No, Roger Ebert will tell YOU what’s art!

Posted: April 22, 2010 in crotchety ranting, Jeff Holland, Threat Quality
Tags: , ,

Damn, Roger Ebert. I love the guy, I find his reviews to be across the board the most well-written and considerate in film criticism. And that he’s actually a more prolific writer than ever following the loss of his voice (and jaw) is really impressive.

And yet, every time he opens his mouth (so to speak) in any fashion regarding comic books or video games, I have to remember that he is an old, old man, and he will not consider things like “comics” or “video games” or “Things that were invented after the 1970s” as ever being art.

Now…I’ve sat through an awful lot of pointless, clunky, poorly told stories (and awkwardly animated cutscenes) when playing a video game. And I have read a metric fuck-ton of bad comics. So I understand there are some poor examples of the form in easy view.

But I have also watched VOLUMES of truly terrible movies. And yet?

Even though Michael Bay exists in this world, movies remain an artistic medium.

So, when I see this opening line (from his positive review of “The Losers,” out tomorrow)

“‘The Losers’ is a classical action movie based on a comic strip. It does just enough nodding toward the graphics of drawn superheroes, and then gets that out of the way and settles down into a clean, efficient and entertaining thriller.”

It actually makes me consider lightly slapping an old, infirm, jawless man I admire in the face. Because there’s no reason for the derisive, dismissive attitude. Calling it a comic “strip” when you know damn well there’s enough info in the press pack to explain otherwise (just as a short story isn’t a novel, a comic strip isn’t the same as a comic book); referencing “graphics of drawn superheroes” in a military thriller that has no superheroes, and then “gets that out of the way” so it can be a real movie…

We get it, Roger, not a big fan of the comics. Which has no bearing on your enjoyment of the movie.  It was worth the first forty words of the review to go out of your way to point that out?

Over to the right of his page, he decides to elaborate on his view that video games can’t be considered art. Which I’m sure is well-reasoned and explained but it boils down to this: “I Am Roger Ebert, and I Am Defining Art For You.”

So. Ebert. Perhaps a deal is in order: I will accept your right to give good reviews to clearly awful movies like the “Death at a Funeral” remake and “Avatar,” and YOU can stop making judgments about media you don’t really understand.

  1. Mike Wall says:

    What are these funny moving picture things? That fad will never catch on. It’s not art if I can’t spit on the performers when they muck up a line.

  2. Jeff Holland says:

    Which now makes me wonder if the same amount of people who ran away from the first filmed train also walked up to the screen showing the first filmed dance number to spit on the dancers.

    “I am COMPELLED, sir, to critique your moving-picture performance in the time-honored fashion of a good loogying!”

  3. dagocutey says:

    Oh please, this guy had needed a smack for a looooooooong time. Yes, he’s a good writer, but such a pedantic snooty head, too.

  4. V.I.P. Referee says:

    This bothers me, too. Especially since I genuinely admire Ebert and almost always find him fair in his assessments; but then, he’ll throw a curve-ball like this—dismissing entire forms of art or a whole film genre—and I end-up feeling betrayed. He has such influence over less cinema-soaked audiences and is widely trusted as a critic. That can be a very destructive thing.

    And it’s not like illustrative artists haven’t already been fighting an uphill battle in defense of their art for, like, forever. It’s dissapointing to hear someone who’s spent a lifetime submerged in observing film, be so exclusive in his definition of what art is. What a shabby ending to a very interesting story.

  5. SB7 says:

    He gave pretty the same dismissive treatment last week to Kick-Ass, turning his review into a giant ball of “but won’t somebody think of the children?!!”

    Now I didn’t particularly care for that book and I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I think it deserves a little more than “OMG what if children react to violent media by behaving violently themselves?” especially since that’s the that’s the very issue Kick-Ass raises.

  6. Carl says:

    I think Ebert’s, like, totally right. So suck it, Holland.

    (Well, not really, but dammit SOMEONE has to stand up the experts.)

  7. Jeff Holland says:

    @SB7: I actually didn’t mind his opinion on Kick-Ass, though I doubt I’ll agree with it.

    Ebert doesn’t handle “nihilistic violence as humor” well. He had similar negative reactions to “Fight Club” and “Team America,” and while it’s easy to look at those reviews and think, “Man, that guy just doesn’t GET it!” well, at least he’s consistent. Guy doesn’t like that style of black humor? I can accept that. If everyone thought an 11-year-old girl ninja-killing dudes and saying “Cunt” was funny, then how would we shock the normies?

    Also, his review seemed to mostly ignore that “Kick-Ass” even HAD source material, so Mark Millar remains radar-invisible to Ebert (I assume – I would go back to see what he thought of “Wanted,” except a) the movie bore virtually no resemblance to the awful book, and b) I don’t want to think about the “Loom of Fate” anymore).

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