You Tubers Are Destroying Criticism

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When it is executed accurately, criticism is an art form. The objective of the critic is to take apart a piece of art, the better to understand all of its component parts, and how they all slot together. It is far more complex than simply giving an opinion- that’s not criticism.

Don’t tell any of this to You Tuber and so-called ‘movie critic’ Zach Pope, though. Pope,who possesses all the ebullience of a puppy who’s just experienced snow for the first time, is a young American man who casually throws around compliments like ‘awesome’, ‘amazing’ and ‘great performances’, without delving into what makes the performances great. There’s no room for complexity,layers or subtext; or indeed, putting them into any kind of deeper context- be that sociological, cultural or historical.

It just seems that he, and many like him (he is but one example) is/are destroying criticism. There’s no critical thinking skills here, no in-depth research or analysis into film, just a kid enthusing like a fanboy at a Star Trek convention to a befuddled William Shatner.

Enthusiasm is wonderful, as well as a passion for the subject. I could wax lyrical about Clout Theatre or John Waters’ muse Divine interminably. Unfortunately, the likes of Pope, who has thousands of viewers, are destroying serious criticism, because people watching these ten minute videos think such wide-eyed epithets constitute criticism. They don’t.

Pope isn’t the sharpest pencil in the box, bless him. He once said to a viewer on the comments section, ‘I hope you get too (sic) see the film’. Recently,he referred to The Sparks Brothers , Edgar Wright’s new pop documentary on legendary US band Sparks as ‘The Spark (sic) Brothers’ several times on his video- not only getting the title wrong, but completely missing the cineaste pun riffing on the Marx Brothers.

Photo by Ron Lach on

It is bare minimum to get the fucking title right! We all make mistakes, especially where algorithms and spell checkers are concerned. Pope is seemingly not just cinema-literate, he seems illiterate. He should know his Pasolini from his Dumbo.

Sometimes, it’s almost akin to Danny Dyer taking on Mark Kermode’s job for a fortnight. Imagine the famously antagonistic TV hardman, popcorn in paw, dissecting a Tarkovsky retrospective at the local arthouse cinema.

Speaking of Kermode, the good doctor K knows his stuff. Unlike Pope, he is analytical, knowledgeable and equally at home with low-key, low budget Indies as mainstream multiplex. And he can eloquently justify why something works, or doesn’t resonate with him. Now, that’s real criticism.

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