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Do critics' awards still make sense?

Social media have opened up a process of democratization of critical judgment: can people still be synonymous with low quality or is it just the response of environments in danger of extinction?


The Internet appears a democratic place, at least for the most idealistic and romantic part of us. Access to culture, freedom of speech, right to criticism: it doesn’t matter if it leads to wild hating. You do not want to be influenced by third parties; you can all become coaches, film critics, literary, culinary, musical: the "power of social" is right here, in making it easier and faster to meet your personal taste with that of other people, thus shaping a mass judgment. Juries and experts, perceived as something elitist, are no longer needed: are we facing the death of critics' awards?

Think of the Turin Book Fair. The 5 finalists of the European Strega Prize presented their books, in view of the award ceremony on May 12, which took place at the Circle of Readers: not very large spaces, queues to enter moderate, an award ceremony in one of the most beautiful and exclusive living rooms of the Piedmontese capital. In the same days, the first Italian edition of the TikTok Book Awards was held, decreed in small part by a jury of writers, for the most part expression of the community of readers of TikTok. A universal suffrage, within tap, which occupied the largest hall of Lingotto Fiere, however insufficient to contain the hundreds of people left outside.

While it is necessary to recognize the ability of the organizers of the exhibition to intercept change, on the other hand critics' awards and industry magazines may have to deinstitutionalize and open up more to the public not to compete, but at least live with more popular forms of culture promotion?

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Un post condiviso da TikTok Italia (@tiktok_it)

Looking at cinema, there has recently been another contrast between criticism and popular sentiment. 69th edition of David di Donatello; C'è ancora domani by Paola Cortellesi meets Io capitano by Matteo Garrone: 19 nominations out of 20 for the first (absolute record); 15 for the second, already finalist as best foreign film at the night of the Oscars. A struggle between giants, worthy of having brought on the big screen migration and fight against patriarchy, which saw the Roman director triumph as best film and director (the director later won 6 awards). Yet at the box office, direct and tangible expression of the will of the spectators, the judgment was another: the film by Paola Cortellesi grossed 36.6 million euros, against just 4.4 of Matteo Garrone. Without taking anything away from Garrone’s work, C'è ancora domani was perhaps the Italian film of the year, of which everyone spoke on social media, yet this aspect has not been fully recognized by the jury of experts.

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Un post condiviso da Paola Cortellesi (@paolacortellesireal)

The biggest storm was mounted in the days of Sanremo, which saw the protagonists not so much Angelina Mango and Geolier, but the fans who were created around the two singers. Many accusations against the elitism of the press room, which did not stand out for class and elegance in those days: remember the whistles and the sentences against Campania and the singer of Secondigliano? Professionals not up to date on music trends (Geolier was rampant on Spotify and on social networks, throughout the country, well before Sanremo) on the one hand; an audience that cries out to vote rigged and that sees in the Neapolitan singer an example of social redemption, on the other. So it has come to have two truths, two winners of the festival, the official one and the national-popular one, in the sign of tradition: do you remember the analogous Mahmood-Ultimo story?

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Un post condiviso da RICH GUAPP’ (@geolier)

What about the Michelin stars? In the far west of the easy review and the preparation of consumers to the school "Sofa and Masterchef", does it still make sense for a restaurant to have the much-dreamed red label at its entrance? How much more powerful, in terms of image, is an arsenal of hashtags like #instafood, #foodgasm, #foodporn, or collaborations with local food influencers? A question that literally touches the belly of Italians, rejecting and rejecting everything that is defined as haute cuisine.

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Un post condiviso da MICHELIN Guide (official) (@michelinguide)

In 2015 a gentleman named Umberto Eco said that social media gave the same right of speech as a Nobel Prize winner to "legions of imbeciles": a strong statement, which certainly has a basis of truth, given the uncontrolled use of comment on social media. However, it cannot be used as an alibi for those environments that should naturally have a progressive soul, aimed at the new, free from prejudices, which instead prefer to rest on themselves and live on beliefs of superiority.



Illustration by Gloria Dozio - Acrimònia Studios