Professional Thumbs

The year is 1985.

A young Anthony sits crossed-legged in front of the television.

The flickering images flashing across his eyes barely register in his stunned mind.

Leonard Maltin just gave Ghostbusters a bad review.

Indeed, this is a story of great trauma from my childhood. A highly-positioned critic just pooped on what I, as a nerdy 11-year-old, thought was … the most awesomest movie ever!

It was an artistic betrayal I’ve never really gotten over.

Kinda like when Family Ties “jumped the shark” and added another kid, some things are hard to forgive.

But any way you slice it, being a critic has to be a bum gig.

Constantly walking the line between satisfying and peeing people off, always being in a position of polarizing opinions – it’s gotta be a little stressful.

I’m sure Ebert gives his ulcers daily workouts, trolling though rabid angry e-mails.

“How dare you say Deuce Bigalow was aggressively bad! Rob Schneider is a modern genius!”

And now, thanks to modern social media, all our professional “thumbs-downers” get to read everyone else’s opinions – on theirs. I’d make an easy bet there are people out there who make livings off of counter-reviewing. That must drive them nuts.

But if I spent a lot of blood, sweat and tears into establishing myself as a well-respected critic, reading folks’ misspelt blog entries on how much you suck because you think Twilight is garbage – well that would make me loco too.

No one can really answer who is genuinely qualified to criticize – anything. But I think we all agree, they have a purpose.

We’ve made some arbitrary rules about who would be qualified to stand watch against the horde of artistic pap.

In some cases, it’s not even who’s handy, it’s who wants to take on the responsibility. And the joy of the internet means we can turn these critics into pariahs at the smallest disagreement.

Ghostbusters!?! Maltin, this is Ghostbusters!!!

But you can’t stay mad at Leonard forever.

It’s safe to say that there’s an equal amount of good art as there is crap – a gargantuan amount of both. If someone wants to apply critical reason to sift through it all, to try and honestly point out some gems (or turkeys), then more power to them. It’s a job I wouldn’t want to take – especially in a small town.

Even in a place like Whitehorse, which usually thrives on word-of-mouth opinion, the critic risks a lot of hairy-eyeballs on their daily trot down Main Street. But their job is still important.

A great number of people like to have a soft cushion between themselves and the perceived subjectivity of the art world. I’m one of ’em.

I generally like to know whether or not I’m about to spend money on something I’m not going to like. I put my trust in certain people who know much more on the subject to give me a guiding hand, to help me wade through murky waters.

To make sure I never again see anything with the name “Avatar” in it.

A critic’s job isn’t to choke production of art, but in a way refine it.

And at the end of the day, you can still disagree.

I mean, c’mon, Bill Murray alone for cripes sake!

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