The short answer here is, "of course," anyone can be a critic. We all are at various points for various reasons. If I had an editor for my site, they might tell me to change the tittle to, Should Anyone Be a Critic? but this is my site and my first blog, so of course everything will look better in hindsight.
Do I see myself as a critic? Again, with a simple answer, no. Mainly because I am not paid to be one but also because I always hated writing essays. Unless of course it was about something I am very passionate about. In this case it happens to be film-making, which I suppose carries the weight of film criticism.
So, back to that main question: Should anyone be a critic?
Here the short answer is, "no."
Without attempting to do a critical analysis of the Tim Burton Dumbo, I will attempt to explain myself. So, as they say, "come with me, and you'll see, a world of pure imagination..." and the hidden faces who scrutinize every tangible aspect of it.
Having studied at the University of Kansas for three years now (with this hopefully being my last semester in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic, for those historians who might dredge up my work 20-50 years from now) I think I can define two categories of critics: those who understand what they are critiquing because they have actually done something in that field of art, and those who merely write about something because they are paid to so.
The first category can include myself for example. I have worked on several student films, learning valuable skills in the process that I have used to help make documentaries that are bought out from under me by Fox News (The Cuddlist, just dig through the videos listed on this site) and a short advertisement for a rock climbing gym in Kansas City (Sequence Climbing...enjoy the free publicity) which helped me understand what a fair price for my services would look like. In short, I have the freedom of choice to call myself a critic of films because I have experience and continue to learn long outside the classroom.
Other people, such as the St. Louis Film Critics Association, who gave the aforementioned Dumbo the "Worst Film of the Year" award can, as I oh so succinctly put it on Twitter the other night, after being overjoyed by the film and then learning that the film seemed rather hated, "any critic who has yet to get off their a** and attempt to actually make a film can eat elephant s***."
Not my proudest achievement, but look where James Gunn is now.
After all my rambling, here is my point: I did not bother looking up anyone on the board of the SLFCA to see if they had attempted to make a film because I did not need to.
They are not critics.
They are spiteful little goblins who wish they could have made a name for themselves but failed and gave up pursuing their dreams because it was too hard.
Is this blog on a little site in the middle of nowhere on the internet attacking the SLFCA? Perhaps. But that is merely one recent example on the long list of "critics" who are nothing more than failed film students.
We need critics. Good critics. Ones who have experience making films and other works of art who not only judge others but themselves and continue to perfect their craft.
Do I wish to be identified as a film critic? No. I wish to be identified as a filmmaker! But I think being a critic would be fun.
Stuart "StuFluff" Jenkins