Thursday, 15 July 2010

Actually, your opinion probably is worthless.

We've come to that time of the year again. The one where old favourites are ending, and glorious newcomers are just starting their runs. Yes, I am naturally talking about television. There's something to be said for television of the past. While it may not have had the twitter-helped IT Crowd, or the glory of eighties nostalgia like Ashes to Ashes, it did have a distinct lack of amateur Internet criticism. This is perhaps the most cardinal sin of the modern television experience. Our hubris in these situations is remonstrably awful. It is a simple truth: Everything exists to be rubbished by someone on the 'net.
But what astounds me most is our willingness to claim we know better. Now, I must point out here that I'm using 'we' in the sense of society. I don't attest to Internet rubbishing. I find it to be much akin to doing porn: I'm sure it might but fun, but no one wants to see the finished product unless you actually have something to offer. Our most recent show of hubris though seems to be our belief that it is within the bounds of fair criticism to start talking about what we think should have happened. Don't get me wrong. I think the Internet is a wonderful new media tool that needs to carefully scrutinised for the myriad possibilities it opens up in the realm of producer-viewer relations, but I don't think for a minute we've reached that glorious position where anything proceeded by the words 'I think it would have been better if..." has anything but the sound of a petulant child crying because he wanted 100 chocolate chips exactly in his already over sized and quite delicious biscuit, not 98. This is sheer fanwankery and is about as helpful as standing outside a movie theater saying to anyone who goes in not to see a film because "I really enjoyed it, but it needed one more scene where X tells Y about Z, which I'm sure would have been fantastic because A is a fantastic writer." I'm sure it would have. Unless, however, Z happens to be utterly vital to the plot, to understanding the plot, to the very nature of the piece being at all "good", then it is the height of subjective criticism. One cannot criticise could-have-beens and praise the never-was' because they are exactly what they say on the tin - not what happened. The only time this stuff belongs in a review is when it is a clear omission of something vital. There is no logic to starting a bad review with "I really enjoyed this" and then basing your argument around stuff that doesn't exist.

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