We now live in the age of technology where anyone with a keyboard can publicize their thoughts and opinions to an online community. With that, however, comes a load of responsibility; responsibility that any professional critic must know and embrace thoroughly. It is one thing to criticize, but another to engage their point of view in conversation, provide prospective information and promote discussion among audience members. It is said, “A strong criticism should cause the reader to think for themselves” and this is true because it encourages readers to get more involved with the arts, to come back for more whether or not the criticism was good or bad (Chan; Huffington Post). In retrospect, it’s remarkable that technology allows us to interact on an entirely new level than ever before, but it’s important to reiterate that with power comes the responsibility to use your voice as way to strengthen the arts industry!
Many artists have taken it upon themselves to write reviews about their own work, and for critics, this writing can prove to be advantageous. Critics understand very well that they are writing for their audience members, and what better way to reach them by mirroring the language of the artists they’re reviewing? It suggests that the critic is credible because they present themselves through writing as well informed and equipped to engage the reader in conversation. Critics surely need to be talented writers, but they also need to be comfortable with shaping their voice to complement their content, while maintaining authenticity. For some, this can be tricky. Nevertheless, they are not alone, and there are websites designed to help the aspiring critic better develop their talent. For instance, Ron Burnette created an online platform with examples of his own cultural critiques (The Writing Centre). In this respect, it’s not always about competition among critics, but helping one another so to, once again, strengthen the arts industry they all work for.
As previously mentioned, there is also a responsibility to educate your audience. Daniel Mendelsohn from the New Yorker has admired critics since childhood because of their impact on him. As a young reader, he explains “by the time he [the critic] described what he’d seen on stage, you—the reader—had the background necessary to appreciate (or deprecate) the performance as he had described it. I learned about…things.” Personally, there is much credibility in this statement. If you want to learn about an art or event, read up on the people who have a world of opinion about it. Critics do their research and form an opinion so to engage you in the conversation. They don’t want to tell you what’s wrong or right, they want you to determine that with help from the critics professional insight. Ultimately, it will always be up to you, the reader, to determine your opinion; and if you can muster that and develop a commitment to the arts industry, the critic has succeeded in his efforts.