Monday, May 21, 2007

Richard Schickel's Asinine Opinion

Richard Schickel argues that only the elite should be allowed to criticize, and that Blogging is nothing more than "talking."

"Criticism — and its humble cousin, reviewing — is not a democratic activity. It is, or should be, an elite enterprise." (The poorly conjugated verb is his, not mine.)

Arguing for a purely elitist critical world is the equivalent of a totalitarian society in which the definition of art is determined by a few powerful people (like Stalin or Hitler). Criticism is the ultimate democracy. As the then-future governor once said, "Opinions are like a-holes. Everybody has one."

Some of us ARE one. Schickel needs to catch up with a new century. (Perhaps the 20th would be enough.) He argues that one of the purposes of criticism is to open a dialogue across the ages, then implies that the web is somehow inferior at this, when it is by definition more appropriate than traditional print criticism at opening dialogue.

He argues that film critics must have "credentials" other than "loving film" in order to write. One of my favorite film critics is James Berardinelli. He was trained as an engineer, has no formal critical training, and loves movies. His reviews are not "for print, with its implication of permanence" but instead are on the web, where criticism is, more than ever, the dialogue that will last through the ages.

Worst of all, Schickel argues that "Opinion — thumbs up, thumbs down — is the least important aspect of reviewing" in an article that is nothing but... HIS OPINION! He doesn't even understand his own writing.

If anyone should have his critical license revoked, it's Schickel.
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