A few weeks ago, I tried to explain the ‘audience Vs critic score’ controversy surrounding the Black Adam reviews.
But then I realized it would do us all some good to understand why ordinary viewers and critics are constantly at odds with one another. Although, the so-called audience/critic war is exaggerated. First of all, most critics don’t care what we think.
Publications pay them to give their honest opinion, not to make us happy. Secondly, the number of ordinary viewers that take offense to critic reviews is much smaller than you think. This is a case of the vocal minority dominating a relatively meaningless conversation the silent majority has chosen to avoid.
A small section of the internet holds specific properties in such high regard that they can’t tolerate criticism from what they perceive as outsiders. Does this mean critics are always undeserving of the backlash they receive? Not necessarily.
Studios don’t pay critics to generate positive reviews for their movies and shows. If anything, studios revel in the debates surrounding properties like Rings of Power and She-Hulk: Attorney at Law because those conversations attract interest from clueless viewers.
Studios are happiest when positive word of mouth about their project spreads organically among ordinary people. The role critics play in a movie or TV show’s success is tiny. Professional reviewers only deserve criticism when they permit ideological biases to taint their opinions.
By ‘idealogical bias,’ I mean reviews that praise poorly executed projects because of the presence of an ‘important’ social message or the diversity of the cast. Take Ghostbusters 2016, a lackluster reboot of a beloved franchise that some critics praised because it featured an all-female cast.
I have nothing against critics with an ideological bias if they admit it ahead of time because you have audience members that share their views and appreciate those ideological biases.
I should also point out that those ideological biases are not responsible for the massive divide between critic and audience scores. The biggest difference between most of us and professional critics is our limited exposure to movies.
Critics would often puzzle me because they kept assigning low scores to movies I loved. I thought their perception was simply warped until I started reading their reviews and noticed the emphasis they repeatedly placed on aspects like cinematography that I could not have cared less about.
Then I started following their online content more closely and noticed the number of movies and shows they mentioned that I had not even heard of.
Critics are paid to review movies (and shows). They watch more movies in a month than most of you watch in an entire year. That sort of exposure to content has refined their tastes in ways casual viewers like me cannot fully fathom.
It takes far more to surprise the average critic because they have seen it all, which is why strange, obscure indie titles that don’t appeal to the public normally pique their interest. They are numb to the loud, explosive action flicks casual audiences enjoy.
Does that make them irrelevant? No, because some audience members are equally numb to mainstream entertainment, and they use critic reviews to locate the few innovative projects on the market that fit their tastes.
The rest of us are better off consuming audience reviews. The next time a critic eviscerates your favourite show with a scathing review, don’t be so quick to conclude that they have an agenda. Consider the possibility that their perception of entertainment differs drastically from yours.
Find a reviewer whose tastes match your own. That is the key to maintaining peace in the online entertainment sphere.