Jeff Simon, the culture critic at the Buffalo News, the paper I grew up with, is as usual right on the money. He notes here in this piece that movie criticism has been ailing since Roger Ebert played Roman emperor in the 1980s.
Things have been wrong in the movie critics’ trade for a while, I think — ever since, in fact, Siskel and Ebert emerged from Chicago newsstand battles into a dreadful and debasing (and popular) Hekyll and Jekyll TV act that popularly defined the trade for decades. Promotion and ridiculous celebrity — in which TV’s movie critics joined the D-list of celebrity that they supposedly wrote about — ran riot.
Even so, the worst was yet to come. What is happening now in journalism in the age of the Internet conflagration is a kind of wholesale war against movie critics. They are succumbing to buyout and retirement and layoff right and left as journalistic organizations are deciding that critics, in general, are dispensable and movie critics most of all, with their ranks full of those, not-so-sweetly, called “quote whores” and “junket whores,” not to mention those capable of trying to impress girls by “denying it greatness.”