The role of a critic

Are you critical?

I hope so. Being a critic means you have an opinion. And having an opinion means you know what you like and don’t like. Which is pretty important in this day and age of myriad choice.

If you have strong — accurate — opinions, like Siskel & Ebert, you can actually build a reputation on your likes and dislikes. Siskel & Ebert never made a movie, they weren’t formally trained in film or screenwriting, they really had no more credentials in judging film than you or I. But, they had a venue and a voice and they were, well, critical. Not negative, mind you, by this I mean they could critique a film and summarize the good and bad of them in a way that made sense to you and I.

I take this to infer that one doesn’t need a graduate degree in some entertainment medium to provide a critique. It helps if you can explain why you do or don’t like something in a film, show, or novel. But, you don’t need formal training to have an opinion, an accurate valid opinion. Siskel & Ebert proved this.

I point this out so that the next time someone asks you what you think about X, Y or Z movie, TV show or NYTimes bestseller, you can feel confident in giving your honest forthright opinion on said media.

Additionally, and more to the point, the next time a friend or family member asks you to critique some work of theirs don’t placate them. Encourage them, of course; if they create something — whatever it might be — support their creativity. But don’t negate your opinion by burying your true thoughts on their effort. That would be worse that lying. They’re looking to you for your Siskel & Ebert opinion. So, give it to them.

Too often, friends and family members, who beta read or beta watch a creative piece produced by an author or videographer, lie, thinking they are being “nice” by protecting the creator’s emotional state: “She tried SO hard, I couldn’t tell her what I really thought.” Don’t do them this disservice. They really, really want your honest opinion. Only an honest opinion will help them progress.

Let ’em have it. Thumbs up or thumbs down.

(Substantiated of course, but be brutal, really.)



4 thoughts on “The role of a critic

  1. I’m a painter. And I write stories and poetry. So, I have had some critics and critiques. My mom, for example, usually gets the first read of a story or look at a painting. I know you may think “She’s your mom. Positive affirmation and no much else” right? Well, she’s probably my best critic mostly because she is honest. I can see it in her face and mannerisms. If she thinks a painting is trash, no, she doesn’t say, “No, Rob, that’s trash. Try again!” But she doesn’t pull punches. I’m very blessed. With writing as well, it’s the same.

    I don’t have the guts for creative critique. Not that I don’t have an opinion. But I don’t want to run a person over. I think there is a way to present your critique. Definitely as was said, be supportive foremost. But you can have an opinion, without running someone over with “you’re wrong and here’s why”. I don’t think he meant be quite that brutal.

    Now, I can write you a critique lol, sure. That’s craft-able. And edit-able. And I can see what I’m saying before I press enter versus things flying out of my mouth in a strange, unintended tone. But, yes, someone’s creative venture – I know what that’s about. It usually has a lot of that person’s heart into or behind it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m a bit confused. Are you saying you’ve been thinking about how being an honest critic is important to creators of content?
    Or that the way I presented the concept is stating a counter-argument in a fashion that disagrees with the social norms?

    Was I saying someone was wrong and then giving examples? I suppose I was regarding those people who fail to express their true opinions to friends and family members who are looking for their honest guidance.

    Otherwise, parallel statements to opening statements — I’m not following.


  3. You know I’ve been thinking about this. I think that to enter into a discussion and to express disagreement is fundamentally a way of saying, I know more than you do. I never used to think that way myself, but I think that that’s how lots of people see the world. And in a sense, it is. If you just want to say something, you say it parallel to the opening statement, you don’t say, “you’re wrong and here’s why”. Just a thought.

    Liked by 1 person

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