Thursday, April 22, 2010

High Drama

Pretty ridiculous goings-on at the TimeOut review for The Taming of the Shrew. The central flaw in thinking about criticism is treating the critic as anything other than an audience member. Anyone can fall into this trap - critics especially - but what matters is that they're audience members, it's their whole claim to legitimacy and the whole point of reading their opinions.


Dingbat said...

Ahhh...the comments! Took me a minute to find the goings-on.

"Barry" wins the thread, in a landslide. Have you seen Shrew, meanwhile? We're going in June.

Anonymous said...

An audience member, yes. But one who is unusually hard to please and carries a very big megaphone.

Benedict Nelson said...

I haven't seen Shrew yet, though I'm super curious. Anonymous, you're on to something, but I think in an ideal world it isn't true. It's certainly the mental image the word "critic" conjures up: hard to please, disaffected, jaded, pretentious. I hope I'm none of those things. I hate writing bad reviews, though I know some enjoy it (see Roger Ebert's I HATED, HATED, HATED THIS MOVIE).

The megaphone is certainly true, and one of the reasons comments sections are so great. I don't mean to be a critical apologist, I just think it's important that in the increasingly democratized media landscape that the internet has created, we have to remember that the republicanism of reviewing is exactly that. It's not bad or backward, it's expedient. The Public, who can't see every show, has an representative and that representative is the critic.

Now Kris Vire is a guy with great taste who I respect a lot. So what he as an individual thinks of a show is important to me on a personal level, like whether or not Miranda likes a show. But I'm nobody, and I can't imagine that anyone cares what Benno thinks particularly. It's like if you see a guy coming out of a parking lot you ask him "Are there any spots in there?" It's not because he seems particularly trustworthy, it's not that he's an expert in parking architecture, it's just that he's been there.

He could be an expert in architecture, which would maybe make his opinion particularly helpful (there's plenty of space, but the whole thing's about to collapse), he may be a misanthrope (why bother parking at all), he may be an idiot (I don't know), he may tell you "no" and be wrong, but the reason you bothered to ask him is completely independent of all that.

Barry said...

Appreciate the love, Dingbat.

James said...

The high-end of this interplay REALLY entertains me. But sadly, (as Kris said) the anonymity of the internet fosters a race for the bottom of discourse.