new rules for film criticism I will be following here

Well, everyone, Brian has spoken, and the news isn’t good. He has laid down the rules I must follow here, and he will brook no discussion. So am I now bound to follow his dictates:

• I am not allowed to “judge” movies.

• I can tell you if a movie is funny or not funny, scary or not scary, good or not good, but I cannot tell you why. And anyway, it should be obvious, because we all know that everyone finds the same things funny or not funny, scary or not scary, good or not good.

• I am not allowed to have an opinion contrary to other reviewers, or if I do, I shouldn’t be surprised when people fail to find my reviews useful.
• I am not allowed to write about anything I myself do not have direct, firsthand experience of. I don’t know how I will review cop movies, mob movies, science fiction movies, fantasies, action movies, historical epics, romantic comedies and dramas in which the protagonists are anything other than single, childless women, but this is my burden to bear.

• I must abandon my “extremely New York polarized lifestyle” if I am to have any hope to being effective as a film critic.

• Unless I follow Brian’s rules, I should just “give it up,” because “there are many other talented Journalists chomping at the bit to have the job [I] have.” I must confess that I had no clue that all my “judging” and pretending to know about stuff I’m completely clueless about and being all extreme-polarized-New-Yorker in your faces was preventing other normal people from starting movie review Web sites. But apparently it has, and for that, I apologize.

Before this devastating chastisement of my approach to film criticism here, I might have thought it would take an amazing amount of gall to come to someone else’s Web site, lay down rules for how that person should operate said Web site, and refuse to hear any discussion of it. But clearly, Brian knows what he’s talking about.

So for everyone who has been upset with stuff I’ve written lately, you can rest assured that things are going to change for the better immediately. I mean: Wow, when I look at my review of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, I can see now how all the “judging” going on there ruins the review; how I presume my bitter, polarized, single, childless, female New York self to be able to adequately interpret experiences such as being British, being a teenage boy, and being an underage wizard hauled up before the Ministry of Magic for the crime of the unauthorized use of magic in the presence of a Muggle. Fortunately, I seem to be in agreement with the majority of critics on this film, so I at least managed to (accidentally) fulfill one of Brian’s demands, but really: Did I need to put all that “reality” stuff into the review? Did I really have to preach all that political correctness crap? What is wrong with me, anyway?

My Phoenix review should have read like this:

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is very scary, and I was very scared, and you may be too if you are a childless, single, 30something, female New Yorker who has had precisely the same experience of life that I have. Of course, that’s impossible, because even if I had an indentical twin, her life would not be exactly the same as mine. So when I tell you that Phoenix is good, you should take that with a grain of salt. In fact, it’s probably pointless for you to be reading this at all, and pointless for me to have wasted time writing it.

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