because everybody on the Internet is an annoying, stupid little boy

Thomas Doherty in The Chronicle of Higher Education Review is lamenting how “serious writers on film feel under siege, underappreciated, and underemployed”… which is something I not only sympathize with, I live it. It’s unbelievably disheartening to be looking for work — as I’ve been — and find only ads for “voluntary” jobs, or ones that pay in “exposure.” Writing, of any kind, is even less valued today than it has been in the past, when it wasn’t terribly valued either.

Of course, Doherty is unlikely to consider me a “serious” writer. I’m not an academic, for one — I don’t even have an undergraduate degree of any stripe! But he believes that “the most common aesthetic reaction in contemporary film criticism” on the Internet is “It sucks.” Which is an indication only that he hasn’t read much film criticism on the Net.

But wait, there’s more. Doherty deploys turns of phrase he appears to believe are clever — such as “ectoplasmic Web-page billboards” — but that actually just demonstrate further that he really doesn’t know what he’s talking about. I love this one:

The ballast of traditional credentials—whereby film critics earned their bones through university degrees or years at metropolitan dailies—has been thrown overboard by the judgment calls of anonymous upstarts without portfolio but very much with a DSL hotline to Hollywood’s prime moviegoing demographic.

“DSL hotline”? Bwahahahaha!

But that’s the easy target. Doherty also misses the fact that there are Internet equivalents of critics who “earned their bones through… years at metropolitan dailies”: the more than a few Internet critics who, in 2010, have been working in a dedicated way as critics, posting their reviews online, for a decade or longer. (Such as, ahem, yours truly, who began this site in 1997.)

What I and my Net peers do, however, is nothing but “termite art.” And we’re all “young punks who still [get] carded at the multiplex” who “leapfrog[ged] over [our] print and video elders on user-friendly sites with hip domain names.” Oh, and the “Web slinger” is “a man-boy of the people, visceral and emotional, a stream-of-consciousness spurter with no internal censor or mute button.”

I can’t tell if this is intentionally ironic, but I think not, since Doherty thinks DSL sounds hip, but he Godwins himself at the end:

Many film critics would agree with the condemnation of “the spectacle of 22- and 23-year-old boys taking 40- or 50-year-old artists to task without being able to show a sign of technical knowledge.” (Actually, the Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels said that last bit after banning uppity critics from Reich newspapers in 1936.)

I’m 40, and I’m a woman. Am I allowed to take artists to task, or is that privilege exclusively reserved for 40- to 50-year-old male professors and newspaper employees?

This has been your WTF Thought for the Day.

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