The coming of the Internet Age dramatically changed the world of criticism.

It used to be that anyone who had a fascination with the movies would wait until their newspaper, or some other print publication, decided to write about a new movie.


As recently as a couple of decades ago, the words of the newspaper movie critic carried a lot of weight. Barry Levinson, the famous director from Baltimore who brought "Diner" to the big screen in 1982, recently lamented in a piece in The Baltimore Sun about how badly his movie was received by one scribe.

In a piece Levinson wrote for Sun Magazine in honor of the newspaper's 175th anniversary celebration this week, the director recalled he was horrified by a review in The Evening Sun. He wrote: "There are a lot of stories I remember reading in The Sun, many of them about sports – the story about Baltimore getting an NFL team, and the story about the St. Louis Browns moving to Baltimore. But the review of 'Diner' is the one that sticks out, because 'Diner' was the first movie I wrote and directed, and The Evening Sun's Lou Cedrone, who reviewed it, was an established and important critic in Baltimore at that time.

"It was one of those reviews where you pick it up and go, 'Oh, my God. This is devastating.' It was an incredibly vicious piece to read while I was having my morning coffee."

Those were the days. But since then, the Internet has turned the once staid environment of thoughtful criticism into the Wild, Wild West. All anyone needs to know about the state of movie criticism is that one of the more popular Web sites devoted to movie criticism is As in this movie is so bad that we should be throwing rotten tomatoes at the screen.

In Harford County this week, a moviegoer allegedly spared the rotten tomatoes but not the fire alarm. As the story goes, a customer was irate after finding out the showing of "The Avengers" movie he paid to see was in closed captioning. He was angry, made his feelings known and, allegedly, pulled a fire alarm on his way out of the theater to express his displeasure. He'll have his day in district court and an opportunity to tell his side of the story next month.

None of this should be astound anyone who has been in Harford County.

The rudeness, particularly among motorists on the roadways, is overwhelming. That misbehavior has, once again, shown its ugliness in a movie theater should not be a surprise. Crass behavior is always one of the reasons cited as why people choose not to go the movie theater, opting instead to watch their flicks at home.

That way, they can turn the closed captioning off.