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At the end of a long essay about the value of critical judgment in an era where poorly-reviewed films can still perform well at the box office, Times critic Tony Scott offers an explanation for the persistence of those in his profession despite the daily adversity they face:

So why review them? Why not let the market do its work, let the audience have its fun and occupy ourselves with the arcana — the art — we critics ostensibly prefer? The obvious answer is that art, or at least the kind of pleasure, wonder and surprise we associate with art, often pops out of commerce, and we want to be around to celebrate when it does and to complain when it doesn't. But the deeper answer is that our love of movies is sometimes expressed as a mistrust of the people who make and sell them, and even of the people who see them. We take entertainment very seriously, which is to say that we don't go to the movies for fun. Or for money. We do it for you.

And, you know what? He's right! Tony Scott is a brilliant man. He didn't need to take a job sitting in a darkened room watching flickering images and then writing about them for the local rag at no doubt paltry wages. You think Tony Scott wants to spend his Mays on some tatty little beach in the south of France? Of course not! Tony could be doing something high profile instead, like teaching at-risk high school kids or fighting fires. But Tony Scott can't. And why not? Because you need to know if Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties packs the same amount of yuks as the first one did. Tony Scott does it for you, and I think sometimes we forget that. Let's all take a moment to give a silent prayer of thanks for Tony Scott. Also Roger Ebert's thumbs and that guy on NY1 who gave Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift three apples. You know, the heroes.

Avast, Me Critics! Ye Kill the Fun: Critics and the Masses Disagree About Film Choices [NYT]