Scott's argument was not lost on the generally older crowd in attendance at the Carlos Museum. The Academy itself plays an important role, along with critics, in defining the elements of popular culture that have the most value. While the public has flocked to see sci-fi eyepopper Avatar in record-breaking numbers, the Academy chose the Hurt Locker, a movie that Scott called "the best non-documentary about the Iraqi War," as its best picture for 2009, indicative of that film's role in telling the story of today's world. The declining role of critics in media must stand as cause for concern among its members as well, in the face of multiple online sites for movie ratings that are both democratic and chaotic.
A.O. Scott joined the New York Times in 2000 as a film critic and now writes in a number of that paper's sections, and has a syndicated film-reviewing show At The Movies. He writes about a broad range of popular culture topics for the Times, anything from The Simpsons to Romanian cinema. He was born in Massachusetts but currently lives in Brooklyn.
The speech was well-received by the crowd, which notably did not include many members of the Internet generation. Scott's fears about the state of criticism were not tempered with much optimism on the night, although he admitted that he had little sense of where the profession was going. Although he derided the "miserable state of criticism today" and had some particularly choice words for Internet critics, he also gave credit for the value of the Internet. At this point, both classical criticism and contemporary criticism share the marketplace. Whether that is a good thing or not is up for debate, with Mr. Scott seemingly on the side of classical criticism. Whether that wins out, however, has yet to be determined. When pressed about his views on the future of criticism, Scott quipped "Your guess is as good as mine."