First, skim this column by Armond White. Don't feel like it? Ok, I'll give you a shoddy synopsis below.
Here's the gist of White's article: There are too many novice voices blabbing on the internet and reviewing films. This is a problem, White contends, because these inexperienced voices are nothing more than regurgitated thoughts from the water cooler at work (we have a water trough at work, not sure what century Armond is from). These same voices of the internet masses do not further any stimulating discussions about films, rather people swarm to sites like Rottentomatoes.com, ingest the (according to White) biased reviews and simply spit back out what they've read regardless of what they truly think about the movie. Movies with good reviews will continue to get good reviews because reviewers cave to the peer pressure to fall in line with the rest.
To an extent, I agree with Armond. I agree that the internet and its free-and-easy conditions of anonymity allow for rapid fire, vomit-like text additions. Between twitter feeds and YouTube comment sections, the internet can get uglier quicker than Heidi Montag at a plastic surgeon's office.
But in White's article he's making the case that a few films, notably Toy Story 3, The Dark Knight, and The Social Network, are garnering attention solely due to their marketing budgets and buzz from the brain-washed internet minions. In my opinion, but also in alignment with that damn hype machine Rotten Tomatoes, all three of these films were excellent.
Now before I go on, let me admit I have a horse in this race. A big, fucking show pony in this race. I work at Trigger Street Productions, and my boss, Dana Brunetti, produced The Social Network. Am I too close to the fire to claim I'm not hot? Most would say so. But I'm being as unbiased as you were in your last session of jury duty when I say I'm positively certain this is a fantastic film.
In accordance with White's logic, if I tweet / blog out to my fellow non-professional film critic friends that I loved The Social Network, think it's the best thing since I Can't Believe It's Not Butter and hand jobs (completely unrelated, I swear), the only reason I said that was either a.) I'd read it online, b.) heard it at the water cooler or c.) gotten completely tricked by the Sony marketing department (or for you smart asses scoring at home, d.) because I'm on the payroll).
I assure you none of the above options are the reason I tell people I loved The Social Network. I tell people how great the film is because - wait for it - I think it's a GREAT FILM.
Are the cinema elite the only ones with opinions worth listening to? I enjoy film critics like Peter Travers, Roger Ebert and Armond White as they know the world of film better than I ever will. But it's as if White dismisses the weight of peer opinions, labeling them as a hype machine that misleads us into believing that a film like Toy Story 3 was worth the $16 and a 97% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
White's real issue here is the overwhelming amount of attention he receives for his patented attacks on what the majority of people see as an outstanding film. White seems to think people are so caught up in this peer-induced hype, that there is no way this many amateur film critics, bloggers and people at the water cooler could share such equally high marks for these films.
That's where White is wrong. These movies are that good. The Social Network is that good.
Don't believe me? Go see for yourself. (Ok, that was for the payroll...)