Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Do we need critics?

EW's Whitney Pastorek asks a good question to think about as I go to NY for the film critics institute: "What's the critic's role in a comment-board world?"

Am I a Frank Rich or a Pauline Kael? HELL to the no. But I consider myself a proud part of that tradition. I've spent the better part of my adult life educating myself, cultivating opinions, learning about the journey of art through the ages. I take in almost-inconceivable amounts of music, movies, books, television, and media so that I can report on pop culture with an eye on its place in history. I also take time to craft that reporting, to shape my opinions. I take time to present them in a compelling way. I worry over commas, I fret over em-dashes. I use spell-check. I'm inspired by all those amazing voices that came before me, and, as with any craft, I aspire to be excellent at mine. And I believe that, if used properly and responsibly, it is a craft that has great value. I do not know that our society would be a better place if everyone was allowed to perform surgery or build skyscrapers or drive big-rig trucks just because technology came along that made those activities available to the masses at the click of a button. I don't see what makes cultural criticism any different.
This next sentence says it all, and should be recited by everyone with a keyboard and a blogger account.
Just because you can type into the little box and press "post" doesn't mean you should.

1 comment:

Big Dave T said...

But it's so much fun to hit the post button when there are people who actually look forward to reading what you post. Right?

Yeah, we need movie critics. But I think it's important that they not take themselves too seriously too(I miss Gene Siskel). I asked a buddy, who is a professor of literature and a big movie maven as well, about your comment to me earlier regarding the frequent divide between critics' choices and public taste. Here are his comments, which echo my thoughts as well.

"I just love to read and view great books and films and share what I know with others who some interest in such things. Does it make me superior--not a lick! We are all entitled to our personal
tastes. One man's treasure, you know, is another man's trash, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, etc. etc. Would I love to see better movies, films, televison, books, definitely. Would I like to the the arbiter of
taste---no! I still believe in democracy in many guises. We live in a market economy, let the market decide. Do I agree with the market, generally no, but would humanity be better served with this blogger making our choices for us? Doubtful."