Thursday, May 27, 2004

Comparing Critics...

Are film critics tougher than music critics? Or are the films that get wide distribution much worse than the music that gets wide distribution?

On Metacritic you can see - on each main entry page down the right hand side - the current releases and their accumulative critic's ratings on a scale from 10 - 100.

For MUSIC : Out of 77 current release CDs reviewed there are:
67 positive (87%)
9 mixed (12%)
1 negative (1%)

For FILM : Out of 133 current release films reviewed there are:
63 positive (47%)
46 mixed (35%)
24 negative (18%)

Part of the discrepancy may be that Metacritic tries to be pretty thorough with movie releases - by including obscure art films that play in few markets - but they only skim the surface with music.
Still, mainstream releases in any art form tend to be critically received and Metacritic does have a good number of obscure releases.

I don't have a definitive conclusion. But here is a breakdown based on this non-scientific evidence.
1) 'Yes', music is in better shape than movies are today.
2) Music critics are less critical than movie critics because they learn to love what they are reviewing. I know from experience that music tends to be much more personal and an art form that is made to experience multiple times; while movies tend to be one time events. That said I've been apt to enjoy a film more on a second viewing; but the film was at least good to begin with. I'm not sure an initially bad movie will improve much on a second or third viewing.
3) Music critics are a bit more open minded to non-mainstream music than film critics are to non-mainstream movies. I notice, for instance that in the film review section there are mixed reviews for a lot of movies I find really good such as Love Me if You Dare, Dogville and Secret Things all of which I like.
4) The selection that Metacritic chooses from is skewed. They tend to have a whole lot more critic reviews of movies than they do for music. Therefore there are greater odds that more mixed or negative reviews will get included in the final tally.
5) George Bernard Shaw once said that, 'If more than ten percent of the population likes a painting it should be burned, for it must be bad.' If we take this theory to heart then maybe music is bad and movies are actually good. [??]
I think I'm leaning toward #4 in which case my whole theory is shot.