Other Arts

Jason Gross

Fine writing outside of music but still bearing on music.

Ty Burr: "Sandra, Meet Ingmar: The Education of a Critic"

(Boston Globe, April 15, 2007)

Subtitle: "Film reviewer's role is to provide context." It's also the role of a music reviewer. As Burr notes, engaging in high-brow wankery belongs in academic circles and not in local or national publications.

Matt Eagan: "The Decline of the Critic"

(Hartford Courant, December 2, 2007)

With movie reviewers and book reviewers getting canned at many publications, which then rely on national wire services to provide them all with the same review, how much diverse opinion are we going to have out there anymore? No wonder people are looking to blogs to pick up the slack.

Josh Getlin: "Battle of the Book Reviews"

(Los Angeles Times, May 13, 2007) [link no longer available]

Ah, the ongoing battle of newspaper scribes and bloggers. In a world where wire service writers replace more and more print writers, online DIY sites are seen as the enemy, when in fact they're a natural part of this online (r)evolution, like it or not.

Jay Handelman: "Critic John Simon keeps dishing it out"

(Herald Tribune, March 4, 2007)

Simon's thoughts, shared with a group of peers: "A critic has to be as good as any writer... A critic has to be as good as any good teacher... a critic should be a thinker, to know as much about the world as possible. You should think about what's going on in the world and reflect on it as it pertains to a play."

Judith Mackrell: "Up Close and Personal"

(The Guardian, January 17, 2007)

A dance critic wonders about the ever-porous boundary between critics and their subjects. Ideally, you'd think that writers would be above any favoritism, but it's not so clear cut in the real world. "We play a double game as critics. We do our best to erase personal loyalties from our writing, yet we are hired for our personal opinions and our personal knowledge. We aspire to being objective, yet it's our involvement with the art form and the practitioners that makes us do the job."

Stephen Page: "Publish or Be Damned"

(The Guardian, March 3, 2007)

Granted that the president of the Publishers Association and chief executive of Farber & Farber isn't exactly going to be objective about his own industry, but no label in the music business has made such a smart, impassioned argument about why artists still need them in the Net age and how they can actually mutually benefit from their work.

Peter Rainer: "In Defense of Film Critics"

(Christian Science Monitor, April 27, 2007)

The field of criticism is under attack so much that articles which try to fight back are everywhere now. Rainer's piece stands out for making a passionate case about why critics shouldn't have to cheer on blockbusters all the time. "One reason the public feels comfortable lashing out at a critic for having the temerity to pan Ghost Rider or Norbit is because we live in a winner culture."

Daniel B. Smith: "Creative vigilantes"

(Boston Globe, December 23, 2007)

With all of the fights in the music industry and Congress about copyright protection, other fields that deal with the same problem in less restrictive ways may have some sane ideas about how to deal with this: magicians, cooks, comedians. Sounds weird but they can't possibly do any worse than how the music business handles this now.

James Walcott: "Critical Condition"

(The New Republic, December 4, 2007)

The sorry state of book reviewers has a lot in common with music journalists: unsteady work, low pay, little recognition, dealing with different editors' temperaments and more. It gets much worse actually and Walcott is so spot-on and painful that I'm not inclined to quote him here.

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