Wednesday, December 4, 2013

"The Nostalgia Critic" (Web Series)

Title: "The Nostalgia Critic" 
Starring: Doug Walker
Genre: Web series, non-fiction
Naja's decency rating: R (language and crude humor)
Year: (2007-the present)

Criticism is vital to the health of the art community. It's hard to criticize well. Everyone is naturally analytical, but although everyone knows if they do or don't feel comfortable about something, most of us can't articulate why, or do it in a way that's thoughtful.

Without criticism, how could we appreciate the arts? In some ways, criticism is a form of appreciation- a meditation which takes artistic efforts seriously.

We'd become disappointed with media much more often if we consistently chose uninteresting media to watch. We'd consume a lot less of it, and we'd cling that much more tightly to what we already know. If we refuse to analyze our own feelings about why we do or don't like something, we can't become aware of the struggles and ideas of other people. Without critical analysis of why we feel the way we do, our feelings can become confusing.

I used to love watching Siskel and Ebert, so when they split up and passed away, I was pretty devastated. They left a vacuum. After years of film criticism depletion, I realized how rare and valuable a really engaging critic is.

Then I found "The Nostalgia Critic," one of a couple different characters made by Doug Walker of Chicago, Illinois, who all analyzes media. The Nostalgia trashes old films from the 80's and 90's that many have never heard of. He does a few new films, but they aren't as standard as his formula for reviewing bad 1990's films. But even with contemporary films, The Nostalgia Critic does most of his best work criticizing obviously bad movies, like Sharknado, as opposed to praising films he does think are well-done (which he does as well).

The Nostalgic Critic is very low budget, and it's really funny if you enjoy sarcasm and a rather choleric, irreverent sense of humor. I have really come to enjoy the panic attacks that ensue in every episode when the critic is disappointed to the point of outrage. The Nostalgia Critic's humor is very similar in style to the Angry Video Game Nerd.

I don't always agree with the Nostalgia Critic's opinions, but he backs up most of his premises with convincing points and there's plenty of quick wit written into each episode. And the Nostalgia Critic does his research when he isn't just making fun. He keeps it smart, if not clean. He's not racist or sexist (as is apparent in his review of Doomsday Machine), and although the humor is predominantly angry, the Nostalgia Critic character, written by both Doug Walker and his brother, is capable of introspection, humility, and revising his opinions based on new information (but always without compromising on the points he feels are very important. See his review on Man of Steel).

The Nostalgia Critic started off giving reviews alone, but his later episodes have a lot of side characters, and some of them aren't too bad. A lot of these side characters are other reviewers from "The League of Critics." My favorite character so far is easily "Brental Floss" who participates in musical reviews and does a really, really great Russell Crowe impression. There is also "Santa Christ," which is a pretty funny concept: Jesus and Santa Clause merged into one ultimate mentor figure that's always doing Gandalf impersonations.

This Les Miserables review is a great example of my not agreeing with a lot of the opinions contained therein, and not finding all of the playacting very interesting, but still finding a whole lot of entertaining truths to keep me engaged. Check it out! "The Nostalgia Critic" is a real trip down memory lane for us twenty and thirty-year-olds.

Here are all of the Nostalgia Critc's webisodes from the official website: