By Isaac Butler
A recent New York Times video conversation between film critic A.O. Scott and the garrolous David Carr has sparked a lot of conversation on the internets about the value and necessity of (espeically negative) criticsm in the age of the internet. Friend of the room Danny Bowes points the way to two very good posts on the Times video and the issues it confronts here and here. Check 'em out!
What seems very strange to me is that Scott's review of The Avengers is not especially harsh. It's not positive, but it isn't mean. I'd say it's a mixed-to-negative review. The idea that because something is successful we're not supposed to give it even mixed-to-negative reviews is just bizarre. The idea that profesisonal expressing the opinion he's paid to express is gleefully trying to ruin other people's fun is absurd, and I think there's no evidence in the review to support the assertion. And as I've said before, there is a place for negative-- and even quite harsh-- criticism, especially if it's well executed. And although i disagree with quite a bit of Scott's review, and liked the film well enough, his review is a well-written explanation of what the problems with The Avengers are.
On the other hand... I also think that some of the... explosiveness of the blogospheric reaction stems from not knowing David Carr's work or persona very well. David Carr is a ball-buster par excellance. That's what he does. Seriosuly. Read Night of the Gun if you doubt me. Or watch his other videos with A.O. Scott on the Times's site. There's a bunch of 'em. I doubt David Carr really believes that Scott was trying to ruin people's fun with his review of The Avengers. I think he's busting chops to get a response. I took the whole thing as a performance of a rhetorical position, one (I should be clear) that I disagree with.
Anywho... read the above linked posts. Watch the video it's all quite interesting.