MovieBob - Intermission
About Critics (Part II)

Bob Chipman | 10 Jun 2011 12:00
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Two weeks ago I decided to offer my answers to questions and criticism commonly asked of movie critics. Let's finish that up...

"Movie critics have a left-wing bias!"

This one ... is a little tricky. And it's also the one where I'll have to throw a big only speaking for myself disclaimer upfront, as I wouldn't want to presume to make declarations of any perspective but my own on such potentially sensitive ground.

Frankly, I think the accepted wisdom that entertainment journalists - journalists in general, really - have some kind of "liberal bias" to be based more on a misreading (and, honestly, more than a little intentional misrepresentation) of vocabulary than anything tangibly political.

See, we have this problem in America: We've only got two political parties, for the most part representing the two "sides" of liberal versus conservative. And everything is assumed to line up on one "side" or the other - even if something doesn't actually have anything to do with the size and/or reach of federal power, i.e. the only qualifiers for whether or not something is politically liberal or conservative.

To use just one example: The ongoing evolution debate (and yes, for those of you outside the U.S., we really somehow are sadly still having a debate about that) is typically framed in political terms: Creationism generally framed as being on the "right" and Evolution being nominally of the "left." Now, obviously, there's nothing innately related to the size and/or reach of government in this discussion - but since Creationism is grounded in religious-traditionalism and in the U.S. religious-traditionalism tends to make its home on the "right," it gets framed as a Liberal vs. Conservative discussion rather than the clash of Scientific Fact vs. Something Else.

Speaking only for myself, I don't consider myself to have a particularly "liberal" or "leftist" viewpoint to my film criticism. I'm sure one can track back and find examples of me coming down on the side of so-called "Big Government," but the same excavation would turn up just as many (if not more) examples of me sounding like the groundskeeper of Galt's Gulch. The explanation for this is simple: I don't have an "ideology" - I have an unabashedly self-serving series of personal/political goals and wants, and I'm supportive of whatever policies or policymakers get me there in the most efficient way. My "side" is my own.

Thusly, while I won't cop to any kind of bias against one "side" or the other, I'll freely admit to being quite proudly biased against stupidity, injustice and lies - if and when I come up against a "creationist" film (stupidity) I'm probably going to be inclined to kick the crap out of it. When I've encountered openly homophobic/anti-gay films (re: injustice), I've typically taken them to task for it. Those pseudo-science "Global Warming doesn't exist" documentaries? They are lies, and I treat them as lies deserve.

In none of these cases have I or would I have acted out of bias against "conservatives" - my bias is against ignorance. That ignorance these days occasionally seems to build its nests more prominently on one "side" than the other is unfortunate, but no concern of mine ;)

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