Blogs, Reviews, and Buzz

The Alliance of Women Film Journalists has another interesting discussion this week. This time, they’re addressing whether “buzz” belongs in film reviews. In particular, they’re looking at the recent examples of gossip about Lindsay Lohan’s partying in reviews of Georgia Rule and details of Adrienne Shelley’s untimely death in reviews of Waitress. Interesting question, because in some cases, repeating such buzz may put the reviewer in the position of promoting the film by repeating what amounts to studio publicity (I’m thinking here of something like the Brad-Angelina gossip that was used to promote Mr. and Mrs. Smith and the Jennifer-Vince rumors that were used to promote the stunningly mediocre Break Up).

But because I see the publicity as part of the film’s overall meaning, I have to admit that I think it’s inappropriate to completely ignore this kind of buzz. It would be impossible to view Georgia Rule completely in a vacuum, and Lohan’s partying ways will inevitably inform how we view her character. But there’s a second issue for me when it comes to Lohan, and it’s the gender double-standard when it comes to partying. In her response to this question, Eleanor Ringel mentions the ways in which Lohan’s partying seems to be treated much differently in the press than, say, Johnny Depp’s behavior when he was a young star trashing hotel rooms.

The Shelley case seems a bit more complicated. In a sense, knowledge about her death shouldn’t matter, but I can’t imagine watching or writing about the film without thinking about it (Waitress doesn’t come to Fayetteville until May 25th). Again, the discussions taking place at the AWFJ blog are worth checking out, especially given the ongoing conversations about the new directions that film reviews and criticism are taking.

Note: I had trouble posting this entry earlier today, so reposting to see if things are working properly. In other news, I’ve accepted an invitation to post occasionally at the very cool Newcritics blog. More on that in the next few days.

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