Being a Critic (Why I Pay My Way)

I know, I know. I should put up reviews or something if I’m truly back as a music critic. There was something I wanted to address as a critic, but never thought it was appropriate until now. Looking at Twitter I saw the twitterverse up in a tizzy about Kevin Smith’s latest remarks about film criticism at Comic Con.

I’m honestly confused why people are upset given his disdain of critics. Then again, I know people will be upset with what I have to say…

I agree with Kevin Smith.

I agree that even in music every piece of work has a place. I may not like it, but that’s not the point. The point I see as a critic is twofold: help artists gain a perspective about their work as an observer (let me have my god complex on this one, ok?) and gain perspective for the critic’s own work. That’s part of the reason I stress that I performed and studied various art forms. It’s not some equivalent of the the fake nerd seeking attention, it’s not just some establishment of my credibility, it’s to show I’m doing this too. When I was still working on my degree in Dance I applied not only what I learned from theatre and music and writing, but I learned why certain theories or ideas took precedence and weren’t deviated. I took that experience and applied it to my own work. Even though I didn’t finish that degree I still choreograph for myself. It’s part of the process for me.

I really think that’s why most critics got in a tizzy about what Kevin Smith said. It’s that idea that many critics don’t actually practice what they criticize. I don’t know how true it is, I haven’t bothered to look into it. In this age where it isn’t hard to comment on anything as long as there’s internet access and appear authoritative. I know people argue that critics are part of the PR for films, but I feel that sentiment is obsolete thanks to the internet. A professional critic is no longer necessary when a random guy can give a review of practically anything.

I think also they get angry because he feels they should pay to see films they criticize. I also agree with paying your way as a critic, because honestly I love music. I would probably pay to see these bands perform anyway. I don’t like people asking my opinion about something as a music critic outside of my blog. Giving me “special treatment” beyond those parameters gets sticky for me. There’s also the appeal to my human nature that since I’m getting this special treatment I’m obligated to give a good review. It also draws attention away from me when I pay, because the rare moments where I got “special treatment” made me uncomfortable. I don’t like people stroking my ego for a good review. I don’t like that bias because I want to give as objective and honest of a review as possible. It’s that type of practice that led to many a hiatus (I still attended concerts during those times too). I’d rather pay up front, review and enjoy the music, then maybe introduce myself just to get the band’s website . I’d rather keep music about the musicians.

That’s the real key for me with all of this. I don’t know why other critics pursue this, but I just want it to be about the music. If you valued my opinion enough to see something, cool. If I valued my observations enough to refine my craft, cool. If I managed, regardless what I think of a band, to fund music because I plunked down the five bucks for a concert, even better.


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