Since film critics' heads began rolling en masse at newspapers and magazines a little over a month ago, the debate over the job's future has ignited deep thoughts from New York to Los Angeles. The discussion turned especially profound this week as a selection of esteemed critics moved on to slapping anyone and anything that would stand still long enough to absorb their blows. Follow the jump for our favorite sallies of critic-on-critic violence:
In the Ebert age of criticism, the Aesthetic of the Hit dominates everything. Behind those panicky articles about critics losing their jobs (what about autoworkers and schoolteachers?), lurks the writers' own fear of falling victim to the same draconian industry rule: Most publishers and editors are only interested in supporting hits in order to reach Hollywood's deep-pocket advertisers. This is what makes traditional criticism seem indefinable and obsolete, leaving web criticism as a ready (but dubious) alternative. ... (Viral criticism isn't real; it's mostly half-baked, overlong term-paper essays by fans who like to think they think.) — Armond White, New York Press
Armond's deeply confused screed makes me glad I quit the Press so that I don't have to attempt to explain to people out of professional courtesy what point he thought he was trying to make. ... His simplistic denunciation of the meaning and impact of Roger Ebert — who has done more to widen the tastes of the moviegoing public and popularize basic cinema literacy than any critic in the history of print — is shameful, and would be so even without the "I wish him well as he recovers" parenthetical. — Matt Zoller Seitz, The House Next Door
I mean, it's really sad that all these film critics are losing their jobs, but I think most film criticism is terrible. And not useful. And frankly, really boring. I read very little of it, and find very little of it to be useful. So it's a shame that my colleagues are losing their jobs, but on the other hand I don't read many of them. ... [New Yorker critic] Anthony Lane is a very witty, very funny writer — and he doesn't know shit about movies. — Nathan Lee, Rotten Tomatoes
Next week: The aftermath! Join Defamer as we break out the dental records and attempt to identify the latest round of critical casualties beaten, torched and cannibalized beyond recognition. No one under 18 will be admitted.