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Hashbrown "No Filter": Or, How We All Become Critics

I think we've all met a person at some point in our lives who describes themselves as having "no filter". To tell you the truth, the phrase has always made me roll my eyes. Almost everyone (those who have a medical condition preventing control over what is thought and said excluded) has a "filter". Actually, if you think about it, the way we decide what we say goes through a series of turns in our heads: "Is this socially acceptable?", "Will those I'm speaking to get confused or offended?", "Do I care about the opinions of these individuals?", "Is this a joke my dad would tell?", etc.

The maze is different for everyone, but it exists. I think the metaphor can also apply to how we consume, well, everything. We don't eat certain foods for certain reasons, don't go to certain places for other reasons, and, most prevalent in my mind, won't consume certain media because of the mazes we've created. Our sets of standards define our lives. For me, this idea has created a whole new realization.

I've never considered myself a film critic. While I write about movies a lot on this blog (and spent a lot of time getting my degree in film writing academically about movies), I have never set out to say a film is good or bad authoritatively. I do, however, consume criticism. I don't read everyone's reviews and, admittedly, I'm a bit selective. I distinctly remember flipping through the film review section of Entertainment Weekly when I was a middle schooler, carefully reading one critic over the other.

So, imagine my surprise this week when I disagreed not once, but TWICE with one of my favorite critics. Leonard Maltin, who many of us have heard of because of his movie guides and a stint on Entertainment Tonight, hosts a weekly podcast with his daughter called "Maltin on Movies" (which I recommend, by the way). While the podcast usually takes an interview format (he often hosts celebrities and film luminaries), this week focused on the current state of film consumption. While discussing the way the Internet has changed everything, he admitted to writing poor reviews of Wonder Woman and Dunkirk.

Um, no. Just no. I completely disagree with Maltin, in varying words, calling these very different films "boring". Apparently, a lot of his readers did, too, which is why he and his daughter found the subject of their latest episode.

What's interesting to me is that all of these people had a say and, therefore, an impact on the critic. In the film industry specifically, this has become an increasingly unavoidable issue. Articles about the impact of a Rotten Tomatoes score on the movie-going public keep popping up (here's a recent one from Wired). "Film Twitter" is a thing (I try desperately to be a part of it). But, it's not just movies that are impacted.

Yes, we have always been critics. We have always been able to voice our opinions about whatever, whenever (well, sort of. And not globally). But, yes, the Internet and social media have changed things. I've often heard people say that social media makes them realize that "not everyone should have a voice". I disagree with that statement, but I will argue that we probably shouldn't listen to everyone about everything.

Still, it's an incredible thing that someone who hasn't gone to culinary school can impactfully praise a restaurant, or someone who's tone deaf can have a great taste in music. It's also incredibly humbling that someone who has worked in film criticism can be so wrong by the public's standards (sorry, Mr. Maltin. I really do respect you, but go Wonder Woman). Maybe this makes it a lot harder for people to know who to trust, but I also think it creates an environment in which confidently finding your own voice is important. Yes, maybe listen to the critics sometimes, but also recognize that you are a critic, no fancy byline necessary. Just don't tweet too much. Everyone hates that.

If you like this, I would love it if you'd like my Facebook Page. I promise I follow my own advice.

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