Critics: Once almighty arbiters of American taste

Husain Naqvi wrote of the waning influence of cultural critics yesterday in his Critical Digressions column here at 3QD. This is by Scott Timberg in the Los Angeles Times:

In the 1950 movie “All About Eve,” the theater critic is a dapper, cynical charmer with the Old World moniker Addison DeWitt. He’s no hero, but his wry assessments can make or break a production. Characters repeat his phrases throughout the film, in both scornful and reverent tones.

Almost a half-century later, the television show “The Critic” presented an animated schlemiel, paunchy and balding, voiced by the nerdy comic endomorph Jon Lovitz. This character’s influence on the world in which he lives is nonexistent: His impact comes down to serving as the butt of jokes.

Does the 1994-95 series tell us something about the way Americans view those who make cultural judgments for a living? In the decade since that show’s run, many critics report, they’ve gotten even less respect. Or ceased to matter entirely.

More here.