On critics and publicity

Thursday 5th January 2012

Critics: essential equipment
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There has been a fair amount of discussion recently about the role of the professional critic in the digital age, when just about anyone can set up their own blog, or comment on a website. The rise of the so-called citizen critic, the preference of some newspapers for employing so-called celebrity reviewers and the use of the internet by single-issue fanatics (remember the fuss about Love Never Dies?) have led to some professional critics wondering if they might not be a dying breed. But as the onward march of such pseudo-mass-democracy continues, the use by some producers of the opinions of so-called ordinary people to advertise their shows is not confined to theatre publicists. Last night, I saw a television advert for Michel Hazanavicius’s new film, The Artist. It was the usual one which I’ve seen more than once on television and in cinemas, with one addition. Now that the film has been released, the advert includes short video clips of so-called ordinary cinema-goers saying things such as “Great film” and “I really enjoyed it”. So sophisticated. Only my irrational fear of being left without a television prevented me from throwing something big and hard at the screen.

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