Film Critics Aren’t Useless, You’re Just Using Them Wrong

So a big movie came out and it sucks. Heaps of people saw it and some even liked it. There is nothing wrong with any of that.

That film is Suicide Squad. It sucks, and I wish it didn’t.

Even though the film ranked poorly with most film critics, it still broke the spine of the global box office. And so begins another round of “Film critics are useless.”

(That is an actual quote from an actual user review on Fliks.)

If you’re in that camp, consider this thought: are you even using film critics correctly?

I ask because this angry fist-shaking always arises with blockbuster films where the critic score is much lower than the audience score (whether you’re getting those numbers from IMDbRotten TomatoesMetacritic, or out your own asshole). But while we saw that same tsunami of tshit with Batman V Superman, it stayed noticeably calm for other popular blockbusters like Captain America: Civil WarMad Max: Fury RoadDeadpoolStar Wars: The Force AwakensKingsman: The Secret ServiceGuardians of the GalaxyDawn of the Planet of the Apes, and all the Fast and Furious films (except for Tokyo Drift, which is a lumpy ballsack of bad).

If you ignore the ones “critics got right” and focus only on the popular negatives, of course you’re going to think “critics get it wrong” all the time. Pair that together with the films critics love that general audiences hate (here’s looking at you Tree of Life and Under the Skin), you end up brewing the idea that film critics will only give a good grade to things that are “deep and meaningful and boring” (another actual quote from this Suicide Squad review, BTW).

Thanks to Rotten Tomatoes, all the film critics that are labeled ‘film critics’ are lumped together in a single percentage. Because critics don’t exist when they “get it right,” their only function is to be the enemy when they “get it wrong.” By labeling this monstrous amalgam of critics as useless or idiots, it makes your enjoyment of a film feel justified. And this always happens when the numbers “aren’t right”.

If this is how you use film critics, then you’re using them wrong.

Film critics do not exist to validate your feelings about a film; they exist to validate their own. They do so through words, not long division. It’s what they say that matters, not star ratings.

Try to see film critics as nutritionists that know what the nutritional information on the back of food boxes means. They are the people who spend time and experience analysing and breaking down the thing you’re about to consume. You can use that information as a warning if you’re a health freak, a heads-up before you devour something, or clarification for why that thing is making you feel ill.

Just because something isn’t useless doesn’t mean you have to use it. That’s my philosophy whenever I see the dietary data on a packet of Choc Bar Mallow Puffs before I smash it into my face, and I suggest it be yours if you are dead-set on letting Suicide Squad into your eyes.

And if you get indigestion, you know where to find us.

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