I’ve often complained about the state of film criticism in these bizarre modern times where fear is everywhere. Afraid to say what you REALLY think, fear being called an “ist” of sorts and having your entire career and reputation ruined as a result. Afraid of being labeled a ‘white man’ which is honestly just as bad. The idea that more women and people of color will mean that the reviews will have to be different, because once we remove the offending unclean things, we will have people who can REALLY see what is good and what is. which is bad. Even though there are nuances of truth to this overarching ideology – there is nothing wrong with diversifying viewpoints – the idea that criticism must be watched for conformity and conformity has largely ruined criticism. cinematographic.
But today, shockingly, the National Society of Film Critics (aka the NSFC) has taken a stand against Variety’s absurd decision to apologize for an observation made in a review of Promising Young Woman, which commented on. appearance of Carey Mulligan. She took offense and said it in a New York Times column. She had the right to express her objection, just as the reviewer had the right to make this observation.
Try saying that to the overly pampered Lord of the Flies on Twitter calling for the ousting of movie critics. Literally calling for his dismissal. They mistakenly assumed he was your typical straight white man complaining that she wasn’t pretty enough. In fact, as he says in this Interview with the tutor, he’s a 60-year-old gay man.
Here is their statement:
A STATEMENT BY THE NATIONAL SOCIETY OF FILM CRITICS CONCERNING VARIETY’S EXCUSES FOR ITS YOUNG PROMISING WOMAN REVIEW
February 9, 2021 – We, the members of the National Society of Film Critics, want to register our alarm at Variety’s lousy treatment of our colleague Dennis Harvey.
On January 26, 2020, Variety released from the movie Promising young woman of the Sundance Film Festival. (Full disclosure: The review was edited by Peter Debruge, Variety’s chief film critic and NSFC member.) While praising the film, Harvey wrote that Carey Mulligan, “a good actress, seems a somewhat odd choice ”as the protagonist in the film’s“ seemingly tiered femme fatale ”, noting the distanced aspects of the character’s costumes, hairstyle, and vocal delivery. He then praised Mulligan’s performance as “skillful, entertaining and empowering, even when the eccentric method obscures the precise message.”
On December 24, 2020, almost a year later and in the height of awards season, Mulligan raised his objections to Harvey’s review in a : “I felt like that was basically saying that I wasn’t sexy enough to pull off this kind of trick.
Mulligan, like any artist, is within his rights to respond to critiques of his work, just as we are within our right to assert that nothing in Harvey’s critique – which focuses on the stylized presentation of the actor, not on its appeal – only supports its claim. But differences of opinion in the evaluation of a film or a performance are not in question here. What concerns us is Variety’s subsequent decision to place an editor’s note at the top of the review: “Variety sincerely apologizes to Carey Mulligan and regrets the callous language and innuendo in our review. Promising young woman who downplayed his daring performance.
If Variety felt that Harvey’s language of criticism was callous and insinuating, there was an opportunity to work with him to correct this in the editing process before it was released. There are also ways Variety could have recognized and responded to Mulligan’s criticisms, rather than just capitulating and undermining their own criticism in the process.. The imposition of a subjective value judgment (“his daring performance”) as a flat editorial perspective, as if it were an indisputable fact rather than an opinion, is particularly inappropriate. We believe the editor’s note should be deleted.
Like all journalism, film criticism often displeases those who write about it. And, like any journalist, film critics should have the backing of their publications when this discontent, usually coming from people far more powerful than any journalist, is known, especially when this publication purports to report on the industry. in which these powerful people dwell. It’s appalling that, in this case, Variety chose to side with that power rather than support its writer.
I’m not even sure the value of film criticism if it’s just there to pamper and pamper those who are too fragile to handle, you know, concepts that might be somewhat difficult. This respect and conformity to a strict standard has no place in art, and certainly not in film criticism. To call this critic to be fired for having “offended” a person and therefore all of Twitter is more than ridiculous.
By the way, my first thought about Mulligan was that she was TOO PRETTY for the role. Her appearance shouldn’t matter, as the movie is about men taking advantage of women who are too drunk to walk, talk, or drive. In these situations, I can promise you that their appearance doesn’t matter.
Well done to the NSFC. Stop apologizing. Start talking. This is the only way out of this mess, because the alternative is intolerable.