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Entries in Critic (2)

Tuesday
Aug172010

Worstness.

This is one of the worst things that has ever happened on American television. Now, I say that partly to shock you. Although only partly. Hear me out.

Why is this kid allowed on national television to review movies and by extension - discuss the art of cinema? Who is he? Is he some sort of wunderkind that possesses an amazingly diverse knowledge of film? Or is he just some child that has been allowed to morph into this hideous caricature of what a movie critic ought to be? 

Let me be absolutely clear - I don't harbour any ill will toward this pre-teen boy. At least not any more than the average level of hatred I feel for all young people. I completely blame his appearance on my computer screen (and American television sets) on his parents and the producers of this particular show. Someone should call child protective services.

So why is he here? Is he here to discuss the craft of movie making? The art of telling stories and evoking emotions through a visual medium? Has he perhaps thought of some fresh, new, borderline revolutionary approach to interpreting the foggy old motion pictures? Of course not. His sole purpose on the show is as a curiosity. Some sort of freakish man-boy who acts and talks like someone thrice his age. A middle aged, no talent, complete and utter douche bag. Is this what we are reduced to? Watching someone who has yet to reach puberty spout his unfounded opinions on movies, and critiquing what amounts to the culmination of other people's professional careers? Seriously?

I am not even implying that this kid doesn't have the right to his opinions, tastes and musings. If indeed they are his own. What I am saying however is that they have no place on a major media outlet. They should be restricted to his YouTube account or blog or Twitter. Or what ever the hell it is that young folk use these days.

Sure, most people probably do not mind at all. They aren't in the least bit troubled that he has taken the place of someone who might actually have a God damn idea of what they're saying. I however do mind. I do not think that intelligent discussion on art should take a back seat to some ratings grabbing oddity with red hair. Who clearly has only really learned the tropes of a public speaker and not the actual mental prowess of a debater or critic. But maybe that's good enough for most people. As long as he appears to know what he's talking about - it'll do. After all, that's almost the same thing as actual arguments, right?

I'm going to wildly speculate here and propose that this is a symptom of a modern misguided belief that "Everyone's opinions matter equally as much.". This idea that no matter who you are or what the subject matter - your opinion has an equal value to that of everyone else's. Well, it bloody well does not. A neurologists opinion on what to do in case of a stroke should (and thankfully does) matter a whole hell of a lot more than what I might be able pull out of my ass from having watched all episodes of House M.D.

In ordinary society this becomes a problem of course, as we have a problem of gauging someone's intelligence, level of knowledge and aptitude towards the issue at hand. This forces us to hear everyone out in order to know which people we can ignore. We simply cannot immediately determine how reliable they are as a source of information from appearances and background alone. Unless they look like an outright homicidal loon and the topic of discussion isn't: "How to get bloodstains out of the carpet in the trunk of my car.". In essence, we have no quantifiable way of measuring these things, to keep track. Like, say: a number. 

Only in this case we do. It's called his age. It's eleven.* And it doesn't add up to being anywhere near enough. Certainly not to allow him onto broadcast television and discussing anything more advanced than what he ate for dinner today. Randomly tripping over some truth is not the same thing as being knowledgeable. What's next? Babies reviewing classical music?

 ‎"Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.'" - Isaac Asimov

*How was he even allowed into a PG-13 movie to begin with?

Friday
Nov142008

Illusions of Purpose and Choice.

I have no idea where I'm headed in life. I have ambitions, sure, but very little skill to make these feverish visions of mine into reality. I'm not a demonic director, driven by my delusions of grandeur. Nor am I motivated by the simple joys of dominating other people. Letting them cower in submission as I madly stab at the canvas, laughing hoarsely and flinging my monocle at my assistant. All the while the critics will sing my praises. Women will want to sleep with me. Men will want to be me and some men will want to be in me. Monkeys will gaze at my grandness and wish they too had been blessed with a higher rank on the evolutionary scale. Not that I've given this much thought or anything. My point being, no one seems to have any damn idea what they are doing anymore. Didn't people used to have a higher purpose in life? Some sort of end goal they were striding towards? A glistening, bright future they pinned their hopes on? It just seems like everyone is adrift on the open sea these days. No point of reference, no horizon, no hope in their heart. Just being tossed about by wave after wave. Mercilessly at the whim of forces they cannot quite grasp. The forces of pointlessness. You don't have any more freedoms today than your great grandparents had. In fact, you might very well have fewer. That you can choose from fifteen different types of fussili pasta, twenty-three variations of toothpaste and four sorts of oranges (I counted all of these at one of those huge mega-stores) means absolutely nothing. These alternatives are all superficial, they only give you the illusion of choice. What real difference would it have made in my life if I had bought apples instead of oranges? Absolutely fuck all. You can in fact compare apples to oranges, believe it or not. It's just fruit. Individualism clearly has merits. The idea of self-determination without compulsion is one any non-cretin must cherish. It is not without its flaws though. Most people are ignorant. A very large portion of them are also dumb. Couple this with democratic governance and you'll see that some rather interesting patterns will begin to emerge. If everyone agrees to live in a community but then only look out for their own self-interests things will go awry. Of course, this is all very entertaining to a sick individual such as myself but it's not very productive. Pretty soon you'll have a government whose only job is to balance the fucking budget and keep the shit at shoe level. And people will think that's just awesome! 'Cause things are going so well now that we are finally free. Free from commitment of any kind, that is. To be free is not just to be without hardship. We have come to expect much from society, while contributing little. We carry a sense of entitlement so grossly out of proportion to our actual importance it's staggering. If you died tomorrow what would the world be like? Sure your mother would cry a little (maybe not as much as you'd expect or like) and that's pretty much it. She has to get on with her life, get on with the shopping. Forwards is the direction that indicates purpose. Don't ya know? This entire movement towards hyper-individualism has been touted as the solution to all of our personal problems. If you only concentrate on yourself and look no further than your own feelings everything will be alright. Well, people have been doing this for over 50 years now. Are we any more happy today? Hardly. Everyone seems confused and bewildered. We have become isolated, lonely and afraid. No matter how secure and centered we are. No matter how stoic in our outlook. No matter how free we are. We all want to belong, to something. I do not really believe in destiny. It always seems to lead you down the same path towards some sort of spooky space-god. Wanting to believe that a semi-benevolent dictator is behind the scenes of this macabre little puppet show we call life is a frightening thought. But if the only destiny we have is that which we make for ourselves, what exactly is it that we have made? Pointless consumerism, selfishness as a sacrament, meaningless sexual encounters and reality-TV? If that's all we can come up with I say: Bring back manifest destiny and tell it to stay away from the indigenous people if possible. Was anything better "in the good old days"? Almost definietly not. Maybe...