Criticism – Know Thyself

Reviewing a book or a movie or an album is inherently subjective. The best reviewers (and review readers) have always known this. There are no ways to quantify so much of what makes good art, or even good pop trash. The best music journalists, from Lester Bangs to Dom Lawson, have made their tastes and personalities part of their reviewing process.

My answer is based on New Journalism principles, to embrace my subjectivity and make it a part of my writing. The reader is reviewing the reviewer – Are my tastes similar? Can I trust this guy? Eventually I may be able to get you to give a chance to something you may not have, or let learn to like something that might have normally turned you off. Thus we build a network of connected art and media with each individual as a unique hub. This is the function of reviewing.

Every review I write will only examine two factors:

  1. Does [subject] creatively achieve what the creator intended it to achieve? /5
  2. Did [subject] fulfil my expectations as a consumer? /5
  3. Overall /10

It is unfair to compare masterpiece by a great novelist with a collection of articles. It is unfair to compare a multi-million dollar game with a rebooted retro classic. It is unfair to compare an album that is the high watermark of a musician with a collection of rarities. The intention behind a work factors into its authenticity.

I include the second factor as a recognition of intertextuality and subjectivity. The process of reading creatively engages the reader and the writer in symbiosis. Expectations from a fan will be different from those of first-timers. First impressions last, but a deep engagement with the work of an artist often takes place across several works, often from very different parts of an artists life, to tell a rich and multi-layered story.

If you can think of any factors not covered by these two criteria I would love to try to integrate them, because the subjectivity of reviewing renders it almost useless unless you are familiar with the reviewer.

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