Thursday, November 26, 2009


So it's Thanksgiving, and I've just wrapped up a fine meal and am feeling pretty stuffed. Soon to be extended family is coming over soon, so we have to get ready for that, and my time is short. I'd hoped to have seen Up at this point (that was why I brought it with me), but that doesn't look like it's in the cards.

As I have a little time, I thought I might begin discussing something I hope to give considerable attention to in the next few weeks. I've been thinking a lot about the future of film theory and criticism. Much of the material we study in classes comes from the literature of the sixties and seventies, of the Cahiers du Cinema French Criticism or the Film School Movement in the U.S. (like Paul Schrader's Notes on Film Noir), with a dash of more recent work from the eighties and periodically the nineties.

In twenty years, though, the critical market it going to be flooded with mostly disregarded but nevertheless occasionally insightful work from web sites, forums, and blogs. The irony does not escape me that Cap'n Howdy's Blogorium will no doubt be one of these casualties of the critical community, but what are we to make of the democratization of film criticism.

Simply because more voices are allowed to speak at equal volume with broader reach does not necessarily negate all of them, does it? Are we to throw the baby out with the bath water for no reason better than "well, most of them have nothing to say or do it very badly"? I cannot argue with that point, because let's be honest - most of online criticism is handled with the maturity of a playground spat, but that doesn't mean all internet writing is inherently worthless.

On the other hand, I don't know how much of the work being done by people in their basements or attics or bedrooms would be welcome in institutions of higher learning, since the ivory tower perception is that "if they can't be published by someone with credentials, they have no valid point". Sometimes that's true. I'd like to think that much of what I do here, whether influenced by what I read or did not read, has merit and is insightful.

Even that it adds to the discourse about cinema, but I recognize that I have neither the authority nor the credentials to back it up. Does that mean writing a blog about film is a fool's errand? I'd certainly like to believe not, otherwise the last five years have been a waste of my time, and yours.

At any rate, I'll return to this at some other time. Happy Thanksgiving, folks. Don't get up early and go into murderous rages for the latest do-hickey or shiny thing. It's not worth it.

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