Weekly Volcano Blogs: Walkie Talkie Blog

March 14, 2011 at 2:10pm

CARV'S BLOG OF THE WEEK: Plaudits and pans

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DO CRITICS EVEN MATTER? >>>

This weekend I saw a movie, Battle: Los Angeles, that Roger Ebert - the best movie critic who ever lived, mind you - gave half a star. "Young women," he advised, "If your date likes this movie, tell him you've been thinking it over, and you think you should consider spending some time apart." Brutal. I already had tickets, so I went anyway; but lo and behold, my date and I both liked it well enough, and our relationship is intact. I also saw two local play productions. Now, I don't have the freedom to unleash verbal hell on awful scripts, nor do I have the desire. I don't enjoy hurting people's feelings, especially those of people I'll see down the road, and I'd certainly rather not quash anyone's enthusiasm for live performance. But if I were of a mind to spew zingers, one of those plays would be the show that inspired them.

Yet there will be people who attend that play and truly enjoy it. There were probably cast and crew members who loved working on it. Don't their opinions matter just as much? Meanwhile, I heard yawns at the other show I attended, which I found much more satisfying on any number of levels. Was I wrong? The heart and mind want what they want, even for professional critics. Taste is clearly subjective. All I can hope is to persuade you that my opinion is informed by a lifetime of study and a lifelong passion for theater.

Over the last few months, things have changed for me. The volume of offense incited by my reviews has been dwindling, and people have made special efforts to tell me they appreciate my efforts and those of my colleagues. People are starting to accept that I review their work as impartially as I can, as I would have them do for mine. I still work in live performance myself, and I'm willing to accept the slings and arrows I dish out when they're deserved.

Do critics matter? Do we improve the level of anyone's work? Do we boost public interest in what's often perceived as a "dying" art? I hope so. I think so. I'm not just in this for the towers of money, believe me. I have to promise myself that for every bruised ego, there's a patron who'll be thankful for a more informed ticket purchase. I see myself as a consumer advocate, but also as a (discriminating) cheerleader for South Puget theater - which, even after a widely mixed bag of shows this weekend, I still think is some of the best I've ever seen. My taste may vary from yours, but surely we agree that when local companies focus their efforts, they hold their own with any companies anywhere. I just want to be part of the refining process.

Filed under: Arts, Screens, Tacoma, Olympia, Theater,

Comments for "CARV'S BLOG OF THE WEEK: Plaudits and pans" (1)

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chris w said on Mar. 14, 2011 at 10:32pm

Good articulation of your thoughts and feelings on the work you do, Christian.

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