By David Poland firstname.lastname@example.org
Why Criticism Is Dying – Episode 9478: NYFCC Devolves Into NBR
I’m working on the first 20 Weeks of Oscar piece for tomorrow. It’s about the changing tone of the season this year… and how ugly it’s getting to be as a cottage industry for one organization has turned into a main business plank for an increasing number of desperate businesses.
And then, this morning, New York Film Critics Circle beat me to the punch with a harsh illustration of just how bad things are, announcing that it was going where no legitimate critics group has gone before… into November.
I am surprised how upset I am about this. It immediately burrowed deep under my skin.
Well, the self-proclaimed “nations pre-eminent critic’s group” has abandoned its critical post and has reduced itself not to a call girl showing up in a Penthouse at The Plaza, but to a Javits Center street walker.
I guess it’s the same reason why I am so unhappy when major outlets mess up industry stories. I want someone out there holding up the standard. I honor the intentions of these groups, even if I sometimes question their specific choices. So my disappointment in the failures – not in typos or silly errors, but in clearly intended bad calls – is extreme. It really bothers me.
There is no honor in this move. There is no excuse for this move. There is only one possible reason for this move… and it has NOTHING to do with honoring movies. It’s to be FIRST!
This was somewhat confirmed by NYFCC member Lou Lumenick, who tweeted when I asked for a single good reason for this move other than being first, “Being first is a totally fine reason to do this!”
Meanwhile, my immediate call to the group’s publicist to go through proper channels to speak to group president John Anderson was met by stonewalling bullshit. “John is tied up on deadlines today. Let me see if he can call you tomorrow.” Way to take a position, John. You make an announcement like this and then won’t take a 10 minute phone call about it? This is the same guy who felt so strongly about the boundaries of critics and publicity that he swung on Jeff Dowd?
Don’t bother trying to call tomorrow. You made a very clear statement today… twice.
For me, this kind of fight goes back to the DVD ban of a few years back when the studios decided not to send DVDs. LAFCA, in particular, was enraged by this call. How could they possibly see all the movies? Well… how about not voting on year-end awards less than 2 weeks into December?
I still think this practice is horrible. However, I concede that these groups would have a hard time dealing with their events, which piggyback on other events with bigger talent travel budgets, if they didn’t plant their flags before the holiday break. It’s kind of a sucky excuse, but it is a functional excuse.
But to push your vote to before NBR… an utterly illegitimate awards organization? To push before the first week of December, in which two or three of the December movies have traditionally waited to be shown? To try to strip the Gotham Awards of their tenuous media slot by announcing on the same day as their show? To make the object of a once-legitimate critics group to be “kicking off the annual end-of-year discussion?”
Here’s some footage from NYFCC headquarters just before the decision was made…
Lou added another bit of fresh air, tweeting, “I’m sure the rest of the trade press will be unhappy too. They know where their bread is buttered.”
From a personal perspective, may I note… fuck off, Lou. You’re bread is buttered by Page Six. You’ve got no standing from which to stick your nose in the air about anyone else.
But from a professional perspective, might I note… it means NOTHING to the trade press. NYFCC doesn’t butter anyone’s bread. Moving your awards earlier will actually make you less relevant, all but forgotten by the time BFCA, HFPA, and LAFCA announce. NYFCC will no longer be part of the heat of the conversation. The organization will just be another NBR, with only the most desperate publicists who have nothing else to offer bring it up as an award of significance.
One more thing… for better or for worse, the “end of the year discussion” was kicked off 7 weeks ago. Looks like you’ll have to move the voting to August next year.
The New York Film Critics Circle is now an official victim of “first” desperation mentality. As bad as things are for criticism right now… in the perspective of a small circle that really cares… this is a real tragedy.
The only thing that would be more tragic is if any other group followed their lead.