Saturday, 30 May 2015

He's Gonna Blow!

Wait a minute: this might become interesting.

I might be on the verge of throwing a massive tantrum. The books are opening on what might cause a screaming fit. The only thing preventing a series of rants - without any punctuation and plenty of swears - is the doubt that I have the authority to make my complaint anything more than bad grace. 

But, criticism, really? I have dedicated a fair whack of the past decade to critique, and I am ready to throw it into the corner of my room, like the sulky toddler my friends already know I am.

In order for this rant to avoid personal insults, I am going to talk in generalities. I'd much rather back up my claims by referencing specific instances, but in many cases this would mean picking on students, and young writers, who are testing out their skills in public. And I am all for that.

It is only when these reviews appear as star ratings on Facebook that I want to burn my collection of Kenneth Tynan's essays. The problem is not that there is loads of poor reviewing on the interwebs. The problem is that positive reviews, that do little to prove that the writer has the first idea about what they were watching but blithely announce that the show was worth four stars, have become currency of aesthetic value.

Now, I am interested. I set out on this post with the attention of moaning about the reviewers. Suddenly, I realise that it is the artists who are to blame. Willing to repost anything, as long as it supports the work, they have encouraged a large number of minor websites and magazines to become the arbiters of quality.

Of course, I am not advocating a return to the old idea that certain critics - those on a proper newspaper, say - are 'accredited' and 'legitimate'. But the alternative - any opinion counts, which I do accept - is only valuable if these opinions are not reduced to star ratings.

Ach, it gets too complicated... in the olden days, there was a clear line between the company's official releases and the personal opinions of company members... now, Facebook lets personal opinion become public, and I am getting angry because a Facebook friend has expressed delight that a critic liked their show... and then I read the review and it was so tame and boring and ignorant... 

Doesn't matter... doesn't matter...

Yes it fucking does. Criticism is a vital part of the creative cycle, and deserves to be taken seriously. Writers who expect ballet when they see a choreographer in the crew list do not deserve to be given the same respect as writers who have ruined their potential career as teachers of Latin to chase after the perfect form of critique. Me. Me. Me. I matter.

Cut to the chase: I want better criticism. Not agreeing with my opinions, but arguing a case for the production's quality. And yes, I fail at this, too. 

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