The Wesleyan Argus | A.O. Scott Defends the Art of Criticism

“One of the things that any artist is working with is other art. You think about filmmakers, for example, and they all start out as film fans. You have Martin Scorsese as a kid going to double features every day and absorbing all of the world in that way, and then thinking about Quentin Tarantino in the video store,” Scott said. “In the simplest way that you see something or you hear something, and you start thinking, ‘How did they do that? Could I do that? Could I do it better? How would I do it differently?’ All of what we identify as aspects of the creative process, the absorption of influence, the learning and discarding of rules, the workshop discipline of figuring out what works and what doesn’t and how—all of that is criticism.”


Most human effort results in mediocrity, it’s just the tragic fact of the human condition. The question is, though, how mad are you gonna get about that?

The Wesleyan Argus | A.O. Scott Defends the Art of Criticism

Hunger Makes Us Modern Fans: An Interview with Carrie Brownstein | NOISEY

Fandom carries with it an inherent curiosity, and I think curiosity is what allows us to be open and optimistic and to allow into our lives experiences that we would otherwise be closed off to. We’re confronted all the time with so many instances and so much information that almost requires a shutting down—almost requires us to become inert… to become frightened. There’s something about fandom’s relationship to curiosity that keeps us moving forward into the world and into the process of discovery, and I think to balance that with the things that feel more frightening and uncertain… It helps me keep optimism as part of the ingredients in my life, and it helps me live in the present. Even if you’re discovering something old for the first time, the process of allowing something new into your life I think speaks to an allowance that’s important.

Hunger Makes Us Modern Fans: An Interview with Carrie Brownstein | NOISEY

Joe Jonas: My Life As a Jonas Brother

Who knows how much of this is just really good, massaged PR messaging, but still. An interesting look from the inside out.

Joe Jonas: My Life As a Jonas Brother

Saying Good-bye As the Braves Leave Atlanta for ‘Atlanta’ – Grantland.

Nothing in this message is a lie, or even exaggerated, once you realize who the audience is. This message isn’t directed toward the Atlanta city-dweller. The “you, our fans” is not targeted at a person who lives in the city of Atlanta. It’s targeted at everyone in that dark-red blot that lives in the city’s northern suburbs. If you’re a fan who lives in these suburban areas, today is a great day. It has long been a hassle to get to Turner Field — because it involves going all the way to Atlanta to see the Atlanta Braves.

Beatlemania: ‘the screamers’ and other tales of fandom.

If anyone is likely to look kindly on the excesses of new generations of fans, it’s a former Beatlemaniac. “I understand when I see the One Direction kids going mad,” says Bridget Kelly. “People think they’re silly but they’re not. It’s the togetherness. We had this big communal thing that we all knew and loved and understood — something that was yours and nothing to do with your mum and dad. We were all in it together. It was lovely.”

Remember this old photo? Filed under: fandom.

Drift Compatible – Geek Empire. In which L. Rhodes uses Pacific Rim as a pivot to talk about kaiju films as manifestations of urban anxiety, and issues that come out of genre and fandom in general. Good reminder that I can learn from bad movies, too.

When a fanboy defends Pacific Rim to those audience members by saying, “What did you expect?” the underlying issue is genre. An astute viewer will learn to expect certain things from movies that fall into certain genres. A clever filmmaker will learn how to use those expectations to advantage. A fair-minded critic will keep those expectations in mind when judging a genre film. Things are rarely so simple. For one thing, genres carry their own history implicitly, and that often makes it difficult to understand just what’s at stake…

One of the things I love about sports is that they let you spend time communing with trepidation and panic without making you face any consequences.

Understanding a fan’s relationship with management in sports – Grantland

You hit 30, 35, 40, and the life of a professional athlete seems more and more remote. It’s one of a million pasts that never happened rather than a future you can dream about. And the experience of the coach is simply much more accessible to almost every grown-up fan than the experience of any high-level player. And not just because so many fans go on to coach their kid’s T-ball team or whatever; think of it as a lifestyle question. The coach doesn’t have to be able to score from an overhead kick or throw a football 80 yards; he has to run meetings, make plans, juggle lists, and justify himself, same as anybody. He does paperwork. Maybe hops on the treadmill when he can. He’s still connected to the magic of sports, but with him it takes the form of inspired halftime speeches and brilliant late-game stratagems — basically work e-mail lifted to a spiritual plane. More than anything, he has to watch a ton of games: obsess about what’s not working, get mad at players who screw up, praise players who do well.

Understanding a fan’s relationship with management in sports – Grantland

What is art in the internet age? | Yale Insights

Q: What are the incentives you think artists are responding to?

Money and fame and sex—the same as always—but now there’s a difference. You can’t perfect your masterwork for 20 years. There’s a bit of a hurry. There’s a sense that things are changing. You can end up obsolete.

Q: How about from the audience perspective? How different is consuming art versus other consumption?

I think it’s changed enormously in the last 10 years. You see it in movie theaters, but it’s everywhere: people text or tweet and don’t pay full attention. They’re in some ways quite fussy. The attitude is, I’m already in control of my own informational life and entertainment. What else can you bring to the table? Not in a hostile way, but in an entirely legitimate “what have you got for me?” way. A lot of creators aren’t really up to it.

What is art in the internet age? | Yale Insights

Q. and A. – Chris Rock Is Itching for Dirty Work –

On criticism:

Only fans should be allowed to criticize. Because it’s for the fans. When I hear somebody go, “Country music [stinks],” I’m like, well, country music’s not for you. You’re just being elitist. Only a fan of Travis Tritt can say the record [stinks], because he’s got every one.

Also, on the need to work up your craft in private:

When you’re workshopping it, a lot of stuff is bumpy and awkward. Especially when you’re working on the edge, you’re going to offend. […] You’re mad at Ray Leonard because he’s not in shape, in the gym? That’s what the gym’s for. The sad thing, with all this taping and stuff, no one’s going to do stand-up. And every big stand-up I talk to says: “How do I work out new material? Where can you go, if I have a half an idea and then it’s on the Internet next week?” Just look at some of my material. You can’t imagine how rough it was and how unfunny and how sexist or racist it might have seemed. “Niggas vs. Black People” probably took me six months to get that thing right. You know how racist that thing was a week in? That’s not to be seen by anybody.

Q. and A. – Chris Rock Is Itching for Dirty Work –

Abebe: Nicki Minaj, Hot 97, and the Fight Over ‘Real Hip-Hop’ — Vulture

We’ve all spent years talking about taste in the age of the mp3, and how listeners can shuffle happily from Hank Williams to Too $hort to Katy Perry. Minaj might force some people to accept that a musician might have more than one inclination as well — that she might, unsurprisingly, be interested in steely rapping and sugar-rush pop at the same time.

Abebe: Nicki Minaj, Hot 97, and the Fight Over ‘Real Hip-Hop’ — Vulture

I’m almost annoyed when something I’ve been interested in becomes valuable. Then it becomes trouble. I have to take care of it.

It’s my theory that rock and roll happens between fans and stars, rather than between listeners and musicians—that you have to be a screaming teenager, at least in your heart, to know what’s going on.

Ellen Willis, quoted in The New Inquiry – Heroine: Ellen Willis on Rock Music. On a similar note, Daniel Mendelsohn says:

Strange as it may sound to many people, who tend to think of critics as being motivated by the lower emotions: envy, disdain, contempt even… Critics are, above all, people who are in love with beautiful things, and who worry that those things will get broken.

See also both Little Steven and Elijah Wald on music and dancing.

The Joy of Stats – Tablet Magazine

Where before we silently cursed the dumb coach in our living room while remaining unsure whether we were pissed because we were right or because we had had four beers, today we take to the Internet and find thousands of people who also think we are right, and some more who have done the math that demonstrates that we are right, and therefore we know.

The Joy of Stats – Tablet Magazine