Criticizing the Critics
I cannot begin to imagine a worse job than being a critic. I'm not saying that I have no opinions, nor that I wouldn't like to share those opinions with anyone. What I'm saying is that I can't understand why critics do what they do, or why anyone listens to them.
I have never once read a critical review of something (call it X) and thought, "That critic was exactly right. I would have never noticed all those flaws in X before reading that article. I mean, who would have thought there were so many things wrong with X in the first place? I used to like X before I read that article, but now I realize what a moron I was. How could I possibly like X when it so obviously has all these flaws? That critic must be a genius to have noticed them all."
What is it that critics do? They find flaws in things! They look for the weak chinks in the armor of X, and publicly spew their opinions on the varying degrees of inadequacy they found. Personally, I am much more gratified by something if I look for the good things about it, rather than the flaws. When I go to watch a movie, I always enjoy it much more when I'm looking for the good things about it rather than the bad. One might say that a good critic can find a flaw in anything. Rather, I say that anyone can find a flaw in something. What takes real skill is giving constructive criticism. Very few criticisms I have read have ever given any constructive advice about how to improve on X rather than just pointing out the myriad flaws of X. Then again they might feel that this is overstepping their boundaries. "Who am I," they ask, "to be giving advice to X?"
What is so ironic about this is that a critic's opinion could never be wanted. Think about it. If you go to watch a movie X, and you really liked the movie, are you very likely to enjoy hearing someone blather on about how bad a movie it was? I've even thought about taking this to the next level and becoming an anti-critic. What I could do is look up all of that critic's personal preferences (music, movies, books, etc.) and send that person email after email explaining why I can't stand any of those things. Give them a taste of their own medicine. I could even be a critic anti-critic, who reads critics' articles and gives advice on how the article could be written better and what all of its weak points were. I can think of nothing more fun than that! I've always wondered--do critics actually enjoy finding flaws? If so, how utterly bizarre. I will never comprehend it.
Does all this mean that I think there are some things that should never be criticized? Indeed, it does. I think that if something is terrible enough to be criticized, that such effort is a waste. If it really was as bad as the critic points out, then what is the point in wasting the time to criticize it in the first place?
We have three options here. When it comes to a song, movie, book, or other work of art, anonymously titled "X," one of three things are possible.
1. It goes without saying that X was terrible, in which case critics are out of a job.
2. X is mediocre and is in need of constructive criticism, which I have found most critics to be terrible at providing.
3. X is worthy of praise and the flaws, if any, that are present should be ignored for the sake of enjoyment.
Critics seem content to simply ignore these categories, instead going on and on about what they dislike and why. I say we ignore them altogether. I say, who cares what critics think? I say, flaw finding is itself a flawed job, and critics should either give only constructive criticism or spend their time and negligible writing skills elsewhere.
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