Critic’s Role

By Claire Barron

A critic is a person who is trusted by the readers. They are a person who one looks to for opinions that they can believe and make decisions based on. They are experts. And they are journalists in a different way than others are.

The role of the critic is to use all of their senses, their past knowledge, their own experiences and their personal thoughts and feelings and turns in into a piece of writing that the reader can understand and relate to in some way. They have to balance having an open mind with having their own preferences and opinions on things. The critic has to take into account everything that went into what they are reviewing and consider each aspect and how it impacted their overall opinion of what they are reviewing.

The role of the critic is to be the ultimate observer and notice everything that an average person would not, while still putting themselves in the shoes of this average person. Whether they are reviewing a movie, a book, a restaurant, a concert or anything else, a critic must use all the senses necessary to make the best judgment on what they are reviewing.

A critic must be qualified. They must know that the people who are reading what they are writing are relying on them. They must serve the public with their knowledge, opinions and thoughts.

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Kyle’s take:

What’s the point? In the age of the internet, we have such easy access to media and anyone from the peanut gallery can post a review on Netflix or Amazon. What makes a critics opinion better than everyone else’s? Well, the fact is that it’s not better. Oftentimes, critics are judging something that really comes down to personal taste – movies, books, music, and food (quite literally taste).  What critics provide the audience is more than a stated opinion.

A good critic not only states that whether or not the movie or meal was bad simply because, “It was awful.” They will provide you with evidence and information that takes more than just a quick sampling of the subject. Even if it is a topic they are not familiar with, the critic will (or, rather, should) do their homework so that they can make some insightful points as to why it was better or worse.

The art of good criticism goes beyond forming an opinion or judgment. It requires thoughtful observation and an ability to defend that opinion with evidence and wit. All of this being said, there are some very good criticisms found in the bowels of comments and reviews on Yelp and Google, but these are few and far between. The role of the critic is to consistently provide their audience with trustworthy information and well-argued opinions.

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Critic’s Manifesto by Amanda Dickey:

Critics bring their background, past experience, knowledge and expertise of a subject to the table to share with a general public audience. These connoisseurs provide an informed c ontext for others who are curious about a certain topic — be it art, music, performance, film, or dining, to name just a few. They impart their interpretation of an experience using their personal beliefs and opinions to mold a clear context. This enables others to judge whether an experience is worth the time and effort to pursue based upon their own personal beliefs and tastes.

Amanda Dickey at Granite Room Gallery

Amanda Dickey at Granite Room Gallery

Critics are experts in their field. This enables them to have an informed opinion, which is helpful to those who are unsure of what to make of an experience. Critics should be able to speak to both audiences – those who have not yet had the experience, and those who have already had the experience but want to know more about what they just saw, read, tasted or heard.

In journalism school, we are taught to be as objective as possible – stating the facts without throwing in our opinion or biases. A critic does the opposite: while they may include facts and quotes, they have a duty to interject their opinion based on their qualifications and expertise. They have an important role to play as they illuminate subtle aspects of an experience that an untrained eye might easily miss.

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Role of the Critic by Parys Grigsby

I am a critic and my job is simple: shield you from the awful, welcome you to partake in the wonderful and inform you of everything in between. I am the first line of defense between you and a mind boggling world of great books, not-so-great beauty products and anything else worth talking about. I understand you and what you like because I am like you.

I rant about WalMart. I turn to mush over a great cartoon. I gush over new hair products. And I love a great book. I’m am here to share all of those things with you. Without the million dollar words. Without the pomp and circumstance. Without the fluff that separates you from the critics that live in a world separate from yours.

I am here to be aware of what the world offers, critique those choices and narrow them down for you. I’m the voice of reason; your best friend in your mind quietly whispering loudly yelling, “That product will make you look as if you’ve powdered your face with the finest all purpose flour. Trust me. I know from experience.”

I’m not classically trained in the finest french cuisine nor am I allowed the opportunity to rub elbows with the rich, famous elite. But, I have lived a life like yours. A life of normalcy. A life filled with the mundane. A life in which the amazing comes every once in a while and if you blink you’ll miss it.

My job is not to blink.

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