Cinema Sins' Sins.

Yup, its about time for me to have another rant about film criticism. And yup, it another thing I've complained about before, but here we go.....

CinemaSins and their ilk are a terrible influence on film criticism, the discussion of film, and movie making. Their viewpoint and delivery encourage a thoughtless, cynical approach to watching and discussing movies that is at best sad and at worst antithetical to what movie making is all about.

While CinemaSins aren't the only ones guilty of this approach, they peddle a particularly egregious version of it, and so I'll use them as an example to talk about the problem in general.

In basic terms CinemaSins' goal is to "prove" a film's badness by pointing out all of its "sins". They do this by showing out-of-context snippets of the film and counting all of its problems, or as they term them "sins".

Right from the get-go, they are approaching the discussion with negativity, dismissing the film they are reviewing as "sinful" before they even begin their review. It is a format which has no room for subtlety or in depth analysis, and little room for constructive or informative criticism. Worse, it reduces the discussion of a complex, emotion-driven medium to a nuts and bolts formula: We can name X number of "sins" in this movie, therefore it must be bad. Finally, its choice of words "sins", "everything wrong with this movie" imply a definitive, simple, morally correct answer to the complex question of criticism and further imply that people who disagree with this answer are stupid or blind.

All of this can be seen just from the format and titles of the videos. Watching the videos casts them in an even harsher light. The so-called "sins" of the movie fall, 90% of the time, into one of three categories: 1) Plot Holes. Not as relevant as you might think. 2) Continuity errors: Yes, movies have them, yes, it's kind of inevitable given that movies are huge enterprises making up thousands of people all trying to make a cohesive piece of art, NO THEY HAVE NO BEARING ON WHETHER OR NOT THAT PIECE OF ART IS SUCCESSFUL. 3) Snide remarks: This guys hair is weird, this special effect reminds me of another special effect, that actor looks like a different actor. Which, obviously, is not even a little bit similar to criticism.

Mixed in with these things are real critiques of the movie, questions of character motivation, thematic content, etc. But crucially, all four of these categories of "sins" are given the same weight. This implies that all are equally valid criticisms of a movie. This is where these videos are actively dangerous to film criticism and harmful to the discussion of film in general: They lead people to believe that an cogent argument as to the depth of character development in a movie can be dismissed by pointing out a continuity error. Worse, they imply (through the relative number of continuity errors/plot holes vs real criticism) that this kind of nit-picking is a MORE valid approach to criticism than nuanced discussion.

Combine these points with the overall tone of the videos and you end up with a culture of criticism that values snarky dismissal and nit-picking over actual discussion, appreciation and nuance. A viewpoint which dismisses movies and, by association, anyone who defends those movies, as being "dumb" and "wrong" out of hand. Its an attitude which devalues movies, diminishes the achievements of those involved, and reduces criticism and discussion to dismissal and snark.