Films Not Freebies

If you followed me on Twitter during the 2012 London Film Festival launch you may have seen me complaining/ranting about the obsession with pastries that some film critics appeared to have. It is perhaps a silly and rather insubstantial thing to get annoyed by but it really stuck in my craw because it felt to me that this was rather symbolic of a wider issue in the world of film criticism, or at least the insular world of film criticism in London.

More and more I seem to see film critics obsessed with and discussing the nonsense of PR, the refreshments at screenings and whatever free promotional items they’ve received from a PR company keen on getting coverage for a film they’re representing. Sometimes it’s done with a knowing wink and a lot of snark but even then it’s just as tiresome and pointless and nowhere near as funny as those writing about it seem to think it is. This trend also raises key questions about integrity, professionalism and bias in film criticism and as both a critic and even more importantly as someone who really loves film criticism I find it increasingly worrying.

The image above comes from a piece by Rab Florence which highlighted a similar uneasy situation existing in the field of video game journalism. The piece really spoke to me (I highly recommend you read it if you haven’t done so already) in part because it so strongly mirrored a similar situation amongst film critics/journalists/bloggers and also because Florence seemed to be saying many of the same things I was thinking about the situation I am witnessing.

I’ve been wanting to write a lengthy piece about this subject for some time but it’s been pushed to the bottom of the pile by a number of other commitments. In lieu of that lengthier piece I have decided to embed a conversation here which I had, predominantly, with Anton Bitel on Sunday the 18th of November. Over the course of the day I discussed with Anton why the discussions about refreshments at screenings seemed to be so important to me and some of my frustrations.

It is not a particularly deep or detailed look at the situation and is essentially a reasonably light hearted chat between Anton and I but I think it may still be of interest to some. Please read it though with this in mind.

Also, it should be noted that although the conversation spiralled out of a comment by Andrew Jones this is in no way a discussion about him, it was merely that an off-hand comment from him got me thinking about the situation again and led me down the path of debating it with Anton.

I have rearranged the order of the Tweets slightly so the conversation makes more sense in places but the below is the entirety of the conversation between Anton and I. Please feel free to continue the conversation in the comments section below as I am very keen to hear the thoughts of others regarding this subject.

If the embed does not work or you would rather read it at Storify then please follow this link.