I remember a Detroit News film critic named Susan Stark. No, no. I didn’t say it was a good memory. It’s really just a memory. A poor memory. And it’s not because Susan and I didn’t agree on much (please, she enjoyed Ghostbusters 2…so, really?), but it’s that she had an air of arrogance about her that bugged me from the time I was old enough to start reading her columns. Now, as a content writer, current provider of content services and former film/music critic, I find myself questioning just how much stock folks put in what we have to say, especially when it comes to social media.
Honestly, I shudder to think of the kind of media monster Susan Stark might have become if we’d have had Facebook or Twitter back then. She could be a little on the insulting side, only not in a remotely fun way. And as much as I wasn’t fond of her, the downside now is that there are so few film critics left in the newspapers. It used to be that I looked forward to opening up the movie section each Friday to read all the reviews. Good luck finding more than one or two nowadays, though. And the few big names who are left? They’re finding a way to be as contentious as ever on Facebook and Twitter.
Look what happened to Roger Ebert on Monday. He wrote a Facebook post chastising folks for coming down on an Olympic hopeful caught setting fires in Vancouver. Folks complained and his page was taken down, then restored on Tuesday. Ironically, no better reasons were offered to him for the removal than any of us would have received. Ebert followed it up with a tweet on Tuesday and made a less-than-well-thought-out comment regarding the death of Ryan Dunn from Jackass fame. People were less than thrilled.
This brings up an equally contentious question; if you’re a film critic and you have a Facebook fan page–and even public Twitter account based on your celebrity status–shouldn’t you use it for being a critic and keep your personal thoughts to a personal page? You have some say, then, as to who you are friends with and who will have access to the private content you publish. Not that anything on Facebook is private and if they think it is, they’ll most likely attempt to find a way to make it less private in an effort to sell it to someone.
See how easy that was to go off-topic? It didn’t make it any less true, but it probably wouldn’t be appreciated by some folks. In the case of Ebert, nothing specific other than speed has been attributed to the death of Dunn, only there was a picture on the man’s page that showed him drinking prior to the accident. This is what Ebert latched on to when he suggested that “Friends don’t let jackasses drink and drive.” Cautionary tweet? Sure. In good taste? Probably not. Even worse because it may not be true? Tragically so.
But, again, was it something that should have been tweeted out or left to a private twitter and/or Facebook account? What do you think?