SPLITTING HAIRS




EPISODE VII: Art Critics

Max & Nicky discuss the pros and cons of art criticism.

Intro and Outro Music
Written, mixed, and produced by Nicky Weinbach

One thought on “SPLITTING HAIRS

  1. A few points to raise on this episode.

    1. Good art criticism is a form of literature in and of itself. Have you ever read any of Harold Bloom’s criticism? In particular, I’d recommend Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human and The Western Canon. He’s going well beyond talking about just what’s good and bad in literature and getting into deeper philosophical insights about the nature of aesthetics and beauty that enlightens and enriches the experience of reading the underlying work. The best art criticism is like this.

    2. When it comes to general movie, book, etc reviews in newspapers or online, for me their value is purely economic. I have a limited amount of time and money and can’t partake in everything that I might want to. For art that is either expensive (Broadway theater, video games) or time consuming (novels, video games), I need some sorting mechanism to separate art that is likely to be good from that which is likely to be bad. I can only get to NYC occasionally and only have the money to see, at most, one or two shows a year when I’m in the States. I’m simply not going to see a show that isn’t recommended by the New York Times, knowing that even half of those I’m probably not going to like all that much. Its fine to give stuff a shot, particularly movies in which the opportunity cost is, at most, $12 and two hours time, but that just doesn’t work for books, video games, live theater.

    3. I think its Max’ ultimate conclusion that perhaps if a reviewer doesn’t like something, he or she shouldn’t review it at all, is interesting but doesn’t really work, in my opinion. Criticism is about making aesthetic judgement. I tend to believe that there are objective standards of aesthetic quality and criticism has a role to play in sorting the good from the bad. A really bad movie (think: Transformers) really should be called out as such. That being said, reviewers should try to separate more objective assessments from instances in which something simply isn’t to their taste.

    4. What I can’t tolerate, however, is this phenomenon that I’m seeing more and more of, particularly online of the hipster/millennial/Facebook/hive mind coming to an abrupt, orthodox and often uninformed opinion on a work. La la Land is a prime example of this.

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