson

“can women save film criticism?”

IndieWire covers a panel discussion in NYC:

In response to the titular question, panelists agreed on the struggles of sustaining oneself financially while working as film critics. “Journalism and jobs of people who write for a living are in danger,” said Slate critic Dana Stevens. “But I also think the web, and social media opened up other avenues for criticism, making it a more democratic endeavor, and less of an elite point.”

“Can women save film criticism as an occupation? No, it’s beyond hope,” said panelist Miriam Bale, who writes for the New York Times and other outlets. “It’s the only place I’ve seen that the rates get lower as you get more experience. But do I think women can save the culture of criticism? Maybe. I notice women whom I knew to be big film fans have this tendency to get really deep with what interests them. I think by opening that up, there is a chance to write different kinds of criticism than just reviews.” Bale also correlated having more female critics to challenging the problem of having few female directors, noting that more female voices could counter many male critics’ tendency to heroicize certain male directors.

Go read the whole thing. It’s not very hopeful, but at least someone is talking about women film critics.

My take on the question: If it’s a thankless, underpaid job… then of course it’ll be left to women to do. Thanks, guys!

posted in:
critic buzz
  • RogerBW

    How do people decide whether to watch a film (or which film to watch)? I don’t know, but it would be really interesting to find out. If people are using the score at an aggregator site, then there’s no point writing reviews for them; if they’re believing trailers are really representative of the film, ditto. But if they have specific tastes and requirements, well, maybe an actual review in whole sentences and paragraphs can still be useful.

    My policy has been to find a few reliable reviewers/critics (ideally people who do a bit of both) and get to know their tastes. As a result of reviews here, I’ve seen a whole lot of films I wouldn’t otherwise have bothered with, because while I don’t always agree with MaryAnn’s opinions on something I can at least work out what it is about a film that’s prompted the positive or negative reaction. You just can’t do that with a simple X% Fresh.

    I like to think that there are people like me who aren’t being served by aggregators and would benefit from finding this place or others like it.

  • Tonio Kruger

    Nice to see former Cinemarati contributor Self-Styled Siren has made the leap from blogger to print critic. If only all such bloggers were as fortunate.

    Oh, well. I would like to think it’s a sign things are changing for the better.

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