I hate Critics. People whose entire careers are predicated on being the moral, social or artistic arbiters of what we mere mortals should or should not read, view or think.
Snobbery takes many forms, and the role of the Critic is one of the more insidious. As much as I love snark and sarcasm, the Critic debases art in an effort to elevate themselves at the expense of those who strive to create.
“Hypocrite!” you may cry. “You have filled these pages with criticism time and again.” Yes. Yes I have. Yet I am only spouting opinions on things artistic, cultural and politic. I have not once tried to use my thoughts on life to sway how you should live yours. That is for free will to decide. Case in point? This diatribe.
What got my goat this week about Critics? Quick aside - where did that phrase originate? Apparently from horse racing. According to the Innertubes, goats were placed in a horse’s stall on the night before a race to keep the thoroughbreds calm. You learn something new every day. Now back to your regularly scheduled rant…
Everyone knows I am a Science Fiction geek. My latest nerd crush is Fox Network’s new Sci-Fi series “The Orville.” Created by “Family Guy’s” Seth McFarlane, the show pays homage to “Star Trek” by mixing humor, action and social commentary.
Fans love it, which means, naturally, Critics hate it. Just to prove how people of their ilk confuse destructive and constructive criticism, take a peek at the Cinematic Upper Crust’s reviews of some of Science Fiction’s more enduring titles:
The Chicago Reader’s Dave Kehr described Ridley Scott’s “Alien” as "An empty-headed horror movie with nothing to recommend it."
When Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” was released, the Washington Post’s Stephen Hunter described it as "Pretentious, abysmally slow, amateurishly acted and, above all, wrong."
George Lucas’ groundbreaking “Star Wars” fared no better. According to Peter Keough of the Boston Phoenix,
"Star Wars is a junkyard of cinematic gimcracks not unlike the Jawas' heap of purloined, discarded, barely functioning droids."
Not to be outdone, The New York Time’s Vincent Canby opined on what is widely considered to be the best of the original “Star Wars” trilogy, “The Empire Strikes Back.” Snarked Canby, "The Empire Strikes Back is about as personal as a Christmas card from a bank."
Christopher Nolan is a filmmaking genius. His movie “Inception” is a work of art. Unless you’re Kelly Vance from the East Bay Express, who groused "One way to salvage some fun with this blunderbuss would be to fall asleep while watching and dream up a better movie yourself. Try it. You'll avoid a headache."
It makes me wonder why the profession of Critic even exists. Imagine how much wonder and awe generations would have missed if they had relied on these reviewers
to give an accurate appraisal of someone else’s work.
The next time a movie, book, CD, TV show, live performance or art exhibit strikes your fancy, don’t let someone else tell you whether you should like it.
Take a chance.