Eclecticist: Professional Critics
Show Notes & Research
Broadcast: 12th August, 2013
Last update: 13th August, 2013
- Intro music
- Introduction and description of the podcast, goals, modus operandi
but what is Ecleticist?
- What An investigation of everything from a British perspective by two brothers who consider themselves to be normal chaps,who discuss one topic at a time
- How Choose a topic of interest, spend a little time researching it, have a discussion, publish the notes
- Why The chief benefit is the fostering of a greater understanding of the world before death and to hopefully prompt further thought and discussion
- Who Benjamin de-Campos (designer, believer), Geoffrey Campos (engineer, sceptic)
- Introduce the topic: Professional Critics
Everybody's a critic. In essence, review is criticism which is judgement. We all do it and we all commonly listen to the criticism by others. In our day to day lives we develop opinions and judge the merits and demerits of virtually everything with the intention of basic discrimination. In this show, we will talk about criticism in the celebrity sense as used by those in the trade, we're criticising professional critics, their motivations, values, weaknesses and utility.
(What we’re not talking about.)
- Classical criticism
- Definitions (according to the OED - you can access for free if you have a UK library card)
- Critic Noun. One who pronounces judgement on any thing or person; esp. one who passes severe or unfavourable judgement; a censurer, fault-finder, caviller. (A cavil is someone who makes petty objections.)
- Critique Noun. An essay or article in criticism of a literary (or more rarely, an artistic) work; a review.
- Criticise Intransitive. To play the critic; to pass judgement upon something with respect to its merits or faults. (Often connoting unfavourable judgement.)
- Definition of a professional critic
- A person who strives to get paid for critical works
- Kant: ‘judging as to the possibilities of knowledge before advancing to knowledge itself’ - Kant was credited with coining ‘critical philosophy’
- The differences between critique (compare against a type, template, progenitor etc), review (discussion of events) and analysis (pulling apart)
- Why become a critic? Is it a personality type? Are there different critics who have markedly different characters? Does the job impose a particular comportment?
- Someone might like books and want a job that involves reading. Does critique naturally follow?
- polemicist Of the nature of, exhibiting, given to, or relating to dispute or controversy; contentious, disputatious, combative;
- Highly subjective, relatively concise reviews of typically large (in word count and time of composition) works.
- Book critics are almost always published authors
- Do they determine which films are worthwhile to see? How do we choose a film to watch? What are the criteria?
- Should reviews only be read after going to see a film?
- Completely loved Roger Ebert’s review of 2001: A Space Odyssey from 1997 (released in 1968). Very short, extremely concise and fair.
- Very subjective and dependent on current environment and physical state.
- Seems very corrupt
- Unlike other critics, they must (preferably) be anonymous as theirs is a critique of a performance art of sorts (art, below)
- Wine critics are fooling us Observer
- Most food critics have worked in the trade if not have owned/run restaurants or businesses closely allied to the trade. They often now what they’re talking about but are themselves susceptible to ‘search bubble’ like entrapment
- A. A. Gill
- This heading encompasses a very broad area
- Often but not always critics are previous contenders in the field
- The power of critics
- Curation: power of, prescriptive, there’s too much of everything, there’s always someone who knows more, it’s easier to know the audience, big data, currents
- Academic. Critics can compel you owing to their erudition in their field e.g. knowing the history and influences on a performer etcetera
- The power of celebrity. Critics can speak of social connections around a product giving them rare insight
- Respect through harmony or consistent accuracy
- Ability to analyse and contrast different but related works e.g. criticism of two works on bugs
- Things that can affect a critic’s viewpoint
- boredom - burn-out, apathy, cynicism
- sponsors - don’t want to lose work, interviews/access, shills
- Moral or political agenda e.g. don’t like music from label X because they invest in cluster bombs
- social links - not wanting to trample toes or born bridges, nepotistic reasons
- consistency - past opinion on similar or related works
- physical state - drunk, asleep, blind, deaf
- cabal - move with the herd, don’t want to be blackballed
- vindictive Critique used to denigrate
- cheap, poor
- analytical, academic
- criticism as basic discrimination, describing what something isn’t or how it differs from type
- opportunistic ie, a chance to pump one’s ego and tell the world ‘how wonderful I am’.
- freelance rent-a-gobbery
- salaried staffers
- unpaid hobbyists
- Slate Culture Gabfest, Slate movies with Dana Stevens (creaker)
- How relevant are food critics given individual taste?
- Feeding frenzy e.g. the killing of Ishtar
- performatives? Being enacted as it is said e.g. "I name this ship The Good Hope"
- Are critics pompous? Do they have to be?
- Contrived, controversial criticism as entertainment
- nods, winks and harmonised opinions? Do critics work in packs?
- People - need to not attract lawsuits here, might need to use vagaries or weasel words
- Career critics or ‘the critics’
- The subjectivity of criticism
- When critics make predictions
- Unintentional or conditioned confirmation bias
- Mark Kermode religious upbringing therefore thinks The Exorcist was scary
- Effects of celebrity criticism on
- entertainment media
- When criticism is useful (if ever) ‘constructive criticism’
- raising awareness of unpublicised but pertinent additional or supporting information – does that fall under criticism? That’s ‘news’ or a ‘synopsis’ surely. A good critic will introduce his audience to related or pertinent ‘further reading’, an education attribute
- artists and so-called ‘content creatives’ can only have their own opinion/viewpoint. External criticism can force them out of a delusion e.g. ‘that character serves only to distract the reader from the plot’. Too close to the product, ‘Can’t see the wood for the trees’.
- When criticism is used to promote an agenda or maintain the status quo
- Unlikely a critic will be too savage with someone’s work if an interview is in the offing
- You don't need a critic to tell you people aren't laughing. - Chris Rock
- The covers of this book are too far apart. - Ambrose Bierce
- Don’t criticize what you don’t understand, son. You never walked in that man’s shoes. - Elvis Presley
- Criticism demands infinitely more culture than artistic creation. Pierre Bayard, How to Talk About Books You Haven't Read
- Thanks, plug for the site, future podcast
- Outro music choice - something open source so we don’t get sued
Mark Kermode’s BBC site: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/markkermode/
Iron Sky film: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1034314/
Mark Kermode’s review of Iron Sky: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/markkermode/posts/kermode_uncut_iron_sky
Correction: The Pacific Rim (film) director is Guillermo del Toro and not Benito del Toro.
Brian Sewell (art critic): http://www.briansewell.co.uk/home.html
Vanilla (manufactured girl band) ‘No way, no way’ music video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V_D-qJ4hfss