The Third Leader: Critical bashing

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Who would be a critic? Victims of a heartwarming concern for one's fellows and a sense of the aesthetic that impose an inescapable obligation to warn and advise, their reward seems to be either tedium or obloquy. And now some of them have been beaten up in a boxing ring in Vancouver by an angry film director. Really. Still unmoved? I should add that all four were volunteers, and that their opponent was Dr Uwe Boll, regarded (and with some justice, I might add, if it were not for my cowardice issues) as the worst film director in the world.

Indeed: Dr Boll's film adaptations of computer games have now attracted 14,802 signatures to a petition asking him to stop. His latest, BloodRayne, prompted this gem, from Stephen Whitty of the Newark Star-Ledger: "'You don't know the meaning of pain!' our heroine hisses at one point. Oh, honey, believe us, we do."

Dr "Raging" Boll's bouts were mostly a PR stunt: the fights will feature in his (sorry, you 14,802) next film. But whither from here? Politicians, football managers, transport chiefs, utilities bosses, Charlotte Church's producer, entire call centres? Artistically - and one thinks here of Ken Russell beating Alexander Walker over the head with a rolled up copy of his own newspaper - the spontaneous and unstructured should surely be preferred. What, though, remains certain is that the brave critic, guarantor of our most basic freedoms, will never be stifled: this, for example, was Chris Alexander in Vancouver: "I think I got him once in the face for Alone in the Dark and I got maybe one or two in for BloodRayne." Bravo!

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