Sunday, May 20, 2007

Richard Schickel: Criticism Is For Elites, Not Bloggers

Film critic Richard Schickel of Time magazine has written a piece for the L.A. Times disdaining bloggers, in particular criticism written by bloggers. He drips with condescension:

"Let me put this bluntly, in language even a busy blogger can understand: Criticism — and its humble cousin, reviewing — is not a democratic activity. It is, or should be, an elite enterprise..."

"I don't think it's impossible for bloggers to write intelligent reviews. I do think, however, that a simple 'love' of reading (or movie-going or whatever) is an insufficient qualification for the job..."

"...they need to prove, not merely assert, their right to an opinion."

If you can stomach reading the entire piece, by the end Schickel compares blogging to "finger-painting." Then he describes the glory of "writing for print": "It imposes on writer and reader a sense of responsibility that mere yammering does not. It is the difference between cocktail-party chat and logically reasoned discourse that sits still on a page, inviting serious engagement."

I find it ironic that a man who insists on proving one's "credentials" did the worst DVD commentary track I've heard to date (THE MARK OF ZORRO).

So much for credentials. Not that this criticism matters, coming from a lowly blogger. :)


Blogger J.C. Loophole said...

It's my fault Laura. Richard's probably upset at our review of his recent "documentary" on Cannes that we did at the Shelf last week:

We were encouraging, but had some harsh criticism for him. We didn't mean to be so hard on him. We felt that since he was a critic he could take it. I guess we're off the Christmas card list. (Do elites send "Holiday" cards? Or is that too taxing on the environment? Leo would not approve.)

Oh...wait. That would mean that Richard actually reads blogs. And that's something we all know that "elites" like Richard just don't do. Sorry, Richard. Sorry to have elevated my importance.

Of course, by apologizing on a comments thread on a blog would imply...oh, never mind.

6:03 AM  
Blogger jau said...

He must be incredibly insecure. He could have shouted high and wide that many blogs display the intelligence and articulate perception of a far greater number of people than anyone even remotely suspected. But no, he'd rather deride us as if we're kids trying to mingle with the grown-ups, and send us to our rooms. I guess his own intelligence and perception are far less than anyone thought. Shickel scmickel.

6:59 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

LOL, J.C.! Love it. I went back and reread your post today in light of Schickel's piece.

Is Schickel the same person from TIME you quoted as saying "The first thing someone from the OUTSIDE should know about Cannes is they're not invited"? If so, sounds like Schickel really treasures his "exclusive role" in more ways than one.

I agree with you, Anne, this article comes across as someone very insecure, desperately trying to remind himself how important he is. I think my ultimate feeling about him, after reading the article, was pity. Which I doubt is what he intended!

Best wishes,

10:27 AM  
Blogger J.C. Loophole said...

The critic from Time was not Schickel. Of course, Schickel made sure the comment was included. Now that I think about it, there were much more critics in that film, than anyone else. I thought it strange that very few of the organizers or crew, and even a select few film makers were actually included in the film. At the time, I couldn't put my finger on why. Now I know. The biggest sentiment that most of the critics expressed was disdain over the fact that critics were no longer included on Juries.
As an aside, I am happy to see our oft-worn phrase at the Shelf: "cultural elites", has more common usage now (saw it in several articles regarding Richard's pouting). Maybe soon I won't have to keep explaining what it means.

11:36 AM  
Blogger Wolf Flywheel said...

I believe I was quoting Richard Corliss of TIME magazine in our post about Cannes. He works with Richard Shickel in what I expect is some sort of 'Tweetle Dee / Tweetle Dum' type of arrangement. They confuse all who experience them with their pointless banter and useless comments which lull the thinker into a listless mode keeping you captive as they feel they are what should be adored and praised. Of course us silly bloggers can see past the facade of elitism and make our own decisions which sometimes take us to our goal of finding ,like Alice, that rabbit we are always searching for. The rabbit is success and acclaim for some and personal satisfaction for others. Whatever our goal, Shickel and Corliss are not pleased with our seeking it because it deems them to be irrelevant and walks them closer to their own extinction. Did that qualify as "inviting serious engagement" for ya' Richard?

1:12 PM  
Blogger Dana said...

Laura, when I first read Richard Schickels's bit in LAT, I assumed it was an uneven bit of tongue in cheek could it not be? Surely no one could be so arrogant and admit to it publicly.

Randomshelf guys, I always enjoy visiting your site, good stuff....just think, someday you might grow up to become 'very serious' film reviewers just like Schickel!

7:32 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Wolf, very interesting about Corliss. Thanks for filling me in. He and Schickel seem like quite a pair! I think you're right, the world and communication is changing and Schickel, like others in the old media, wants it all to stop and go away.

Dana, the piece does read rather like something from the Onion, doesn't it? It's so over the top you expect a "Just kidding!" in the next paragraph. :)

Thanks for all the interesting feedback on this, everyone! I put Schickel's name in Google Blog Search earlier today and it appears this isn't the first time he's engaged in one of these rants. I'm afraid he keeps shrinking smaller in my estimation...

Best wishes,

9:15 PM  

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