Opinion: are Hollywood’s critics too elitist?


What do “The Oscars,” “The Emmys,” and “The Grammys” have in common? They are irrelevant and out of touch. 

“The Oscars” viewership has plummeted dramatically in the last few years, losing around half of its viewership between 2020 and 2021 according to a chart from CNBC. In fact, the top three major awards shows, “The Academy Awards,” “The Emmys,” and “The Grammys” have all been on the decline. The reason is simple: the awards have lost their luster. 

Critics have grown more distant from general audiences every year, and the separation seems to be continuing to grow. It seems that critics sometimes miss the point. 2019’s “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” has a 42% critic score on review aggregator site “Rotten Tomatoes,” but audiences disagreed, giving it a score of 83%. Reviewers complained that the human drama was lacking, missing the entire point of the movie which was simply to watch Godzilla wreak havoc. 

Godzilla is not alone, “Venom” was critically panned, scoring an extremely low 31% critical score while at the same time receiving an 81% from the general audience category.

The same is true in reverse, 2017’s “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” scored a 91% critical approval rating and was certified fresh by Rotten Tomatoes, however, audiences scored it a 42% overall. Many fans felt extremely let down by the movie and it sparked a lot of controversies but the ‘professional’ reviews are overwhelmingly positive. While there are a variety of factors in how critics rate movies, it seems that whether or not the movie is enjoyable to watch is not one of them.

The common explanation for this divide is that critics have trained eyes and are therefore more likely to see the movie from a technical standpoint. This argument makes sense, critics watch and review hundreds of movies and are therefore harder to please. This should not be the case though. Critical reviews can stifle a movie’s success and create a hostile environment for movies that are supposed to be fun and nothing else.

Not every movie needs to have groundbreaking cinematography or thirty layers of hidden meaning to be good. Deeper films like “Interstellar” and “Inception” can share the box office with the likes of “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “Avengers”. The only problem is that former is held as worthy of praise while the latter is described as dumb crowd pleasers. Movies are supposed to please the crowd and critical reviews should be able to reflect this.

It is more important than ever to support film and the art of filmmaking which has been struggling to recover from global lockdowns. Just remember that the ‘dumb’ movies that elitist critics sneer at are worth watching too.