Thursday, May 29, 2014
Are critics and snobs the same thing?
When I often talk about cinema with others, the term "snob" comes up often. This often makes me question what that phrase means and in what context it is being used. Do people believe that all film critics are snobs? Do the two go hand-in-hand? Or is there a difference between the two?
"Snob" means "a person who believes himself or herself an expert or connoisseur in a given field and is condescending toward or disdainful of those who hold other opinions or have different tastes regarding this field."
So when this phrase is used for a film snob, it is essentially saying this person believes they are an expert on cinema but only sees their side of the craft. That anyone else who thinks differently is wrong and should be disregarded.
Does this apply to film criticism and immediately make all film critics snobs? No.
While there are many film critics out there who are so passionate about their opinions and feelings on a given film that they can't see anyone elses side of the argument, there are plenty more critics out there who are open and willing to see many different tales to one story.
Let's say that a critic saw "American Hustle" and did not care for it. What would make him a snob would be if he heard about others saying good things about the film, only to ignore them and not care about anything he heard. But others out there would take the time to listen to others thoughts and feelings on the film and help to put their own opinion in perspective.
Does this mean they should change their opinion to match the majority? Not at all. A critic can hear a good perspective that is contrary to their own without changing sides. I felt this way about "Man Of Steel" when hearing about the people who did enjoy the film. I can understand why people enjoy the film and the struggle that Superman must endure as the unstoppable force meets the immovable object. It is just that I disagree with those who enjoy it.
I think it all boils down to that: being able to understand, but still disagree. To be comfortable with your own opinion and to stand up for it, yet not being so blinded by that you can only see your side of the argument.
There are always going to be people who hate something that others like, and vice versa. What makes the job of a critic so much fun is being able to see both the love and the hate and understanding where both are coming from. Because in the end, neither side is the right side. Watching a movie is a subjective experience and you become a snob by treating it like a objective experience.
If all film critics were snobs, then there would be no disagreement on what are the best films ever made. There would be no negative opinions on "Citizen Kane" or "The Godfather." Yet, I've seen plenty of agruments against both films, with people saying that Orson Welles' fingerprints are all over the place on "Citizen Kane" and "The Godfather"'s pacing is all over the place, making Michael Corlone's transition feel clunky and awkward.
Do I agree with these assesments? I don't know, but I do understand where they are coming from and why they came to these conclusions.
So, in the end, there is a big difference between a snob and a critic. It just all depends on how you react to opinons that are different than your own. Do you pretend they don't exist and talk down to them? Or do you treat them with respect and try to see where they are coming from?