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Post By
Late Great Donald Blake

Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 7,358
In Reply To

Member Since: Fri Jul 14, 2017
Subj: Yes, I agree, fans have a right to criticize whatever they like.
Posted: Fri Jan 07, 2022 at 08:15:12 pm EST (Viewed 83 times)
Reply Subj: Consumers utilize things they like, and can criticize the product, despite not being able to build those products
Posted: Fri Jan 07, 2022 at 04:02:08 pm EST (Viewed 180 times)

Previous Post

Critics, the same thing.

As a user of a product, I certainly have the right to criticize that product and why I don't like it, even if I can't make that product.

If Ford builds another Pinto, and my car won't stay at highway speeds going uphill on the interstate, or the brakes tend to fail, or handling sucks, I can criticize the hell out of it because it isn't giving me what I want/need out of it, and I can say there are design flaws or things that were missed....and I don't need to be an automotive engineer, mechanic, or racecar driver to do so.

If I am a consumer of literature, fiction, or art, I can certainly express why I think that result is flawed. If everything from that 'artist' seems to fall into that category, then I may decide that they are not a good writer. And that IS ok. There are plenty of published and working people in every field who aren't very good at their jobs, but manage to keep working on an ongoing basis through good networking, potential, or being in the right place at the right time.

Other people may note that a 'writer' has amazing dialog, or that they can write prose as well as anyone, but suck at story resolution, or at cohesiveness.

I also agree that well thought out arguments that are constructed and presented more clearly are helpful i.e. define what the criteria for 'good writing' is, and why they violate, but most literary criticism doesn't follow that approach, and this isn't exactly a peer reviewed journal either. If anything, it is more editorial than anything.

Personally, in this discussion, I have no idea. I haven't read the stuff, and may eventually do so, but I am SO frustrated with the status of the MU as a whole that I barely read anything new. That is because in a shared universe, I have high expectations in terms of internal consistency that get more and more poorly executed over time, but that is a LONG criticism that I won't go into here.

The idea that someone cannot look at data, product, or whatever and draw reasonable conclusions or criticisms based on that information because 'they can't do it' or 'they haven't lived it' is ridiculous to me. If anything, it may (or may not, or be situational) allow for a more unbiased, non emotional evaluation.

Of course they do. My point wasn't that you if you don't know how to do something, you don't have a right to complain about it. My point is that not liking a thing despite using it a lot or consuming it a lot and having certain expectations or demands isn't itself a kind of expertise or credential. It doesn't qualify you to pontificate on it with any authority or expertise. This was just in the context of if you're not going to present a coherent, well constructed argument with evidence, what's the point of just declaring things poorly written or very bad?

Of course I think anybody should feel free to express their opinion and give their reasons why. My contention has been whether or not we're being purely subjective when we say something is poorly written. Ultimately I think a good argument trumps credential, but I should also say this was kind of an aside anyway from the larger argument. Here I was talking about that let's face it the vast majority of critics online or otherwise are incapable of doing the thing they're criticizing, and most of them aren't actually making robust arguments and most of them don't know the first thing about the first thing.

Now that's a descriptive claim. I'm not saying it's true of a necessity, as in NO critic of writing who doesn't write understands writing. And it's certainly not a normative claim: by no means am I saying that if you aren't a writer you shouldn't criticize. I'm saying it so happens that most don't understand writing: they're very rarely asked to submit their own writing to anyone, and they're rarely asked to demonstrate their understanding or justify their claims.
And my sociological account for that is that because criticism, from internet anonymity to the Entertainment section of the New York Times have profoundly low standards. But again, this isn't to be conflated with my argument that in particular Norvell but many others mask their own preferences and subjective impressions as nonarbitrary principles of writing. Though obviously you can find a few points of connection there.

As to what the standards for an argument are, I agree I think most of the time it isn't necessary to be rigorous or discerning in a message board message. But I think sometimes it is appropriate, and not being willing to do so is maybe a sign you're not arguing totally in good faith.

--- the late great Donald Blake

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