Thursday, February 12, 2009

Gong... Gong...

Here is another article that pretty much hails Critic-O-Meter as a death knell for arts criticism. This time its in the venerable Columbia Journalism Review and its by David Hajdu, whose The Ten Cent Plague is sitting on my bedside table, waiting for me to be done with Infinite Jest with a plaintive look in its eye.

Since this criticism keeps coming out, I just wanted to briefly address it and say... I have no idea what the impact of Critic-O-Meter on theatre criticism is going to be. My goal was to have an impact on the reading of theatre reviews by providing a place where people could get either a snap shot or an in depth look at how people are responding to New York City theatre. So yes, it functions in part like a consumer guide. But that's not all it does. And given that readers are already reading reviews as consumer guides and reviewers are writing them as consumer guides, at least we figured we'd provide a way for them to be more informed as consumers. And it also, as I've said many times, has this other function of letting you read and hunt around more and see what people are saying.

The other thing vis-a-vis this whole Death of Criticism meme that's going around is this... Criticism isn't dying. The ability of people to make a living as critics is decreasing. The presence of critics in major newspapers is decreasing. This will probably lead to fewer people spending their time writing criticism, although in the arts themselves the decrease in opportunity hasn't. I get a distinct sense of (understandable) job-related panic reading these articles, and I wish the writers of them would more honestly and personally address those issues. I'm not belittling the importance of the press or of critics, I just feel that there's a subtext to these articles that needs to be frankly discussed instead of taken out on a startup website/blog.

And similarly my interest in talking about this is partly fueled off of my desire to have Critic-O-Meter grow into a business.

1 comment:

tarhearted said...

Please don't ever stop writing Critic-O-Meter. I read it every day.

As an Off-Off Broadway theater maker, I appreciate how it levels the playing field. After all, why should The New York Times' opinion matter more than a small blog?