Having young people read a variety of reviews could get them interested in film criticism. The recent petition to shut down Rotten Tomatoes shows a misconception that critics are one collective groupthink and that there is little merit to their opinion. Critics were accused of being biased against DC because Suicide Squad was receiving negative reviews. While the majority of critics disliked Suicide Squad, some critics, such as Stephen Porzio of Film Ireland, enjoyed it. The anger against critics is unwarranted, as their purpose isn’t to sell or destroy a film but to present multiple angles from which it can be examined. Having youth read various reviews would illustrate the subjectivity of film criticism and inspire them to participate.

The subjectivity behind film criticism becomes clear when on enters a film without looking at reviews. Not knowing the general consensus allows the viewer to keep an open mind and not feel obligated to love or hate the film. While there is solace in having an opinion that aligns with the majority, holding a unique view has greater value. A review with a contrasting opinion allows the reader to see the film in a different light and, in some cases, acquire a newfound appreciation for what may have initially seemed dull.

Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel illustrate how each critic possesses a rare viewpoint, which is valuable for those seeking to find a fresh perspective on a film. While Siskel and Ebert shared similar opinions at times, they would often disagree. The debates Siskel and Ebert had demonstrate how while one critic could find a film entertaining, another could find it boring. Ebert enjoyed Back to the Future Part II for its crazy time paradoxes, but criticized Back to the Future Part III for being set in the Hollywood version of the Old West, as it resulted in a cliché western story. By contrast, Siskel preferred the third installment, as its slower pace left room for heartfelt moments that were lacking in the previous film. The opinions of distinguished critics such as Siskel and Ebert are invaluable resources for those seeking new perspectives.

Critics helped me make sense of Whiplash, which I initially saw as a mean-spirited film with an unlikeable protagonist. Andrew Neyman (Miles Teller) is under the instruction of rigorous jazz instructor Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons). In order to succeed, Neyman needs to show an intense level of commitment to drumming by giving up pleasures such as his girlfriend. While Fletcher was unlikeable due to his drill sergeant attitude, I was more frustrated with Neyman for tolerating Fletcher’s abuse. Despite learning that one of Fletcher’s students committed suicide due to his intense level of stress, Neyman continues to seek out his guidance. I found solace in Peter Rainer’s review for The Christian Science Monitor, which criticized the story for its implausibility, saying: “in any sane society [Fletcher] would have been brought up on charges long ago”. Nonetheless, I found A.A. Dowd’s review from the AV Club to be more resourceful, as it helped me understand why director Damien Chazelle made the characters the way they were. Dowd praised Whiplash for its intricate philosophy, as Fletcher’s method of teaching produced great results: “Chazelle recognizes that Fletcher’s approach is abusive and excessive, but he also flirts with concluding that the ends justify the means.” While Dowd’s review didn’t make Whiplash any more pleasant to watch, it gave me a greater appreciation for it.

Film criticism allows you to express a distinguished point of view that others may not posses. If every critic had the same opinion, there would be no point to film criticism. Thankfully, that’s not the case, because everyone is capable of bringing new insight. Having more youth involved in film criticism would be great, as it would bring in fresh opinions that older generations may not be able to provide. Having youths read many different reviews could make them realize that each critic provides a distinct opinion and spur them to become film critics.

Jacob Levy

Jacob Levy

Jacob Levy is a recent graduate of Muhlenberg College, where he double majored in Media & Communications and Film Studies. While Jacob loves watching numerous blockbusters such as Avengers: Infinity War, he is just as excited to watch foreign and independent films like The Square. Jacob enjoys writing for Gen Z Critics as it gives him a place to share his thoughts on overlooked films such as Krisha.

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