Sometimes you read something by a member of the MSM that is just so elitist, someone whose arrogance is so amazing, that it is hard to believe it was written by a member of a democratic society.
We MSM watchdogs love to poke our fingers in the eyes of the homogeneously leftist, elitists in the media establishment assailing them for their pervasive assumptions of their own superiority. We don’t often, however, get to see them come right out and say that they truly do think they are better and smarter then the rest of us mere commoners. Usually they are sly enough not to show their arrogance so obviously, leaving it unsaid but broadly hinted at. But, once in a while their egos get the better of them and they let that upturned nose snort just enough at the rest of us to let us know where our “place” in life is.
This is one of those times. Enter the L. A. Times’ Richard Schickel to tell bloggers that they just don’t “bring anything to the party” where it concerns opinion, social criticism and reviews. Schickel is sniffing at all the uneducated, boobs who dare to imagine they have the moral right to write and publish their views on the internet for all interested parties to peruse. How DARE those lowly bloggers encroach on what Shcickel feels is the job of a cultural elite who’s right it obviously is to publish opinion and shape our culture.
In “Not everybody’s a critic”, Schickel’s impertinence about how stupid bloggers, and by extension the common American, really are reaches a height that is just short of Olbermanesque with its shrillness. After relating how the “most grating words” he’s read lately in a newspaper were those praising the plethora of bloggers who review books and post their opinions and social criticisms on the web, Schickel lays it on the line.
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, ideally undertaken by individuals who bring something to the party beyond their hasty, instinctive opinions of a book (or any other cultural object). It is work that requires disciplined taste, historical and theoretical knowledge and a fairly deep sense of the author's (or filmmaker's or painter's) entire body of work, among other qualities.
Amusingly, Schickel goes on to sternly remind us that the “best criticism” is that “conveyed without a judgmental word being spoken”, amusing for the simple fact that our erstwhile critic seems to have cast that good advice to the four winds in his own criticism of the blogosphere. The phrase “physician, heal thyself” comes so immediately to mind
So, in the spirit of Schickel’s admonition not to say any “judgmental words”, I think I’ll let him do a little of it for me. The following will be a listing of some more of the “non-judgmental words” that Schickel unleashes like a shotgun blast at his hated, uneducated internet masses:
* Most reviewing, whether written for print or the blogosphere, is hack work…
* Your publisher kindly forwards the clippings, and you are appalled by the sheer uselessness of their spray-painted opinions.
* I do think, however, that a simple "love" of reading (or movie-going or whatever) is an insufficient qualification for the job.
* Inevitably, blogging was presented as an attractive alternative — it doesn't take much time, and it is a method of publicly expressing oneself (like finger-painting, I thought to myself, but never mind).
How simply nonjudgmental of you, Mr. Schickel. Bravo. Our cultural snob also decries the unseemly “democratic” nature of the internet a place where every “car parts” employee can write a review.
…a purely "democratic literary landscape" is truly a wasteland, without standards, without maps, without oases of intelligence or delight.
Gosh, we is all juss so stoopit. And now let us see what our kindly Mr. Schickel imagines might be the importance of his own handiwork:
The act of writing for print, with its implication of permanence, concentrates the mind most wonderfully. 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 just love it when these people imagine only their work rises to the level of “logically reasoned discourse” and only their efforts rate “inviting serious engagement”. All I can say is that we Americans cast off the idea of the divine right of Kings and the controlling, elite classes that accompanies a Royal Court several hundred years ago. Unfortunately, there is a class of American who imagines that they sit above the floatsam and jetsam of their fellows, a class of cultural elitists who feel they have a divine right to guide the lower classes by the nose for their own good, a right born not of any royal lineage but one spawned instead from their own self-proclaimed superior intelligence.
And we nit wit bloggers should just shut up and let them tell us what to think. Not that I will be inclined to “convey” any “judgmental word” for Mr. Schickel’s beau ideal for cultural criticism. After all, it would be wonderful if I, too, could be considered a member of the superior classes.