By Dom Serafini
I’ve just come to realize that critics in general are an annoying bunch of individuals. Mostly because it’s difficult to understand them. The worst are food critics, followed by art critics, music critics, theater critics (often called “drama” critics) and film critics. Television critics are somewhat more sane and comprehensible, while book critics are sort of touch ’n go, meaning inconsistent. At a higher level than book critics are the “literary” critics, topped by “textual” critics, who, for some strange reason, are called “lower” critics, just to let you know how insane the whole sector is.
We also have “cultural” critics and “social” critics. While the difference isn’t clear, the view is that the former are usually radicals.
Of the food critics, the absolute worst are the wine critics. Never, ever buy something that they recommend. It will end up being a very expensive, undrinkable bottle.
As a rule, I never follow critics’ restaurant choices either, except to gauge the price-range. In that respect, they tend to be 55.7 percent (my estimate) accurate.
I don’t understand how a person can possibly salivate over ingredients that overpower a simple steak. Where food is concerned, for me, the simpler the better…and tastier!
In general, this maxim is valid for most cooks — pardon, chefs — I know as well, but once these culinary artists are in front of the TV cameras, they seem to aim more to food critics than food connoisseurs, meaning those who appreciate the presentation and/or the architect who designed the dining room more than the taste and aroma of the food.
Among the art critics who cause agita are those who follow modern art, particularly paintings, and do “critiques.” It is as if they know exactly what the artists were thinking or doing when, most likely, those poor artists themselves didn’t have a clue, but had instead a great art dealer or a famous art gallery exhibit or simply a good agent.
Fuggedabout those who write about dance! They see things that aren’t even there! Motion for them is all that matters, which for me is like describing the hole part of a Dunkin’ donut (i.e., basically air).
Of the film critics, most tolerable are those found in print, because those who vent their frustration on air (radio stations in particular) have usually seen another movie with the same title. Much better are those called “film reviewers,” bless them.
So far, it can be honestly said that I never liked a movie recommended by a critic. Conversely, those panned by critics have been winners with myself as well as the public in general. As English playwright/actor/director/singer Noel Coward said, “I love criticism, just as long as it’s unqualified.”
It is typical of film critics to describe scenes and explain to the movie directors what they were thinking while filming them. It’s totally amusing when film critics make particular scenes out as having come from some sort of well planned Michelangelo masterpiece when, indeed, as we often discover later, they were purely flukes.
And I’m not the only one to diss critics. As actor Eli Wallach is quoted as saying, “Having the critics praise you is like having the hangman say you’ve got a pretty neck.” Curiously, NY Times movie critic A. O. Scott is the grandnephew of Eli Wallach. On the other hand, NY Times film critic Manohla Dargis, understands something that we all know: “The only thing Hollywood is interested in [is] money, and after that prestige.”
Tim Appelo, editorial director of Seattle’s City Arts magazine and a former video critic at Entertainment Weekly (EW), who has written cultural criticism for the L.A. Times, the Washington Post and the N.Y. Times, complained in EW that film/TV critics are not themselves criticized. However, in a 2001 book It’s only a movie, college professor Raymond J. Haberski, Jr. wrote about the “declining influence of movie critics in American society.”
In conclusion, as American writer Dale Carnegie apparently said, “Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain…and most fools do.”