Most of the Time, It’s Somewhere In the Middle
It’s wonderful how the Internet creates friction where very little of it exists.
It tells us that Martin Scorsese and Ridley Scott think Marvel movies are, essentially, trash. Okay.
It posts an article to tell us why and how the Republicans have no shame and are full of shit, and that the Woke crowd are militantly tone deaf and full of shit. Okay.
Leonard Cohen was quoted in an article about the Beatles, saying that “They didn’t seem to be essential to the nourishment I craved.” In other words, they simply weren’t to his taste. Okay.
And the internet appeals to our sense of schadenfreude. That is, that pleasure we derive from another person’s misfortune. I use to love Ridley Scott, but for quite a while now I’ve found him tedious and pompous. His movies bug me too. So any article that trashes him warms me up. Bait and click is derided by everyone, but everyone still uses it in one way or another. Hey, I’m game.
But there are critics, and there are critics. Some critics have to get things off their chest and foist it onto ours. Others think that by getting what they see as the “last word” their vision of reality becomes the truth. Look at Taylor Swift, pronouncing her recorded romantic fatwas online and in her albums. Yes, the last word. It reminds me of high school, a weak unfocused zinger was slung at someone, the pronouncement itself was innocuous. What was rousing and angering, though, were the other students making a huge fuss about it, as if the weak-ass zinger was a Sicilian mouth-kiss of death, judging and marking the recipient. “Oh shit!!!” “Goddamn!!!” “Jeeze!!!” Disparaging water turned into vitriolic wine.
Other critics are usefully engaged in trying to widen our horizons.
I’ve read all the negative things about Villeneuve’s Dune. I agree with large portions of it. I still love the movie.
I’ve read articles praising Taylor Swift’s ground breaking songs and business savy, and I can envy her while still not changing my opinion of her music.
I can listen to a friend’s praise of gazpacho. I nod, wish I could like it (it sounds so good), but hell, I still hate cold soup.
It’s like telling Salvador Dali that his wife has a large nose and her eyes are too close. You think he would have loved her less?
It’s like telling me that John Lennon was a misogynist and a wife beater. That’s not cool, bro. But: I still love I Am The Walrus, Baby You’re a Rich Man and Across the Universe.
As a female critic pointed out when Mario Batali was felled by the Me Too movement, did this mean that she needed to get rid of Batali’s Pasta alla Puttanesca recipe, which she loved?
Some things are very good. Some things are very bad. Some things are a matter of jurisprudence. Others are simply matters of taste.
Read (good) critics with whom you disagree with a pinch of salt. It’ll make what they’re saying a little more palatable.
And remember, you don’t have to eat all of it.