John Cleese Says It’s Strange Most Film Critics Can’t Act, Direct, Write


The Monty Python co-founder is on a social media mission to get movie critics to admit their limits.

What experience should film critics have in terms of writing, acting and/or directing? Does it make sense that people with no film experience are film critics? These questions have been on the mind of comedy legend and Monty Python co-founder John Cleese over the past week on social media, where he’s sparked a debate about what qualifications film critics need. Just this week, Cleese wrote: “It’s strange that, given [film critics’] disabilities [in acting, directing, or screenwriting], they are then put on trial of people who can write, lead and act.

The debate over the qualifications of film critics began when Cleese observed last week that sports coverage on television had “improved dramatically” by hiring former athletes as commentators. Because former athletes have personal experience of the sport they are commentating on, they are able to more accurately weigh in on games, training decisions, and more. Cleese asked his followers, “Could the same principle now be applied to the arts?

“Instead of having ‘critics’ who themselves cannot direct, write, perform, sing, dance or claim any other kind of expertise, wouldn’t we get superior feedback from people who can? asked Cleese. “Why should artistic criticism from untalented people be preferred to that of exceptionally talented people?”

Cleese noted that he was not angry with film critics but “just wants them to recognize their limitations”. The comedian added, “For example, critics are surprisingly ignorant of [the filmmaking] to treat.”

In an August 4 article, Cleese speculated that “if critics could write, direct, or act, they probably would and earn more than the pittance that critics get paid.” That critics don’t make movies or perform means that in most cases they aren’t qualified to do so, so why are they the ones judging the art? Followers chimed in for and against Cleese’s argument in the comments section.

Cleese is getting her own reviews for her live comedy show ‘Why There’s No Hope’, which aired this week. Check out all of the comedian’s thoughts on film critics in the articles below.

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