LOTD: August 15

  • Now, you can use your Google account for Blogger, and that system is now running with some nifty new features, in Beta, of course. Adam @ Lifehacker seems a bit pleased, stating that it will hopefully make the platform a bit more useful.
  • It’s all about the access. Over at the Google Base blog, we see a little glimpse into what goes on behind the scenes there, with Clint Guerrero talking about what he does there. It’s not everything, but it’s something.
  • Scoble is writing about some new features seen on WordPress.com
  • Steve Rubel is pondering a “different” way of doing interviews and whatnot, using lots of transparency.

Goldstein on critics

Patrick Goldstein has a great feature up at the LATimes about the disappearing influence of movie critics. Movies aren’t getting screened, people are tuning them out and some movie’s campaigns (he sites ads for Jackass 2) are openly flipping the bird at critics.

Let’s look at this from a different perspective than most of the stories similar (but not as philosophical in nature as) to Goldstein’s. They have, for the most part, focused on media consumption patterns and how they’ve changed in recent years. Add to the fact that less traditional media is being consumed the fact that more and more people are becoming opinion makers in their own right and you can see why the ivory-tower critic is not long for this world.

Instead, let’s just look at this from a timing point of view. Back in January a study was released showing that a movie’s campaign peaked in effectiveness three to four weeks out from the release date. That was the point at which people were making plans and deciding what movie to see, so the campaign dropped off in influence after that, basically just picking up the stragglers. Movie reviews come out the same day (maybe a couple days before) as the movie opens.

So by the time the reviews actually were hitting newsstands or airwaves, people had already committed to seeing a certain flick. They had made arrangements with baby-sitters, friends, restaurants and maybe even bought tickets online. These are solid plans. Is the opinion of a professional critic going to rock those plans? Not a chance. People have, by this time, been exposed to so many commercials, online buzz and other factors that they’ve already “heard” all they need to about a movie. Goldstein hits this point to some extent:

We need to get our critics up to ‘Net speed. If studio marketers can spend weeks bombarding moviegoers with 30-second spots to glamorize their product, why should our reviewer almost always hold fire until opening day, long after most of the audience has formed its opinion, not to mention after most bloggers have had their say?

We never let studios tell us when to run news stories or schedule feature pieces, so why defer to their preferences when it comes to running reviews? If the studios squawk, we can always review their marketing campaign, which would probably be a treat for readers and, in all too many instances, allow us to write about something far more interesting than the movie itself.

The other points, about taste-makers being plentiful for people to search for and find one that connects with them, are valid as well. But the idea that a critic who waits until opening day to offer his or her opinion can still influence or override plans that have already been made is becoming increasinlgy quaint.

Is there still a place for the critic? Of course. And I dispute the notion that ‘net is where people go because it’s more populist and not as elitist. Most of the movie sites I’ve come across have a distinct elitist tone, with their writers and producers preferring Godard to Chris Columbus, despite the fact that the latter’s movies are popular with mainstream audiences.

When you take out the factors of taste and substance and just think about it from a timing standpoint, it’s no wonder critic’s influence is waning. They’re showing up to the party just as everyone is leaving.

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