Film Criticism Is Dead, Long Live Movie Memes
In the age of social media, film criticism is becoming less and less likely to engage audiences. That's where memes come in.
Obviously, we don't think film criticism is actually dead, it just makes for a snappy headline. But in recent years there has been an ongoing debate -- or at least an ongoing discrediting of the value of film criticism.
Take the recent Bohemian Rhapsody, a paint-by-numbers romp that sterilised the life of Freddie Mercury, rewriting his legacy to better suit his Queen bandmates -- the producers of the band's biopic.
Rhapsody scored a middling 62 percent on critic aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes, compared to a 93 percent audience score. More striking was the brilliantly bad Venom, slammed by critics with a 29 percent score, compared to a hefty 87 percent audience score.
This divide is so common when it comes to utterly inoffensive blockbusters, films that are made to make money and have almost no lasting cultural impact. And it's no surprise that the divide is most commonly found at the juncture of these soulless studio flicks, pushed out to earn a hot buck.
With sites allowing anyone to add their two cents and feedback on a film, and with social media giving users a platform to voice their thoughts and feelings, memes are the format really cutting through.
Yeah, incredibly stupid jokes, images and videos are the new way folks online are engaging with films.
It feels like more recently fans of films are engaging with them by taking the piss out of them, more than ever before.
The shift into memes as a way of engaging with movies has opened a lot of dramas up to one of the internet's most savvy demographics: teens.
Where criticism was limited to those few authorities, the rise of memes has seen younger generations embraced for their impeccably loose and often completely wild approaches to otherwise highbrow dramas.
Films like Paul Thomas Anderson's Phantom Thread opened up the opportunity for a "Phantom Thread out of context" Twitter account. "Out of Context" accounts are often reserved for sit-coms and reality TV.
The account posts subtitled scenes from the film with -- you guessed it -- no context.
But it's not just high-brow films getting the meme treatment. A Star Is Born was one of the most anticipated films of the year -- with a huge thanks to viral meme moments from the trailer.
The immense virality of A Star Is Born has led to spin-off memes, corners of the internet specifically designed to "take another look" at the film, and even iconic fashion choices.
As soon as films are released there's a flurry of activity, the internet hums with a swarming of content creation and what rises to the top is truly exceptional. But it also urges people to be part of the conversation.
Official accounts like the Suspiria Twitter repost their favourite memes, knowing that those creating them are bringing new audiences to the cinema.
So while debates rage on about the worth of film criticism, and audiences are engaging with the opinions of experts, the real place you should be looking is online. The quality of the memes? Almost always an indication of a good time.
And no, there weren't any good Bohemian Rhapsody memes, we checked.
Featured image: Twitter @SamKerner.