Publication details

Czech film critics on the Czecho-Slovak Film Database : Symbiosis of high-brow and low-brow film criticism



Year of publication 2018
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Description Recent debates on the crisis of film criticism invite us to view the democratization of media and the concurrent greater visibility of amateur criticism as one of the biggest challenges to established critical practice. While the influence of IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes, social media and other supposedly democratizing websites with an international reach has been well documented by existing scholarship, a lot of research still needs to be done on similar platforms that operate within local, regionally specific media cultures. Czecho-Slovak Film Database (ČSFD), online community site with tens of thousands of users mostly from Czech Republic and Slovakia, is such a platform. Allowing users to publicly rate, discuss and comment on films, ČSFD has been considered a populist threat to professional Czech film criticism. However, despite being regarded as a community site for film fans and amateur enthusiasts, a closer look at the ČSFD user base reveals its surprisingly heterogenous composition, including a number of prominent film critics. Drawing on Andrew McWhirter’s concept of schools of film criticism and Pierre Bourdieu’s concept of capital, this paper suggests a mutually beneficial relationship between opposing discourses of film criticism, the high-brow discourse of academic/sophisticated school and the low-brow discourse of school of fandom. In the case of ČSFD, this symbiotic relationship operates on several layers, including a hierarchical system of user ranking based on the popularity among other users. On the one hand, this system acts as a source of cultural capital for the high-ranking film critics. On the other hand, visible presence of notable film critics on the user hierarchy makes the database seem more trustworthy and credible. In this respect, ČSFD serves as an example of rarely discussed positive effects of democratization of film criticism, functioning as a place for diverse, if sometimes contradicting types of critical practice.
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