Saturday, June 16, 2007

Mediocre Criticism

I keep feeling that we as a species are mediocre, satisfied by it, if we aren’t too busy glorifying it. I too, suffer from the same ailment; mediocre at best at the things that I do. But this isn’t about doing, this is about critics.

What is a critic’s job? Is he supposed to judge an action or performance based on the mediocre standards we set for ourselves or with the elite few that surpass our standards many fold? I guess that would depend on many factors. Perhaps the level of interest would be one. I would not judge an amateur act against a professional act, simply because of the amount of time they invest in learning their specific skill sets. I am sure I could come up with a bunch of other “guidelines” I implicitly use to gauge an action.

But this brings me to my question, What if something is mediocre after compared to those that fall within its most comparable sub-sets? A professional football player would be judged with another player, of the same era and then decided if mediocre. But this takes the “discussion” to a totally different course. So I shall steer clear of the fine line of what that appropriate “sub-set” really is.

But having identified that sub-set, and having judged an action as mediocre compared to the other actions from within those most alike, is it fair to elevate the performance based on the fact that the critic is incapable of that level of performance? I have had this argument thrown in my face that I should reserve my comments unless I was capable of out-performing the person whose act I am criticizing. This argument actually amazes me, since it denies the very nature of a critic and the logic that governs it. Movie critics are not the cream of movie directors, actors, editors, writers etc. Some perhaps have no experience in the movie making industry and all knowledge is purely academic.

If you can't take a good kicking, you shouldn't parade how much luckier you are than other people.
Charles Saatchi

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