While we here at Vulture have poked some good-natured fun at Paul Dergarabedian over the years for being a bit, oh, say, quote-whorish, yesterday’s Los Angeles Times ran a blistering feature on self-proclaimed “movie dude” Ben Lyons that was tantamount to a hit piece. Over the course of some 1,800 words (!), reporter Chris Lee chronicled the Ben Lyons Hate Storm that has been picking up steam ever since he and Ben Mankiewicz were named as Richard Roeper’s successors on the once-beloved At the Movies syndicated show. Lee goes to great lengths to speak to sources that were willing to go on the record to bash Lyons, quotes that run the gamut from “he has no taste” (Erik Childress, V.P. of Chicago Film Critics Association) to “he crystallizes everything that’s wrong with American pop culture right now” (Scott Johnson, editor of StopBenLyons.com). Perhaps fueled by the unbridled scorn that the highbrow film-critic establishment shows the decidedly populist Lyons, Lee also found himself unable to resist the temptation to editorialize his own thoughts:
With his meat-and-potatoes good looks, frat-boy bonhomie and straight-down-the-pike delivery — more reminiscent of a SportsCenter commentator than an erudite cultural arbiter — Lyons is certainly not your father’s movie reviewer.
Yikes, so much for holiday cheer! These critical barbs that Lyons is enduring wouldn’t mean much if his show was registering with viewers, but the show’s ratings are down 22 percent when compared to the same time period last year. However, if you’re looking for a silver lining, the show’s ratings have only dipped 4 percent in the coveted demographic of 18- to 34-year-old males. Then again, as Jeffrey Wells once famously pointed out over at his blog, Hollywood Elsewhere, “The Two Bens show is aimed at the apes, under-35 morons who just want to see a few clips and maybe absorb a couple of fast cracks before they channel-surf onto the next distraction.” So, um, mission accomplished?