Kristen Lopez on Movie Theater Accessibility for Rogerebert.com
Posted on March 29, 2018 at 9:27 am
Bravo to Kristen Lopez for her outstanding piece on rogerebert.com about the accessibility — or inaccessibility — of movie theaters for people with disabilities.
A movie theater should be a peaceful, relaxing place, and I’m sure it is for most in light of reserved seating. Movie theaters have gussied the concept up as the perfect way for all audiences to get the best seat in the house. But movie fans with wheelchairs or other limited mobility don’t get the best seat—they get the only seat. Theaters are mandated to make approximately 10% of the theater seats accessible, so obtaining the two to four wheelchair spaces in my theater can be like a terrible game of musical chairs. The outdated, ableist thinking is wheelchair users bring their own seat, like a lawn chair you plant on a soccer field. It gives them access, but how is this effective with such a small field to play on? Wheelchair users are often stuck sitting in the front rows, on flat ground with no elevation to keep a clear view. The changeover to wider, recliner-style chairs has actually decreased the number of handicap seats, and many of these new chairs come with oversized footrests or outward facing tray tables that prevent wheelchair users from transferring into them to begin with. The same Cinemark I was in has one presumably handicap seat that requires a wheelchair user to climb over the armrest to transfer into. All so you can find a place to set down your popcorn.
This is especially meaningful because Roger Ebert himself used a wheelchair for the last years of his life, and well understood the barriers — physical, logistical, and ignorant — that keep people out of movies, the very art form he called “an empathy machine.”
Rotten Tomatoes: How Digital Media is Changing Movie Criticism
Posted on March 29, 2018 at 8:41 am
Rotten Tomatoes has a fascinating and very insightful essay about online movie critics. Citing the 1990 essay by Richard Corliss decrying the devolution of movie critics due to television, Rosemarie Alejandrino, the inaugural USC Annenberg-Rotten Tomatoes Digital Innovation and Entertainment Criticism fellow, describes the scope of online critics and their connection to their audiences.
Across multimedia platforms — particularly online video and podcasts — a new class of critics has arisen, made up of people who view the world of film and entertainment criticism through a digital lens. Some don’t consider themselves critics at all. This new breed of content creators isn’t looking to compete with traditional print critics; in fact, they exist side-by-side in the same cinesphere, often using written reviews as a jumping off point for their discussions.
Where these video and audio critics are taking us represents an exciting chapter in the evolving narrative of film criticism. The ability to pause and zoom allows a crafty YouTuber to dive into a scene’s shot construction in minute detail. Access to streaming services lets a critic watch a movie over and over as to not miss a detail while dissecting the plot for easter eggs and hidden gems. The rise in podcasts and longform audio platforms connects the critic to the listener in an intimate setting, as if you’re listening in on a conversation between friends who love (or hate) a film as much as you do.
The key culture-shifting component of new media film criticism is the critics’ relationship with their audience.
I am honored once again to participate in Rogerebert.com’s annual women writers week, and will post a link when my review of Andie MacDowell’s “Love After Love” is published. Be sure to read the opening comments from Chaz Ebert, explaining the origins of this tradition five years ago and how it seems especially apt and powerful now.
I have always firmly believed that being introduced to diverse critical voices and opinions in the arts affects how we see the world but also has a profound influence on how we begin to heal it. It is our responsibility as publishers and editors to lift up those voices that seek to nurture and educate and unite us. This week at RogerEbert.com, those voices will be the voices of women.
I never miss an episode of Slate’s Spoiler Specials, the discussions of movies for those who have already seen them, so there is no need to avoid spoilers of plot twists or surprise endings. There couldn’t be a better choice of movie for a spoiler-filled discussion than Annihilation or a better trio to discuss it than Dana Stevens, Inkoo Kang, and Marissa Martinelli. They may not answer every question, but they puzzle along with you in an exceptionally thoughtful and enlightening conversation.