Has it been a long time since you’ve been angry with a critic? – letter

Has it been a long time since you’ve been angry with a critic?  – letter

Has it been a long time since you’ve been angry with a critic?

Do you think he hasn’t caught on to the latest superhero movies? That she allowed herself to be easily influenced by a famous author?

No wonder. The number of reviews in the media has decreased significantly. These are the findings of a report commissioned by the Norwegian Critics Association. It shows that the number of reviews in Norwegian newspapers fell by more than half in the 15 years from 2007 to 2022. In both VG and Dagblade, reviews for art and culture were reduced by more than 80 percent. Reviews in Aftenposten were reduced by 67.4 percent.

Celebrity Critics: In the past, some critics were famous and were the subject of countless parodies, such as NRK’s ​​old film critic Pål Bang-Hansen.

Image: NTP

Anyone who works in cultural journalism knows that it’s hard to convince your audience to click on reviews. When a reviewer works hours on a review in a national outlet, and the text reaches only a few thousand readers, it is perhaps not surprising that editors believe the time and money could have been better spent.

But people are not necessarily uninterested in reading analyzes and evaluations of films, music, literature and theatre.

In NRK’s ​​Norstat poll, for example, it was found that audiences in this country are very happy to consult the rating service Rotten Tomatoes, which aggregates ratings from a large number of reviewers, before pressing play on a film. . 45% of those surveyed said they use international rating services, but the number is higher in the 18-39 age group. There, 77% say they use such sites.

Popular: Many moviegoers, including many Norwegians, check a film's score on Rotten Tomatoes before purchasing a movie ticket, or pressing play on a streaming service.

Popular: Many moviegoers, including many Norwegians, check a film’s score on Rotten Tomatoes before purchasing a movie ticket, or pressing play on a streaming service.

Photo: Alamy Stock Photo

At first glance, it doesn’t seem like it’s hanging. Why are the importance of reviews downplayed in the Norwegian media, when the demand for analyzes and ratings clearly exists?

There may be several explanations. Some of those who visit sites like Rotten Tomatoes find it easier to deal with a number, or a thumbs up or down, than to think long and hard.

But it also has to do with the fact that reviews have weathered the shift from print to digital media very poorly.

Film sections and book appendices were designed in the old days so that you, the reader, would get an overview. I turned over some newspaper pages that contained texts that clearly indicated that they were assessments of what was happening in cultural life. You read a little bit of one, a little bit of the other, and turn the page feeling like you know more about what’s going on.

Update: The paper newspaper was more suitable for film, literature and music reviews than the electronic newspaper.  There, reviews compete for the seat of news stories.

Update: The paper newspaper was more suitable for film, literature and music reviews than the electronic newspaper. There, reviews compete for the seat of news stories.

Image: Shutterstock

Suddenly you realize that something exists, a book, a movie, or someone’s vision and project, that you knew nothing about until then. Maybe you want to go to the cinema or theatre. Maybe not.

The same mechanisms do not operate to the same extent when the article has to be actively selected. It must be chosen at the expense of other texts.

Articles published in online newspapers compete with each other, competing on the basis of sensational and shocking news stories. Then you lose reviews.

The development is easy to understand and explain. This doesn’t make it any less worrying. One of the most important functions of criticism is to invite a higher public conversation about the kind of stories we tell each other. About what kind of culture is created.

Seeking guidance: Many people want to know if critics have recommended a movie before buying a movie ticket or pressing play on the TV.  Photo from Gimli Cinema in Oslo.

Seeking guidance: Many people want to know if critics have recommended a movie before buying a movie ticket or pressing play on the TV. Photo from Gimli Cinema in Oslo.

Image: NTP

Behind it is the idea that culture is more important than just the experiences of a couple, a group of friends, or a family with children, even if that is important in itself. Thoughtful reviews start discussions and conversations about the way we live now, what we think about our surroundings, and how that is expressed in art. There will be fewer such conversations as critics become increasingly unemployed.

But also from a consumer perspective, development is boring. Because how do you know what’s new on the cultural front? Without reviews, the book or movie that features the biggest names, or gets the most money in the marketing budget, wins.

They also win on rating sites that collect ratings from reviewers and the public. Because it is not quite as democratic as it may seem at first glance.

Manipulable: Many of those who post book and movie reviews on major rating sites are serious, observant, and analytical.  But the system is vulnerable to those who want to manipulate the numbers.

Manipulable: Many of those who post book and movie reviews on major rating sites are serious, observant, and analytical. But the system is vulnerable to those who want to manipulate the numbers.

Image: Shutterstock

Culture magazine Vulture revealed how the film’s PR team worked behind the scenes to artificially raise the film’s Rotten Tomatoes score to an artificially high level. They can pay reviewers outside major newsrooms to watch the film. If they don’t like what they see, we encourage them to keep critical reviews away from sites that count toward their Rotten Tomatoes score.

As for user-driven classification sites such as IMDb For the movie and Goodreads For literature, the individual user does not have an overview of whether the reviewers have already seen the movie or read the book.

Recently, fantasy author Kate Coren admitted that she created fake profiles on Goodreads to provide negative reviews of books written by competing authors.

Frequently used: Many readers write and read reviews on the book app Goodreads.  But a fictional author was recently exposed after creating fake profiles to drag down her competitors' ratings.

Frequently used: Many readers write and read reviews on the book app Goodreads. But a fictional author was recently exposed after creating fake profiles to drag down her competitors’ ratings.

Photo: Alamy Stock Photo

Stories like this show why hobby reviews have so far been unable to offer a good alternative to traditional criticism. It’s a shame, because in many ways, the users committed to these pages are a valuable addition to traditional criticism.

Many people who comment on a job are committed, serious, and analytical. In a small country like Norway, the absence of reviews may also mean that the artwork does not reach these commentating readers or film fans, because they simply do not know it exists.

Last year, author Agnar Lerhuis sparked controversy when he claimed that almost all press coverage focuses on a group of authors on whom publishers themselves are betting. He also saw the media turning into an advertising body for publishers rather than exercising independent judgement. When space is limited, there is room only for those the reader already connects with something. Vision creates vision.

Discussion starter: Author Agnar Lerhus claimed that the Norwegian media were doing the work of publishers, by directing all the focus to the big titles that came out.

Discussion starter: Author Agnar Lerhus claimed that the Norwegian media were doing the work of publishers, by directing all the focus to the big titles that came out.

Photo: Finn Stahl Felberg

Of course, it’s not just asking editors to prioritize creating material they know will be poorly read. But it’s time to encourage them to think again.

Find some ways and paths that can enable criticism to emerge on its own terms. Make criticism easily accessible, so readers can find it again when they close the book or come home from the movies curious about what others think.

It is not the media’s job to do the business of those in power, quite the opposite. But it is still important to note that Norwegian cultural policy is full of support schemes that ensure the production of narrower films, novels and shows as well. And the fact that a lot of this money flows into the sand when the press that has shown the public for many decades the way through this jungle becomes a shadow of itself.

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Ashura Okorie

Ashura Okorie

"Infuriatingly humble web fan. Writer. Alcohol geek. Passionate explorer. Evil problem solver. Incurable zombie expert."

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