Critical opinions are just that, opinions and yet criticism of any kind is seen today as so derisive that death threats can get lobbed over liking or not liking something be it pop culture, politics or simply culture itself. The dearth of critical opinions is being eroded by the very system meant to disperse them.
I am a critic in multiple fields and in every one of those fields the analysis I bring is regarded as either attacks, pandering or (sigh) trolling. Yes, you are not allowed to break from the pack, to think for ones self lest you are trolling and simply being a contrarian for the sake of being contrary or you are at worst a hipster. That is what criticism (especially film criticism) has come to, if the majority love it, you must as well otherwise you are a troll, if the masses hate it then you are required to hate with the same level of vitriol. There is no freedom of opinion in the field of criticism, you must go with the tide of the masses, it is required by the law of man and beast alike.
Political punditry, from the Wikipedia description:
A pundit (sometimes called Talking Head) is someone who offers to mass media his or her opinion or commentary on a particular subject area (most typically political analysis, the social sciences, technology or sport) on which they are knowledgeable (or can at least appear to be knowledgeable), or considered a scholar in said area. The term has been increasingly applied to popular media personalities. In certain cases, it may be used in a derogatory manner as well, as the political equivalent of ideologue
Wow, keeping that in mind just about any critic of politics falls into this category as do I with my show What The Fuck!!??. I had one commenter tell me that they could not listen to my show anymore because I (quoting here) “managed to take shitting on the Republicans to a level even I tire of.” Wow, that is quite a statement at first glance is it not? While I do shit on the Republicans every time they do something moronic (which I will admit, with their recent track record is pretty damn often) I also shit on the Democrats when they have it coming, what I love about that quote though is he is not disputing that the Republicans are in the wrong, he is only saying I take it too far… think about that for a second, he is not mad at them for fucking this country up beyond repair or creating a divide the likes that have only been seen shortly before the Civil War… he is mad that I am calling them out for it. That says far more about the commenter then it does about me I think. But that is how political punditry works, hell how all criticism works really, the personal bias of the critic clouds or at least colors the viewpoint they espouse and that engenders either love or hate to their side of the argument. Now, this does not mean they are wrong or that the rose tint is not the truth… to them, it simply means that they are only looking at things from a specific perspective, a perspective that may or may not be greeted with dismissal or even pushback. Being a political pundit usually goes in the two most obvious directions, you support the Republicans and attack the Democrats or you support the Democrats and attack the Republicans, there are not too many actual middle of the ground pundits although, yet I like to think of myself as one of them. I honestly don’t have the least amount of love for either party but to the passing observer I would come off as a Democrat due to how many chances the Republicans give me to “shit all over them” as it were. The Republicans are out in the open dumb, the Democrats hide their dumb somewhat better but rest assured, they are just as retarded.
The arena of political pundits is a very dicey drome of combat in it’s own right and yet it seems that film critics get the most hate. That is something I have never quite been able to countenance… when people are talking about things that can actually effect you, your family and your life, you dismiss it as noise, yet movies, well that is something to delve straight into with full vigor. Of all the shows I do on Jackalope Radio the one about movies (RadioDrome) is by far the most popular and also the one *I* get the most criticism over. Yes, I get taken to task for not politics, but for movies. My views on Bush, Obama, SOPA, CISPA, police corruption, abuse of authority, NSA spying and the like are nothing it seems to how polarizing my views on Tarantino, Malick, Bay or Whedon are. I would like someone to answer that for me, why does the vast majority of the mail I get (not just hate mail, but mail in general) stem from what I say about movies? Why does my opinion on a movie even matter to you? Can you not formulate your own opinion on a film without my input or is it that you need validation for perhaps liking something you didn’t want to or hating something you thought you would love? With film criticism comes a strange badge of responsibility that one would THINK the political realm would have yet is lacking and I think I know why that is and that is… reality vs fantasy. Movies are fantasy by their very definition whereas politics are reality (overall). When I talk about, or “shit on” as it is, a political party or person I am giving my thoughts and ideals on things that happened, on arguable facts as they are presented through the media, now with movies though it comes down to %100 opinion and nothing more. So, that said, why do so many people get so bent out of shape over what I have to say about a movie? For instance the most hate filled diatribes I have received were over my viewpoints on Joss Whedon’s body of work, Quentin Tarantino’s ongoing unoriginality, how Christopher Nolan played you all for saps with his Batman movies and how Back To The Future was incredibly racist. I am not going to go into each of these again here but these got me so much hatemail and hate in general that it makes me wonder why far more important statements about the US Government or political power did not. Why does my showing you that Nolan played you effect you more than showing you how Obama played you? I have written often about how people choose to live in the (false) reality they are most comfortable in over the reality of day to day life and this is no different. You love these deeply flawed or straight out bad movies and by my pointing out (obvious) faults in these films I am thereby pointing out faults in you who love these films and then you feel you must lash out at me as if my tearing down a movie you love is the same as tearing you down. You have a symbiotic relationship with pop culture far more than politics so by this symbiotic bond you take an assault on your pop culture as an assault on your personal tastes and therefor on you. If you can’t take what I have to say, why do you ask my opinion on things then?
Criticism also comes down to credibility or lack thereof. If you have credibility then you have a basis for strong(er) opinions that border on validity yet if you have no credibility then you have nothing really (Harry Knowles selling his movie reviews to the highest bidder being an example). One of the attacks leveled at me of late is that I give out false information about the movies I speak on… yet I can source myself, but in this day and age if the source does not come up in a google search then it must (MUST!!!) be false since everything is on the internet. I can have, in my hands, a quote from a 1978 issue of Starlog Magazine which has no digital version and I will be called a liar because the quote I gave is not in google. Because THEY didn’t hear it or read it, then it HAS to be false, it just HAS to be… because they WANT me to be wrong, they have allowed their hate and their anger over those implied assaults to taint the truth for them. You can think whatever you want, no matter how factually erroneous it is, but in the end, that makes you the loser in this ordeal, not I. You see, when someone hates a source with such a pathology as this it shows the faults in them, not in the source. There are those in the field that can take personal criticism, some that can not. The subjects of the last 2 weeks worth of columns can dish it out and yet can not take it as evidenced by the columns themselves of the last weeks. I have a pretty thick skin when it comes to this stuff, all of the faggot Josh stuff and the hatemail is just fine… the only over the line ones were the penis photos sent to my house and that twitter asshole. Yes, there is a line that was crossed, lots of you think he is funny, but I have had 3 different job interviews where I have had to explain how that “person” with MY name, MY photo and MY links is not me… that is impersonation, not parody (if you think it is parody, look up that term as well as the legal definition of impersonation). Impersonation is not criticism, it is a crime, calling me a faggot is criticism and one I will fight to protect your right to do as such. So, yes I can take all you dish out in criticism… hell I just checked and joshhadleysucks.com is a dominion that is not taken yet… I wonder how long that will last…
Tell me to shut the fuck up at firstname.lastname@example.org