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It goes without saying that the internet has done its part to completely change the world of film criticism - however, it's arguable whether its been for the better or worse. The technology provides a platform for everybody's opinion to be heard, but at the same time so many voices can drown out the professional, educated ones. It's obviously a rather divisive issue, but it's one that director David Cronenberg has taken a staunch position on - while aiming a good portion of the blame at Rotten Tomatoes.
The great Canadian filmmaker recently revealed his thoughts about the online review aggregator during an interview with CBC News, suggesting that the site's parameters for who should and shouldn't be considered a film critic are currently far too lax. Cronenberg noted that there are writers - namely those designated 'Top Critics' by Rotten Tomatoes - who he considers "legitimate" and are connected to reputable websites, but added that there are far too many other less qualified people who have their opinions weighted in equal measure. Said the director,
"Then there are all these other people who just say they're critics and you read their writing and they can't write, or they can write and their writing reveals that they're quite stupid and ignorant."
He added that the internet has been a positive force in some respects, as it has provided a way for some talented writers to have their voices heard, but ultimately he believes "it's diluted the effective critics."
While I will agree with David Cronenberg to a certain degree in his argument, I actually think that he's missing the larger issue that comes with Rotten Tomatoes and other review aggregate operations. Those kinds of sites are great for determining what kind of buzz a movie is getting, but where they become a problem is when people simply focus on the percent score and don't actually bother to look at the opinions and reasons for how that score was earned. As a film critic who personally puts a lot of hard work and time into the reviews I write, I hate to think that some people will simply see my opinions as either a plus or a minus to a number that doesn't necessarily properly reflect the quality of a particular movie.
It's interesting that David Cronenberg would be the one to come out talking about this given how well Rotten Tomatoes has treated him over the last few years, as every post-2000 film he has made has received a 'Fresh' rating - but that almost helps his argument given that it doesn't really seem to be coming from an emotional angle. Do you agree with his thoughts about modern film criticism and the role played by aggregate sites? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.