Friday, October 4, 2013

Going Critical: Are You Entertained?

Most things critics ply their trade on is entertainment and art, and there's often very little difference between them.  There are critics for everything from webcomics (naturally) to pornography.  They aren't meant to be entertainment in and of themselves.  Sadly, however, they often are.

Especially with the growth of the internet.  The internet offers an open forum for opinions of all kinds to cross natural cultural, geographic and whatnot boarders, but it also means those opinions kind of drown underneath everyone else's opinions.  Criticisms are even harder to get through because, well as I said, critic is a dirty word to many.

Thus begins the rise of the "internet reviewer."  Reviewers are not strictly critics, but in general they are, well, entertainers.  Typically they end up on Youtube or where they show clips from a movie or TV show which they then make fun of.  Are they critics?  Well, kind of.  Their comments are critical that's for sure, but often it's in pursuit of a joke.  No one watches the Nostalgia Critic to get his honest opinion on a movie, they go to watch him rage about something.  That's the CHARACTER of the Nostalgia Critic, however, Doug Walker, the actor, is much more of a critic when out of character.

This trend means the most popular "critics" are usually just entertaining.  They rage, and cry and make jokes, but rarely do they do any actual criticism.  I've done it, as far back as my old Earthbeta review, albeit in my brief way.  Even my Blade Kitten review taps it, though it is far more reigned in than it could have been.  There's nothing wrong with being entertaining, at all, but if it falls back on destructive criticism, then has it done any good?

Criticism is about leading to better products, and most entertainer critics don't do that.  They are there just to yell at the product.  I suspect that a lot of the rage against critics stems from here because they don't really make constructive comments, or if they do, they're buried under jokes.  Worse, the really popular ones often have legions of fans who will agree with everything they said about the product.  This leads to entire comment sections filled with people who don't know WHY something is bad and how it might be fixed.

It also comes off as hateful and agressive.  Again, people don't watch Nostalgia Critic for honest opinions, they watch him for the rage.  His raging is funny, but it's not actual hatred for whatever he happens to be doing, usually.  Still, it comes off as trolling, as insulting just for the sake of insulting, when it's more in line with the tradition started with Mystery Science Theater 3000, of making fun of something just to have fun.

Of course, critics end up always riding that line.  Reading a critical review of anything is, well, not all that interesting.  So there's some spice to keep it interesting, or it's far shorter than it should be.  Otherwise all that remains is this kind of snooty commentary that is the opposite end of the reviewers, the snobs, whose opinions may be valid, but come off as condescending and insulting.  Of course, they then open themselves to mockery, otherwise the Cinema Snob wouldn't exist.  I try not to go into snob territory (might have crossed the line in Blade Kitten), but even honest commentary can get confused with snobbery.

Next time, I get into the real pitfall of being a critic, bias.  Until then kiddies.

No comments:

Post a Comment