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Monday, December 05, 2016

Everybody's a Critic

One of the side effects of the Internet has unfortunately been the provision of a forum for the proverbial "experts who can't do anything." It is said that those who can do, those who can't teach and those who can't teach become critics.  I think I may have been the one who said that.

In any case, with the rise of the "comment" thread it seems everyone or at least most everyone, has taken it upon him or herself to lay into every book, movie, song, restaurant, sports team, or work of art, act of Congress or noble endeavor that goes on. Used to be it was a rare thing to find fault with something artistic much beyond, whether we liked it or didn't like it. Now, with the free and unfettered forum provided by the Internet, we all seem to need to get a lick in at everything in sight.

It's kind of sad because people that never actually make anything beautiful or pleasant or fun, have taken up positions in the digital duck blind and make themselves feel important by taking pot shots at anyone who dares to make the effort to actually do something or make something. We're fast becoming a nation of grouchy old critics - Waldorf and Statler sitting in life's bleachers making smug snide comments at everything.

It's sad really because taking on the job of critic makes you feel like you ought to say something critical about a thing if you review it. I've tried doing reviews on Amazon. I always feel a little guilty because I don't find a lot of fault. I do a lot of first novel reviews for fellow authors and the usually get five stars and an attaboy. I know how it feels to get 3 stars or to have people find fault with what you do and I can't seem to muster the courage to poke holes in what I know was somebody's labor of love. It seems a pretty rotten thing to do. I try to be honest, but to focus on what I liked about something.

What brought all this on was I watched a Christmasey movie of Disney's. It was a kids movie and I found the animation and the songs and the story just amazing. Commenters at the space below the movie on the Internet, however, lined up to find fault with the movie. Some were understandably sick of hearing the "Let it Go" song, but the reason they were sick of it was because everybody was singing it and it gets stuck in your head because the song is so well done. Retroactively hammering the movie won't make your kids love the movie or the song any less and you're still going to have to listen to your little princess sing it over and over and over again.

When they went after "Tangled" which is one of my more recent Disney favorites, they done stepped over the line. It was a lovely movie with an upbeat ending. Some dim bulb went on and on about how disappointed she was that it wasn't "darker".  That's all we need in this world - to show our kids sad and depressive movies. The world is plenty dark without post-modernist cartoons putting our kids on Prozac. 

A critic the other day criticized the movie, "Hacksaw Ridge" for not inventing a scene where Desmond Doss had to choose to let someone die because he refused to pick up a gun. Even though the movie is closely based on a true story and that scene never happened. Another critic claimed some of the story was unbelievable even though Doss actually kicked a grenade away from fellow soldiers and was permanently disabled because of it. The critic wanted the actual story fixed to better suit his worldview in essence instead of allowing the story to be told as it was - reality not being good enough for Hollywood and all. It left certain questions unanswered for the critic. So when did life have to answer all your questions, man? Get used to it. Life does what it wants to you. You write your own story from life as it smacks you in the face. And it's never the story you thought it would be in the beginning of it.

I think those of us who are members of the Internet generation should spend a little more time in the real world. We should examine our values and our ethics and decide whether or not we believe the whole Golden Rule thing as a way of life. kid about blaming Disney for our current generation that seems to think everything can be solved by magic and to some extent, Disney's magical fairy tales have contributed to that to some extent. I really blame parents who don't take the time to talk about movies and TV shows that their kids see. If you raise a child by setting him in front of a TV set all day, you shouldn't be surprised if they develop a somewhat distorted outlook on life. You also have to take them out in the woods, go camping, hiking, take them fishing or canoeing or to visit museums, historical sites and do things together if you want a kid to view life realistically and not as some contrived story.

And perhaps instead of picking and fault-finding with the hard work of others, we should look for what we like about that work and not only encourage authors, artists, and craftsmen to give us more of what we enjoyed about their work, but we should also go out and do a little creating on our own. We are, after all, created in God's image. We are born creative. It is how we are like him. I really believe God made us because He wanted to see what we would come up with. I think God wanted children who could make Him smile.

So maybe let's lighten up on being critics. It's more fun simply diving into the amazingly creative things God's children have made and simply enjoying it for what it is. It's what our Father would have us do.

© 2016 by Tom King

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