The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: “Mediocrity has taken over film criticism” Armond White Every year the world of film criticism, gutter blogging, and awards campaigning collide. At CityArts, journalist Armond White, expresses his disgust at today’s state of film criticism. He highlights the fiasco that ensued when “The New Yorker” film critic David Denby decided to break the embargo imposed by the studio with the film “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.”

As per our prior post, Scott Rudin fires back after stupid “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” embargo bust, we discussed the fact that in the realm of contemporary film criticism, publishing first — or “First!” for those who subscribe to gonzo, “Toldja!” journalism — has its advantages. Getting ahead of the eventual surge of reviews from rival outlets often generates serious traffic, and can help grab headlines for a positive or negative review. But at what cost?

In White’s article titled “Embargo Blues: Reflections on the Film Critic Business,” he starts by saying “Mediocrity has taken over film criticism. Producer Scott Rudin’s despotic response to an early review of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo made this embarrassment unignorable—from the fawning review itself to the pathetic defense from New Yorker film critic David Denby about running the review. Saddest of all is the media’s confusion over the entire mess. The New York Times, Slate and innumerable blogs have demonstrated the decline of critical journalism through numerous writers dithering about the ethics of criticism; envious of Denby’s ignominy, afraid to call it out, yet unsure of their own role in cultural journalism.”

White exposes what he believes to be the manipulation of the media by the studios and their publicity apparatus. “There should be no question whether critics ought to respect a so-called “embargo:” In the interest of maintaining critical independence, they should resist any such “embargo.” The job of journalism is to provide news and information, especially when it comes to reviewing. Maintaining independence prevents the possibility of influence and conflict-of-interest.”

And he concludes by saying “We find ourselves in a state of mediocrity where journalists are no longer willing to risk free access to movies for fear of being left behind on opening day. That’s an impractical concern in an era when movie coverage is everywhere all the time and the only real news is a critic’s individual point of view—if he has one. Denby forgot his pride. Disappointingly, one colleague told me ‘none of this matters.’ But it does matter. It’s a matter of honor.”

A MUST READ – To read more go to Embargo Blues: Reflections on the Film Critic Business by Armond White @

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  • December 16, 2011 | Permalink |

    David Denby writes for The New Yorker, not New York Magazine.

    Get it right!

  • December 18, 2011 | Permalink |

    I am having trouble understanding why this “new” version of the film exists when the original came out only 2 years ago. Heck, I can even stream it via my netflix account!

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