“Do Professional Critics Matter Anymore?”

From a column “This Column Stinks! Everyone’s a Critic, All the Time” by Jason Gay in the Wall Street Journal:

This is the comments-section generation: You’re all free to climb aboard this column and rate it an artful work of genius or, more likely, the dopiest thing you’ve ever read. Half of social media is people blubbering on about television shows and sandwiches. There’s no barrier to entry, no expertise required, to opine on everything, all the time, like your Uncle Nick at Thanksgiving.

We’re supposed to see this as good news—the democratization of criticism. Somebody’s always weighing in provocatively: Do professional critics matter anymore? I think so. I still want to hear what a legend like The Journal’s Joe Morgenstern thinks of “The Irishman,” because Joe has seen 150,000 more movies than I have. Joe’s got a Pulitzer and used to walk dogs by Central Park with Pauline Kael. That’s good enough for me.

As for the reviews of everyday life, my philosophy is that criticism is best when it’s directly offered, with empathy. It’s OK to pass on the coldblooded email surveys from the algorithms. If the plane trip was great, tell the actual humans, the flight attendants and the pilots, on the way out. Ditto for the taxi and the hotel. Be a generous tipper; nobody likes a cheapskate. After all, in 2019, everybody you are reviewing is reviewing you too. And you should hear what they have to say.

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