Artists Vs. Critics: How Important Is Art Criticism & Audience Reviews to The Industry?

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The saga of ‘Awlad Hareem Kareem’ carries on. Yesterday, October 1st, Mostafa Amar gave an interview to ‘Al Qahira W Al Nas.’ Amar expressed his pride, calling the sequel to his movie ‘Hareem Kareem’ so good that it is better than the first part.

Meanwhile, his dispute with film critic Tarek El Shenawy continues, as El Shenawy sues Amar for defamation. After receiving negative reviews from El Shenawy, Amar took to Facebook to respond to El Shenawy’s critique in a rather not-so-flattering manner. He claims El Shenawy’s critique comes from a personal vendetta and not a professional one.

This begs the question: Are film critics just looking for fame and attention?

This dispute is not an uncommon event. Just over September, Egyptians found themselves plastered with one controversy after another, leaving us to wonder why ‘art criticism’ is a sensitive topic in the industry.

From Dalia Shawky to Farrag: Victims or Perpetrators?

Dalia Shawky’s mother on Instagram

Rising star Dalia Shawky starred in the hit series ‘Safah El Giza.’ The series and the cast have generally received good reviews except for one cursed scene. It was cursed in the show because Dalia’s character ‘Salma’ finds out about her husband’s relationship with her sister, while cursed in real life because the meme-worthy scene turned into a full-blown controversy. Some viewers saw that Dalia’s performance in the scene was a bit over the top. Then, this prompted a somewhat controversial reaction from the young actress’s family.

“This feels a bit like a targeted campaign against her,” stated Dalia’s brother-in-law and fellow actor Mohamed Farrag. He agreed with Bassant Shawky’s statement when she felt the comments about her sister were targeted. Dalia’s mother, however, took it a step further when she insinuated that critics of her daughter are somewhat non-believers.

Farrag has made those statements defending Dalia during the premiere of his latest film ‘Voy Voy Voy.’ No one can deny Farrag’s talent. Farrag’s audience has stood behind him as he cemented his status in the entertainment industry. Nonetheless, Farrag and ‘Voy Voy Voy’ director Omar Hilal faced backlash at the press conference for their film. Some viewers and journalists considered their interaction with an interviewer condescending and somewhat disrespectful. Farrag and director Omar Hilal released separate apology statements, considering the whole situation a misunderstanding.

Why is ‘Art Criticism’ a sensitive topic in the industry?

A confusing mess, right? Given the apologies, no one seems to disagree with the viewers’ right to state their opinion regarding a movie they watched. And there is no shame in making a movie for commercial success even though it might not receive the best reviews from the critics community.

It seems funny that the part we disagree on is a critic’s right to do their job. For example, Tarek El Shenawy is a professor teaching film critique at the university. But all the degrees and experience didn’t seem to matter to Mostafa Amar.

Filmmakers need to understand that the goal here is improving our industry. Art criticism is integral to the filmmaking process. The creative industry should strive to create a safe culture where we don’t take matters personally. Instead, we advocate for everyone – from film buffs, YouTubers, amateurs, and audiences to professional film critics and journalists, to express their opinions. The same as we advocate for an artist to have the freedom to express themselves.

The key here is to stay respectful. To stay focused on the main goal, art itself.

Do you feel that fame generally isolates artists from their audience? It leaves them surprised at how now, with just one click away, a sea of opinions about their projects gets on social media.

Do you feel actors are getting bullied, or are they getting entitled to good reviews?

Let us know what you think!

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