Did you see that Entertainment Weekly laid off Owen Gleiberman, the film critic who has been with the magazine since it began in 1990? He was part of a seven-person firing this week that further reduced the magazine's payroll, expertise and importance to serious readers. Lisa Schwartzbaum, perhaps smelling the napalm in the air, took a buyout in February. That means Chris Nashawaty will be the only staff movie critic.
Friday, April 4, 2014
This news comes on the heels of an announcement that EW will be accepting contributions for its "Community" section -- presumably including reviews -- that will be edited but not compensated. As Monty Python once noted, the writers' reward will be "permission to come to work, sir!"
I'm not saying that only veteran critics know what they're talking about, or that only writers who can demand a salary are reliable. (Though by and large, they tend to be better informed, as it's their business to be. There's a reason people pay them.)
But arts criticism is like financial advice: Everyone has an opinion about how you should handle your money, and the Internet is full of anonymous stock tips and folks telling you what to do with Treasury securities and long-term bonds. Some are experienced; some are not. Some have agendas they want you to follow; some do not. Some have a sense of history; some do not.
The secret with both fields (and many others) is to find someone whose take on the subject aligns with yours. That doesn't mean someone whose taste mirrors yours, though it could do so. In criticism, it means someone who thinks about movies in the same way and has the same criteria you do. Find two or three such people and stick with them.
Whether I agreed with Gleiberman or not on a particular film, I respected his knowledge and welcomed his observations. The industry will be a poorer place without him and the many folks like him who are being cut loose every month by media corporations.
Posted by Lawrence Toppman at 1:52 PM