Long fierce piece in defense of Kael and in contempt of today's critics: all of them. Bracing stuff.
In today’s culture, journalism’s collusion with the entertainment industry has come to be expected. Post-Kael publications like Premiere Magazine, Movieline, and Entertainment Weekly have created a gushy, starstruck culture where hype and reviewing are inseparable. Today, mainstream entertainment journalism is so hand-in-glove with Hollywood in terms of what is and is not worth praise and attention—so tied up with promotional campaigns and fan-boy fervor—that journalists are bewildered and suspicious when they encounter someone who consistently deviates from that consensus. Audiences these days seem to want to be validated in their own opinions, and take personal offense to critics who do not oblige.
Considering that hype, from advertising pages to review pages, is perceived as the only way to respond to popular art, perhaps Kael’s most radical maxim comes from her 1970 piece “Notes on Heart and Mind,” when she averred: “Without a few independent critics, there’s nothing between the public and the advertisers.” That notion seems perverse today, when criticism occupies a different, more indulgent position in the culture.