HOW TO BE A FILM CRITIC I: PROLOGUE
Congratulations. You’ve decided to join the ranks of thousands of brave souls who every year make the journey to the big city with dreams of becoming a film critic.
You are now a member of an elite club. An elite club that doesn’t want you as a member and wishes you would just go away but thanks to the miracle of the internet, the once rarefied air of the preview screening room is free to be breathed by anyone with a blog , a bus pass and a burning desire to spend precious hours of their lives writing bullshit.
Over this series I’ll be using a variety of metaphors and references to describe the world of film criticism but this is the one you should remember above all others.
There is a scene in World War Z featuring hordes of flesh eating zombies scrambling on top of each other trying to get over the wall into Jerusalem. From now on you should regard yourself as one of those zombies, the wall is the internet and Jerusalem the promised land of paid work.
Now some zombies can gain several advantages over the others and they are as follows:
1. If you went to Oxford, Havard or some other big time university which your wealthy parents put you through then you’re top of the pile. As in any walk of life the advantaged have the advantage and the rest have to defy the odds.
2. You or your parents are associated with somebody with power and influence. Your uncle might play golf with the owner of Variety or you were in the same Latin lectures as the editor of Film Four. They say it’s not what you know it’s who you know and that’s a flat fact when it comes to film criticism. If you knew how many paid writers there are out there whose knowledge of film is primarily based on the IMDB Top 100 it would make your hair curl.
3. The third, thankfully, does not depend on wealth, education or nepotism. It relies on your ability to be an immoral underhand bastard who would sell their soul and sell out their friends in order to get to the top. Blackmail, bribery and extortion are standard whilst lying, backstabbing and being a general all round rotter is just an average day at the table in Starbucks that doubles as your office.
4. You can suck a lot of cock, either physically or metaphorically. Cock sucking is pretty much the oldest currency known to man and much like a Visa card, it is recognised and accepted all over the world.
So there we have it. Personally if I were you I’d get on the Greyhound bus back to Knoxville, open up your own sporting goods store and marry the girl next door. It might not be the life you dreamt of but at least it’s honest and you can always console yourself with the knowledge that the life you dreamt of doesn’t really exist.
For those masochists amongst you who can’t resist the sweet taste of brains, join me next time as I discuss how you should prepare for your first day on the job. And I use the word job in the loosest possible way.
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