Thursday, October 19, 2006

A Critical Look at the Critics, Part 2 of 3. 


Q: What criteria makes a "good" book? What makes something bad?

Me: This is a broad question, so I’m going to give a broad answer.

A good book is passion. The people involved need to care about what they’re doing, even if it’s paycheck work. If they don’t give a ****, it’s going to show in the material, and everyone will have wasted $3-$4 and 15 minutes of their time better spent sleeping or masturbating. There’s enough uninspired dreck out there, there really is no excuse to bring in even more of it. All dreck does is further clog an already overcrowded market with more of what it doesn’t need.

Q: Do you have any prior experience in journalism or reviewing other stuff (film, music, etc)? What's necessary to be a good critic/reviewer?

Me: Yes to both. I’ve been a writer since forever, and I’ve been doing film criticism since I was… I suppose 16 or so? And I haven’t stopped since then. I ran a comics blog for about two years, doing all the things it is bloggers do.

Short answer: Yes.

As to what makes a good critic or reviewer? Roughly the same qualities that a book should possess to be “good.” Passion, for one thing. An interesting perspective. An ironclad belief in the crazy notion that art, even pop art, is worth taking seriously. (Some of you are smirking now, saying “what a pretentious bastard,” and that is exactly why you should never be a critic.)

A good critic has an agenda. He or she wants to shape his or her audience, to help them understand what makes good art, so that they can make better, more informed decisions. This doesn’t and won’t have a direct impact on sales, but everyone benefits when everyone appreciates the art on a deeper level.

And anyone who says a reviewer just “tells you if something is good or bad,” well, they shouldn’t be revewers either.

(More next week. Did it needed to be divided into three parts? Probably not, but there you go.)

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