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PC Culture

The Corruption of Critics

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I wrote before about how thoroughly the critical profession has allowed itself to become corrupted; if your analysis is based on anything other than the quality of what you’re appraising, you’re allowing yourself to be swayed — to be corrupted. There are at least two pretty obvious drivers of critical corruption: politics and the quest for coolness.

Essayist Freddie deBoer, in his Substack, has a long post today going through why he thinks music critics are more concerned with seeming cool than being honest about their reactions to an album, which has led them to disavow previous positions that have been rendered untenably uncool over time (the post is titled “The Problem with Liz Phair’s Self-Titled Album Is That It’s an Irredeemable Piece of S***”). He adds

We have an entire industry of busy young writers coming up with ways to praise women artists and Black artists and queer artists for everything but the art they produce. That isn’t respect, but respect’s opposite. It’s a consolation prize, a simulacra of critical praise that abstracts musicians away from music until the laurel you’re giving out is utterly vague praise for existing as a particular kind of individual.

Obviously true, and I wonder how many artists from “underrepresented groups” are rolling their eyes each day as the delivery van pulls up to their door with yet more honors, gongs, statuettes, trophies, and certificates of praise. Enough already, many of them must be thinking. I’m not that good. DeBoer segues into a slam of the very bad but very P.C. movie Promising Young Woman, which won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for its completely ridiculous revenge-fantasy scenario.

You know what that movie is? It’s a homework assignment; it’s bad fan fic scrawled in the margins of a gender studies textbook. But it received dutifully positive reviews from a critical corps that’s terrified of getting canceled and that has devolved to assigning Representation Units to every piece of s**t movie and show that crosses their transom and determining their opinion based on that.

I don’t think you can trust most critics to tell you what they actually think anymore. I think they’re lying to the public and lying to themselves in an effort to stay afloat.

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