There’s an increasing trend amongst the writers I follow on Social media: people turn up and use the immediacy of the platform to deliver negative reviews, and it’s not going down well. This is not how books work, after all: a writer tells a story, and you accept it. By purchasing their book, you are entering into a social contract with the author. This exchange is a willing acceptance of their ability to alter your reality with an opportunity to be convinced it works. If it doesn’t, put the book down and move on. You don’t pick up a pitchfork, light a torch and then tell the writer how they should have written it, because that is not how art criticism works.
Except there’s an increasing number of people who need to attack the source material with everything they own, because it’s how they can make themselves briefly famous.
The subjectivity of enjoyment is, well… a very personal thing. I LOVE this Bond movie, but this person knew full well that if they sat and picked it to pieces, someone would be interested. If enough aggrieved individuals share the notion their favourite franchise has been ravaged? We get the whole Star Wars groupwank that appears to not want to go away, with EVERYBODY and their idiot brother deciding they know better than the people who made the movie.
No, this isn’t film criticism when you start verbally abusing stars or threatening directors. That is vandalism and verbal assault. There is no way to justify any of it, and yet by dissecting these theories ourselves, by discussing them in our own spaces, we simply keep chucking twigs on the fire. As long as something is around to burn, the conflagration never goes out, which seems to be a point many well-meaning people simply overlook in the clamour of being noticed. Your attention seeking, however passive, is still that.
There’s been a bit of a hoo-hah on Social media this week after an American decided to wade into a cave in Thailand with his own solution to a problem that was, at that point, pretty much under control. Many have suggested that this was a bit of an attention-seeking move on the philanthropist’s part, after a period of bad publicity… but undoubtedly, this man thought he was helping. The guys who are telling Disney to remake The Last Jedi are exactly the same, like it or not. Their view of the Universe is different (see yesterday) and it’s a place where people like me aren’t welcome.
That’s not the only reason why I’ve finally lost the plot with a lot of genre content.
My daughter is a massive Steven Universe fan: this show should be the default state of ALL genre content going forward: nothing is wrong, everything is potentially feasible, and anything can be written without fear it might offend someone. The message of love, and why it matters, may not be very palatable to those who feel stories must use conflict differently to be satisfying, but it proves that you don’t need negativity to either create interest or drive narratives forward. The biggest issue, in all of this, is quite simple. Some people are more worthy than others.
Except, of course, they’re not.
That’s not how art criticism works. That’s not how movies work. It’s not how Social media or journalism should work either, but the people in charge seem a bit reticent to change what makes the most money: right now if you’re not being contentious, you’re not doing it right. Except this is the absolute best way to make people like me decide that you know what? Life is too short for your bollocks, this repeated wanking over sacred cows you feel have now been destroyed by intervention, when the reality is far more simplistic. This stuff was never meant to be bled dry. It was a product of its era, and can happily be left there. It should be consumed, before moving on.
The best art stems from conflict. The conflicts that matter most are those with relevance to the largest sections of society. The last time I looked, approximately, 107 boys are born for every 100 girls. I think it is high time that life reflected a far more balanced outlook than is currently the case.
This really isn’t too much to ask.