You can only imagine how old it makes me feel to write this, not to mention how it must make my mother feel that her child
is writing it, but I know that in today's society, I am rather old-fashioned for subscribing to and reading a daily newspaper, the paper kind, and using it as my main news source. I mean, people do, of course, I'm not the only one, but fewer and fewer people get their news that way. I love The Daily Show
, heaven knows, but the idea that it is a primary news source for "today's young people" (I aged ten years writing that phrase) is deeply disturbing.
No matter. Planting myself firmly in the dark ages, I plan to discuss movie reviews, and reviews in the newspaper specifically, as though I was unaware that I could access reviews any other way. As though that was how I would learn about movies, The Way I would hear about movies before they were out. Because I have a quibble.
I'm going to start with what will sound like a non sequitur, but bear with me. Years ago, when I lived in Charlotte, Bruce Springsteen came to town. As part of their coverage (and, granted, only part), the Observer
(not a bad paper, on the whole) sent a reporter who had never seen him in concert before, didn't know his music, and wrote about the experience like Jane Goodall watching the gorillas, only with less respect for the concert-goers ("Look at all these ... people. They're all wearing Springsteen shirts. They're playing his music in the parking lot before the show, all over the place. They're singing along to the songs, every word!")
. Why? Why send her? What purpose did that serve?
Now, movie reviewing isn't exactly parallel to concerts, but there are similarities. From my perspective as the consumer, the purpose of the reviewer is to give me an idea of what the movie is about, what it's trying to do, and how well it does it, without giving too much away. I don't mind opinions, by all means, but the opinion really shouldn't boil down to a contemptuous, "well, it's all right if you like that sort of thing
Actually, it's the contempt that I take issue with, not the 'if you like that sort of thing'. (I can't feel that having contempt for your audience will serve you well, no matter your field.) There are types of movies, as well as books, foods, etc, that I do
like, so if you tell me that something is well done for that type of thing, excellent news for me. The implication that if I like that sort of thing, something is wrong with me ... hmmm.
With Miss Potter
, my friends and I saw the preview and knew we'd like it, so I knew I'd be seeing it*. When that happens, I often don't read the review ahead of time, or maybe I'll only skim it, in case the reviewer spoils any surprises or otherwise gives anything away. When I saw this one
, I knew his feelings as soon as I saw he used the word "twee" (ugh), so I stopped reading and only went back and read the whole review after seeing the movie this weekend. We liked it, by the way, all four of us, and given that no one in the theatre even stood up to leave until the credits were done--done
--I don't think we were the only ones. He sure didn't like it, wow. Must suck to have a job where you have to see movies you know you won't like, and then write about them afterward.
I don't argue that Ty Burr is wrong for not liking Miss Potter
, just because I liked it. It's a great world that makes movies different people can enjoy. For that matter, the same person can like different types of movies. Plural society, people. Nothing wrong with that. But as a writer, does he actually think that not one of his readers, not one, will like this movie? Because unless that's what he's thinking, he's insulting part of his audience from the opening line. "Suitable for children and for women who really know their potpourri," indeed.
I'm not saying I'll quit getting the Globe. I like the Globe, and usually respect it. But in this day and age, you can certainly understand why, given other options, people sometimes take them, can't you? Overall, I think the Globe's movie reviewers do a good job. But every once in a while, they betray themselves. Respect your audience, is what I'm saying.
I would like to conclude with a real non sequitur. I am announcing here that I am back on the stop-eating-everything eating management plan. It isn't a diet, just that I am trying to actually think about what I eat before I eat it. I had success with this before, roughly from August 04 to February 05, when I lost weight, and then I was in a sort of maintenance phase of the same thing, but the whole condo/packing/moving/unpacking/Christmas/being sick thing gave me the excuse to let go a bit, and I have gained back some of what I lost, and I am choosing not to accept that. I like food, but I can eat less of it and still have a damn good life, thank you. You heard it here first. If I don't fit into last summer's shorts next summer, it will be because they are too big. Thus say I.
*P.S. If, like me, you go to see Miss Potter
, make sure you can reach a tissue. It has one of those moments. I won't say more. I really liked this movie! (Virtual raspberry Globe-ward...)