Monday, January 26, 2015

Where are the Wild Killer Pigeons When You Need Them?

Roger Ebert - Professional Curmudgeon
I love the Internet, but there is one issue that I do have with it. It's not the Internet's fault. The Internet only allows it to be worse than it would be without it. Having Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and all the rest, gives us a platform from which to anonymously exercise our more unlovely tendencies to criticize our neighbors in order to make ourselves feel superior.

In the Garden of Eden, the Devil told two lies.

  • He told Eve that if she sinned, she wouldn't die.
  • He told Eve that the sin would make them like gods, knowing good and evil (as though that were a good thing).
Well, he's back at it again with a very excellent new tool we've created for ourselves - The Internet.

And it's the same lies. By giving us fancy platforms like blogs and Facebook pages, each of us is given a high castle from which to rain down criticism on the Earthlings below. No matter how big the target, be they presidents, pop singers or pastors, we can sit snug in our little fortresses and demonstrate how much smarter and better we are than others. 

On the Internet we're like little gods knowing what is good and what is stupid and telling lesser mortals what they should think about virtually everything. Also, on the Internet, we (or at least our brilliant criticisms) are immortal or as close as we can get to immortality as server technology can make us.

Because of the seductive call of Internet fame, we are fast becoming a nation of critics. We spout off constantly, making godlike pronouncements about things we know nothing about and couldn't do ourselves if we tried.

This is particularly true in the realm of art and entertainment. I've fallen in the trap myself of trashing a film or book I don't like. Why? It certainly will have little impact on anyone else. Once I realized this was going on, I tried to tone it down. These days I try to limit my criticism to things I feel are a threat to the freedom we enjoy in America and to the safety and security of our world. So, I'm stuck with politics and religion. In the arts I try to issue more positive reviews than negative ones.

As Thumper's Father said, "If you can't say something nice about someone, don't say nuthin' at all."

So, why do people feel the need to criticize movies, books, music and such. I mean the people they are trashing are people who actually made movies, books, music and such. Instead of talking endlessly about how bad everybody else's work was, they went out and by dint of hard work and effort, they created a work of art themselves and got it into the public square. If you haven't done that yourself, do you really think you have any grounds to tell other people whether it's of value or not.

I mean, what have you done lately that makes you an expert?

There's the old say about "Them that can do. Them that can't teach. Them that can't teach become critics."

Not to be critical, but this critic-written
film got a thumbs down from me.
When really good critics do try to do whatever it is they are criticising, the results are often not pretty at all. Rogert Ebert, the famous and influential movie critic, actually wrote a screenplay once - the truly awful "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls". All the critics said it was bad. The film, directed by the notorious Russ Meyer, was mostly about getting the clothes off a series of pretty starlets. Ebert never bragged about having written that film. I heard he tried to get his name taken off it as writer.

Anyway to avoid filling my brain up with unrelenting negativity, I try to avoid these sorts of snarky, nasty critical websites and TV shows that try to tell me which movies I shouldn't watch and what things I'm supposed to like and not like. I find that when I like what I like and do what I want to do without regard to what self-important stuffed shirts think, that I'm a much, much happier person.

As to critics? Well, as they say, "You can't live with 'em. Can't feed them to wild killer pigeons."

© 2014 by Tom King

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