Tuesday 18 September 2018

Article: The Perception of Class

 Did you hear what that film critic said about the other? Well, it all started with a cryptic tweet from one Mark Kermode stating:

"That moment when you fall out of love with a film mag about which you once cared passionately. Oh well …"

In the latest issue of Sight and Sound (Oct 2018), Danny Leigh’s article on film criticism and class seemingly alluded to the idea that fellow film writer Kermode's private school education holds a certain aspect of gatekeeping:

The whole thing felt a little odd to me. A misguided pot-shot to some, a benign reference to others. In all honesty, I joked with a film friend that both were joyfully sharing a brandy and a cigar as they did enough to raise Film Twitter's love for gossip and perhaps got another couple of Sight and Sound copies out the door. Although Kermode feelings to the comments and Leigh's self-removal from Twitter state otherwise. 

Strangely, this reminds me of when Gawker broke the news of Hulk Hogan’s sex tape and rampant racism in which the Hulkster mentioned not only his wishes of his daughter to not date certain types of Black men, but also liberal use of the N-word. I remember when this news broke, the social media audience was more bothered at Hogan's use of a racial slur as opposed to his far more disturbing view on interracial relationships. I'm also reminded of the 2014 Sony hack in which then Sony Entertainment Chief Amy Pascal joking remarked on Obama's film tastes being somewhat stereotypical. While the information leaked was founded on dubious grounds, it displayed the problematic relationship between ideas of race and film production. This was not conversed about in The Discourse, because this was criminal gossip which shouldn't be looked into in any way or form. Although now we don't mind discussing pee tapes

The mucky discussions that should really be discussed are dismissed for something more palatable. The same thing will happen here. The more important aspects of Leigh's commentary will be overshadowed via a smaller, less important area of discussion. There are no winners here. The comments made will now be viewed by some as a grudge on a film writer who is currently the most prominent national voice on cinema. While another film writer will disappear from social media at a time we actually need folk to discuss cinema in a boarder sense. Something Leigh was happy to do. A shame. In the brief conversations I've had in the past with both writers, the most important element that came across from both of them was their passion for cinema. 

A couple of sentences between two prominent white film writers is simply not as important as the talk of class. We’re still in a labouring world in which London based critics and film writers chirp over "essential" screenings that they can see due being able to afford an array of rep cinemas that they can just fall into. Working class actors are disappearing. Films which highlight the varied range of cultural landscapes flitter on by due to poor distribution and yet we see have more to say about twitter beef. This ain’t Sarris vs Kael. This isn’t even White vs Baumbach and yet we are invested. The issue that lingers is that there IS a class concern that remains in film criticism like a repugnant stench. However, the concern is being masked by folk grinning and nodding in acknowledgment to MUBI’s smug advertising campaign or doubling down on their recent tweets about the state of Cinema culture, so much of which safely ignore any real insights on socio-political areas. The online film community can often give off an ivory tower demeanour about itself. All it takes is a glance at the right message boards or tweet threads to see it. There is a problem with how class, as well as race and gender,  is viewed in criticism. It goes far beyond the two writers mentioned in this piece. The fact that we will again ignore it is pretty classless.