Tuesday, May 4, 2010

My Two Cents: Criticism

So I’m browsing the Escapist forums, watching reruns of Zero Punctuation because I have no inspiration and no life at the moment, and this topic pops up on the little forum sidebar with the subject, “Pratchett Attacks Doctor Who.” Pratchett of course being Terry Pratchett, beloved British author of speculative fiction, creator of Discworld and co-author of one of my favorite books (Good Omens, if you somehow missed that note.) His alleged attack: a criticism that basically said the Doctor is a dues ex machina that the writers use to get away with illogical things that they just shouldn’t be able to get away with in science fiction.

Now, I am not very familiar with Doctor Who; but it does remind me of the drive home from A-Kon last year, when my best friend – who is a moderate Twilight fan, much to my chagrin – got very mad about Stephen King going on the record to say that Stephanie Meyer was a bad writer. Putting aside my own personal feelings about the writing quality, I have to admit this annoyed me, because this assumption always annoys me. Why is it that people who create things are somehow not allowed to comment poorly on other people who create things?

I mean, they’re people. They have opinions just like everyone else and the law in most modern countries gives them the freedom to express that opinion. And when you think about it, they’re in the best position to criticize. Whether you like his work or not (I find him dreadfully boring myself) Stephen King is one of the upmost authorities on writing popular paranormal fiction. Even if he’s not familiar with YA, he’s more than qualified to comment on the writing talents of fellow Stephanie Meyer.

My friend’s argument was that, as someone who has a significant amount of clout in the publishing industry, King should be held to a higher standard than to say things that could damage another author’s career. But you know, if you’re going to go into a creative field, your work has got to stand up to criticism. Because people are going to criticize it, they will criticize the hell out of it. If your work is any good at all, it will stand in spite of any attacks – and for the record, that goes for if your work happens to be, in itself, a criticism of something. I’m looking at you, meta-writers of the internet.

EDIT: I guess what I mean by that, since I know this is kind of confusing, is that criticism should not be criticized just becasue it is criticism. It will be criticized, but it should be because of flaws in the critic's argument, not just because it's pointing out the flaws in something else.

And yes, for the record, I consider calling something "an attack" because it's expressing a negetive opinion to be criticizing criticism for being criticism. Going in to more detail on that fall into the same category of "complaining about people scarificing proper word choice for manipulative emotional impact" as my rants on the difference between misogyny and sexism.

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