Monday, April 25, 2005

My beef with movie and food critics

I haven’t set foot in a movie theatre for years. And I love movies. But I either watch them on my DVD reader or as PPV. I can’t stand the long lines at the ticket booth, the vibrating loudspeakers, the endless commercials, the sticky floors and the talking spectators. It’s as if the movie industry has decided that my age group is no longer relevant, so now movie theatres and moviemakers are only catering to the young, dumb, male demographic. If we are to believe today’s film repertoires, the only problems facing the world are: how to get laid, how to shoot up people and/or blow up stuff and how to get laid. The music videos show the same single-mindedness: tits and asses and blingblings.

And speaking of movies, I’m really fed up with white people critiquing non-white films, especially Oriental films. Now, being a reasonable person, I don’t think that one’s race should interfere with one’s judgement, but when it comes to film critiquing, it seems like a white critic only has two attitudes: paternalistic backhanded compliments («It’s not bad,… for a Chinese film») or paternalistic extravagant compliments («Superb scenery, an unforgettable story infused with deep poetry and profound wisdom»). As a Vietnamese individual, I can tell you that all Vietnamese films have shitty dialogues and barely acceptable actors. It’s nobody’s fault: the country has only been at peace for the past 30 years and actors have traditionally been considered by society as scum, the equivalent of gypsies and prostitutes. It will take some time for the industry to gain experience and enough prestige to build a local pool of writers, directors and actors worthy of international esteem. But because of the prevalent political correctness and the physical beauty of the land, Vietnamese films have been riding on a wave of sympathy at various film festivals to collect numerous prizes and awards. My theory is that these awards are given to foreign films because the white judges are dazzled by the exotic scenery and the strange clothes and interior decorations. In the case of Vietnamese films, the stories are practically non existent, the action usually switches between slow and very slow and the dialogues are artificial and woodenly read. BUT the landscapes are gorgeous.

The same incompetence is displayed by food critics, although the situation is not as bad as in the film critique field. I once read a critic (I think he was Indian, Ashok something) complain how bland a Vietnamese dish was, adding in the last paragraph: «At the end of our meal, the waiter asked us why we didn’t use the dip sauce provided». And God knows how many food critics have been comparing the Vietnamese «pho» noodle-soup to bouillabaisse, oblivious to, or more likely ignorant of the fact that, as a country, Vietnam predates France by thousands of years. Apparently, these people get a salary, on top of having a corporate credit card to pay for their meals. So I’m just gonna say it and deal with any flaming afterwards: Food critics, economists and meteorologists are the three professions where you can say just about any nonsense you want and still keep your job.

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