Roger Ebert, Movie Critics & Newspapers

Roger Ebert, Movie Critics & Newspapers

“I'm worried that newspapers are abandoning their local voices and roles and that many editors don't understand movies. I know one editor who fired a critic because he `didn't like the movies that were selling the most tickets.' Asked if his restaurant critic should praise the cuisine at McDonald's, he said, `Absolutely.'”
Roger Ebert

As a Roger Ebert fan I'm very happy to hear he'll be in town for the Toronto International Film Festival (for the first time since 2005). Welcome back, Roger!

I also share his concerns about the roles of newspapers and critics. Critics in general (whether they be critics of film, literature, theatre, etc.) aren't meant to function as cheerleaders. A review should be a thoughtful analysis of a work's merits and faults, otherwise what we're talking about is an advertisement and the last thing the Western world needs is more commercials for empty calorie products, whether they be McDonalds or Hollywood creations.

As for local voices, they both create and reflect our community. When newspapers increasingly begin to resemble a typeset version of Entertainment Tonight we all lose. If readers want People magazine, they'll pick it up at the newstand but it's much more important, for instance, that Ontarians learn about critically flawed human rights Bill 107. Set to become law on June 30, 2008 it will place the reseach and prosecution onus on individuals who have been discriminated against. With reduced funding, inevitably the Human Rights Commission will choose to represent fewer cases, leaving unlucky others with no choice but to hire their own lawyer, find free legal help or suffer the consequences. Hell, even stories about less weighty matters like an on-duty hawk at Toronto FC's field keeping the seagulls at bay help foster a sense of community.

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