Monday, January 08, 2007

Critic Mutation

Today Arts Guardian leads with an article by Peter Bradshaw titled Call Yourself a Critic? reflecting on the blogger/newspaper debate. He stresses the revolutionary nature of what has been happening:
Part of what's happening is that newspapers have, for hundreds of years, been a one-party state, and the net has brought that state to an end. Before the web, there was no serious opposition to the press in the press. Newspapers might express the most virulent opposition to every other institution in British public life: to the Church of England, political parties, the monarchy - anything but the press. Our media sections have nothing like the full-throttle, uncensored criticism of the press routinely expressed in blogs.
As a newspaper critic he says that this new critical attitude by bloggers to newspaper arts criticism has been a bracing, invigorating but often uncomfortable experience, and concludes:

The web and blogging have hugely increased the scope for such debates. The critic is finding that the newly empowered bloggers do not share his or her opinions about the new film, play or book, and especially his or her high opinion of him- or herself. So critics must sharpen their wits, clarify their opinions - and, just as importantly, get a sense of humour about themselves.
Both Bradshaw and music critic Dorian Lynsky in a companion article muse thoughtfully on the style of debate which has ensued and will ensue in future, but while Lynsky avers:
In an ideal world, there should be room for both print critics and online ones, with plenty of overlap between them. Good writing is good writing, wherever it appears
he slips into hierarchical Us-Them mode after all, appearing at one point to refer to newspaper critics and bloggers as critics and readers and concentrating on the commenters on his own posts (reactors to 'real' criticism), and the print version of his article is titled significantly, Calling all my hecklers.

Speaking for myself, I will never forget the feeling of exposure the first time I put up a post all without the protection of the time-honoured authority of the printed publication (which I have also experienced), and it is through writing their own blog posts that these journalists are coming to experience this for themselves.


Ms Baroque said...

Yes, and it's also like being a bit naked, because no one is responsible for it but you - no one asked you to write it, sanctioned it, edited your words.

But - & I hinted at this in a post last month sometime - is there not a parallel between blogging, and the pamphlets poeple used to put out? Cheap print was also a great liberator of people's opinions and a lot of political pamphleteering was done almost as samizdat, of course. Anonymously.

Elizabeth Baines said...

An excellent parallel.

Blogaulaire said...

There's room for disagreement here between all of us - what blogs bring IMHO is not all such a grand thing compared with what's being called 'authority' here.

Authority in the back'n'forth with blogs is being replaced by personality, style, diliberate misreading, et cetera. There's really no free lunch for democracy in communications.

Some people, as much as it amazes me, feel intimidated around me in an editorial setting. I'm sure others feel fine being patronizing towards yours truly as well. I do not, amazing again, get any different vibes off the Internet doing chat, email or blogging. Could I be delusional about this?

We're all into spinning words.

Per Baroque and pamphleteering: well I've done some of that. What I found liberating was to find a voice (though it was not exactly my own) and when people liked my political propaganda. But it was also unliberating when, before the mimeo stencil was cut, my text was submitted to criticism. Pamphleteering like that was taken so damn seriously. Reflecting on it, I'd say more seriously than professional publications (and every pamphleteer represented a CAUSE). Maybe that's the democratic thing about electronic communication: now we call that sort of writing a rant, cutting down a notch or two.
I look forward to inter-lingual blogging. Quick and dirty comm between people using Native language but between multilingual participants. This would be great for art criticism because Europeans approach it much differently from North Americans and South Americans . . and Asians, I cannot begin to think . . .

Pants said...

Readers recognise the context in which a critique is placed and the mainstream press need not fret about that unless of course they have reason to think their critics have less authority than the rabble in the blogosphere.