Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
First Reviews: 'Hail, Caesar!' Is the Coens at Their Best First Reviews: 'Hail, Caesar!' Is the Coens at Their Best A.O. Scott and Why It's a Critic's Duty to Be Wrong A.O. Scott and Why It's a Critic's Duty to Be Wrong Film Writers Narrowly Escape Tragedy in Sundance Accident Film Writers Narrowly Escape Tragedy in Sundance Accident Is There More to Louis C.K.'s 'Horace and Pete' Than Its Surprise Release? Is There More to Louis C.K.'s 'Horace and Pete' Than Its Surprise Release? Kristen Wiig's 'AbracaDeborah' Is the Non-Existent Sundance Movie Everyone's Talking About Kristen Wiig's 'AbracaDeborah' Is the Non-Existent Sundance Movie Everyone's Talking About 'Manchester by the Sea,' Indiewire's Sundance Critics Poll Winner, Is Part Tragedy, Part Farce 'Manchester by the Sea,' Indiewire's Sundance Critics Poll Winner, Is Part Tragedy, Part Farce New Classics: Greg Mottola's 'Adventureland' New Classics: Greg Mottola's 'Adventureland' Daily Reads: Why the Disney Vault Needs to Go Away, How the Republican Primaries Have Broken 'SNL,' and More Daily Reads: Why the Disney Vault Needs to Go Away, How the Republican Primaries Have Broken 'SNL,' and More Daily Reads: The 100 Jokes That Shaped Modern Comedy, When TV Drama Cover The Iowa Caucus, and More Daily Reads: The 100 Jokes That Shaped Modern Comedy, When TV Drama Cover The Iowa Caucus, and More New Classic: Asghar Farhadi's 'A Separation' New Classic: Asghar Farhadi's 'A Separation' The Totally Insane Ending to 'Little Boy' Has Critics Fuming The Totally Insane Ending to 'Little Boy' Has Critics Fuming Daily Reads: The 'Hollywood Blackout' Controversy at the 1996 Academy Awards, Everybody's a Critic and That's How it Should Be, and More Daily Reads: The 'Hollywood Blackout' Controversy at the 1996 Academy Awards, Everybody's a Critic and That's How it Should Be, and More Is 'Horace and Pete' Worth $5? And Who's Asking, Anyway? Is 'Horace and Pete' Worth $5? And Who's Asking, Anyway? One of the Best Movies of 2015 Is Now Available On Demand. (Also It's 16 Minutes Long.) One of the Best Movies of 2015 Is Now Available On Demand. (Also It's 16 Minutes Long.) Adam Sandler's 'The Ridiculous 6' Is Getting Some of the Year's Most Hilariously Scathing Reviews Adam Sandler's 'The Ridiculous 6' Is Getting Some of the Year's Most Hilariously Scathing Reviews Could 'The Hateful Eight' Kill Film Instead of Saving It? Could 'The Hateful Eight' Kill Film Instead of Saving It? 'The Gift': A Great Thriller (Almost) Ruined By a Terrible Ending 'The Gift': A Great Thriller (Almost) Ruined By a Terrible Ending 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens': Why Rey's Hypercompetence Is a Feature, Not a Bug 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens': Why Rey's Hypercompetence Is a Feature, Not a Bug Daily Reads: Separating Bill Cosby From Cliff Huxtable, How Gregory Peck Brought Diversity to the Academy, and More Daily Reads: Separating Bill Cosby From Cliff Huxtable, How Gregory Peck Brought Diversity to the Academy, and More Fear of a Black Dingus: Quentin Tarantino's 'The Hateful Eight' Fear of a Black Dingus: Quentin Tarantino's 'The Hateful Eight'

J. Hoberman on Criticism in Crisis

Criticwire By Matt Singer | Criticwire April 20, 2012 at 3:59PM

In an interview with Cinema Scope magazine, the former Village Voice critic talks about his layoff and the state of film journalism.
0

Cinema Scope's 50th issue includes an article entitled "Film Criticism After Film Criticism: The J. Hoberman Affair," an interview with the (Hober)man himself, conducted by Mark Peranson. The affair, of course, refers to Hoberman's termination by his longtime employer, The Village Voice, and what that termination suggests about the future of professional movie writing, in print or otherwise. If you're curious at all about the state of film criticism, you're going to want to read this interview. If you're not interested in the state of film criticism, why are you reading a blog about the state of film criticism? This blog will probably be more to your liking.

The whole interview is littered with gems -- Hoberman's pick for "the best Obama movie" is right on the money and his assessment of Armond White is hilariously withering -- but here's the distilled bottom line if you want to understand what went wrong at The Voice and continues to go wrong at alternative weekly newspapers around the country:

"Print journalism is in trouble, criticism is in crisis, Hollywood sucks, but the decline of the Voice has been going on longer than the death of cinephilia. When I first began publishing there, my friends already thought it was passé. That said, the paper really began its decline when it went free in 1996 and a new 'professional' editor was brought in to regulate the anarchic staff. A new venture-capitalist ownership made things worse, even as the highly profitable classified ads migrated online. The quality suffered and there were some atrocious firings, but things became immeasurably worse once New Times took over in 2006 -- that was like living under occupation, replete with periodic bloodbaths."

If we look past the pervasive sense that we're wasting our time in a dying industry, Hoberman's words suggest that there might be a little light at the end of this tunnel (tunnel, all-consuming black hole that will someday devour the entire critical universe, whatever). Print is dying, criticism is dying, movies are dying, but as Hoberman notes, the movies were considered "over" way back in the days of "Star Wars." Now we look at the late 1970s as another Golden Age; not quite as brilliant as the New Hollywood Era, but full of unusually creative blockbusters.  So it's a nice reminder that in the world of cinema the sky is always falling. The only thing that changes is the frame rate.

Read More of Mark Peranson's "Film Criticism After Film Criticism: The J. Hoberman Affair."

This article is related to: J. Hoberman


E-Mail Updates