Not all of us find our path to film this early in life (there are plenty of "late bloomers" in the world of film criticism who are masters at talking about the artform), but I'd say many individuals who are obssessed with cinema do find that they have this concrete affection for this medium of storytelling in the early years of being a teen. Point being, Jackson Murphy, a 17 year old film critic who goes by the name of Lights Camera Jackson, should not be derided for his age when it comes to his criticism of the cinematic arts. On the contrary, his age might provide a unique perspective on certain films, and over a larger career, one can even see how his writing grows or how his affinities for certain sectors of cinema might change.
Unfortunately, the promise of that concept isn't quite fulfilled by his writing. One need only look at his reductive reviews (his review for Inherent Vice dubs the Paul Thomas Anderson film to be "Incoherent Vice", a play on words that even I, the King Of Bad Puns, feel is too sloppy and obvious) and his recent activities on Twitter get your blood boiling on the dude. Now, full disclosure, my writing is not perfect, far from it. I'm sure he'll improve as time goes on, and his reviews from 2015 already have far more nuance than when he was 11 years old and on The Today Show proclaiming Inception to be "too confusing" (yes, that really happened). However, the writing of Jackson Murphy is still egregiously underwhelming, putting easy puns (he closes out his review of The Big Short by noting how he's "...not bullish on its prospects to be embraced by moviegoers and if I had stock in the film, I'd be selling") over insightful critical analysis. But, to be fair here, such pieces of writing on their own would likely just get a handwave from me. After all, I was no Dilys Powell when I was 17, and the kids just writing and enjoying cinema. What's the harm in that?
Perhaps I should go for a more refined statement to describe Jackson Murphy's actions in this predicament, but I think this simple phrase will sum it up nicely: what an enormous asshole.
Yes, I am aware that 17 year olds do stupid things all the time, I can say that with complete confidence due to experience. But age isn't a 100% excuse for stupidity, just look at the misogynistic ramblings of film critic Jeff Wells. This rings especially true due to the fact that this isn't the first snafu Jackson has had regarding saying terrible things on Twitter to celebrities. He also previously took a photo with Chiwetel Ejiofer, and then on the actors birthday posted the image with the caption "Don't be slave to your diet, have some cake!". His reaction to this Ejiofer caption was the same as his Schumer comments; at first trying to dodge having to apologize, and then tweeting out a half-hearted apologetic remark. Rinse, wash, repeat.
This may be what irritates me most about Jackson Murphy. Not his weak-ass reviews, not his young age, but his inability to learn from his mistakes. We all stumble in life, but the whole point of experiencing those blunders is to grow as a person. It's pretty apparent that Jackson Murphy is not doing any of those things regarding his social media activities. Film critics, no matter the age, should try to offer something of substance to the world of cinematic analysis, bringing new ideas to the table stemming from unique perspectives and ideologies. The only thing Murphy has brought out thus far in his contributions as a film critic is an overdose of misplaced bad puns and slut-shaming.
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