Roger Ebert slams Ben Lyons without even mentioning his name. Oh yes he did.
Roger's little rule book for critics is a lesson in how to avoid becoming Ben Lyons. Readers of this blog will likely recognize some of the references Ebert makes.
He starts with:
We can't be too careful. Employers are eager to replace us with Celeb Info-Nuggets that will pimp to the mouth-breathers, who underline the words with their index fingers whilst they watch television. As the senior newspaper guy still hanging onto a job, I think this task falls upon me.
Keep track of your praise. If you call a movie "one of the greatest movies ever made," you are honor-bound to include it in your annual Top Ten list. Likewise, for example, if we describe a film as "the most unique movie-going experience of a generation," and "one of the best films of 2007, and of the last 25 years," it's our duty to put it in the Top Ten of 2007.
But here is where it gets really good. Recognize any of this behavior?
Accept no favors. For example, if some "friends" throw you a birthday party at a classy Vegas joint they hope to fill with movie stars who are your "friends," say thanks, but no thanks. That crosses the line, even if the "Britney Spears of Korea" truly is your close personal friend. Your only real friends come to the party you throw for yourself in the activities room of your condo building, and they bring their own booze. [Note; If the Britney Spears of Korea is the real thing, Britney Spears should be known in Korea as the BoA Kwan of America.]
. . .
No commercial endorsements. This used to be a given in journalism ethics. A critic must be especially vigilant. If you express approval of a product, you must sincerely believe what you are saying. How will we know you're sincere?
. . .
No posing for photos! Never ask a movie star to pose with you for a picture. No movie star ever wants to do this. They may smile, but they're gritting their teeth. "It is the Chinese Water Torture," Clint Eastwood told me.
. . .
Sit down, shut up, and pay attention. No cellphone use. No texting during the movie. No talking out loud. No sucking up the last Coke out of the Kidney-Buster.
You rule, Roger Ebert.