The Playgoer: Blogging Revolution or Revulsion?

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Thursday, December 06, 2007

Blogging Revolution or Revulsion?

Nathan Huang

I try to stay away from inside-blogging topics. But, hey, not when I'm mentioned!

Time Out's cover-story this week (see graphic) is basically a virtual roundtable with both MSM critics and bloggers (including yours truly) reacting to various questions along the lines of "is everyone a critic" and "will newspapers still exist in 20 years"?

They wouldn't have been the questions I would ask, but some good quotes come out of it all the same. (No, and not just the ones from or about me! Of which there are not nearly enough, I might add.)

First, my hat off to my friend Tweed for stating the obvious:
Every emergent form of media is based upon and inextricable from forms before it. Oral to written culture, handwritten manuscripts to the printing press, analog to digital: They’re all cut from the same cloth. If anything, the Internet is a giant boost for criticism: Readership explodes exponentially, in numbers, demographics and geographies, and although it “dilutes” the field a bit, that doesn’t compare to the amazing benefits Internet culture provides.
No doubt, some pillars of the community railed against printing presses, taking "authority" away from the scribes--who literally had to sweat over every precious word, damnit, so you know they're "qualified." I imagine the phrase "don't believe everything you read in print" started circulating soon afterwards. Quills are expensive, typeface cheap.

The other side of the spectrum is voiced by TONY film critic David Fear:
[S]uddenly anybody can just say, “The Phantom Menace is awesome!,” and that’s given the same weight as the opinion of someone who’s been evaluating movies professionally for 50 years, the sense of authority is gone.
Talk about Fear-mongering! Ok, I like his reviews in TONY, and he seems otherwise to be a blogosphere supporter. But I'm getting tired of this common strawman. Who does give "weight" to the "Phantom Menace is awesome" guy??? (Especially in that particular case.) And who would even be aware of a case like that except some friend of his already surfing his fan-blog. (Or George Lucas.)

This does raise an interesting question (untouched upon in the TONY piece) about the future not of criticism but of "pull quotes"--perhaps the format in which most legit criticism is actually read. (Think: we keep seeing Gene Shalit's name in every ad, but when was the last time you read, or even watched, an actual "review" by him?) I do imagine the day's not far off (or already here?) when "'Phantom Menace is Awesome!'--Joe Dude's Blog" actually makes it to a print-ad.

The effect of that, though, will be not to make criticism meaningless, but pull-quotes meaningless. Which is probably a good thing.

Finally, I must admit to blushing at the following anti-blog admonition in the spread from the Post's Linda Stasi:
The Internet should come with a warning label: Beware any blog that has the words musings, thoughts and ramblings in it. This is as clear a sign of the bad, boring amateur writer as deer poop is for a hunter.
Uh-oh. Scroll up to that "About Me" in my upper right margin...

I guess when the Stasi is onto you, time to go underground. And clean up my deer poop.

ADDENDUM: For readers less familiar with this blog, I realize I should add, for full disclosure, that I am occasionally a Time Out contributor, as well.

PS. I've also changed the Time Out link itself to take you into the text of the piece itself, rather than the menu. Hopefully easier and less daunting to navigate that way...


Playgoer said...

Oh, and for what it's worth, the Time Out intro to the piece actually gets Isherwood on the record about blogs! But only a brief dismissal.


Ah, to blog or not to blog? As a pre-Media Studies major, this is something that actually has been on my mind as of late, and I find it quite amusing that a publication is taking notice of the recent Blogosphere Craze, asked a panel of bloggers to foray into a discussion of said Blogosphere, and...published it.

Judging from that alone, I think it is quite clear as to how interconnected all forms of medium are, especially when it comes to journalism. As your friend aptly stated, they are all cut from the same cloth.

I personally don't think the Blog Craze takes anything away from the experience of, say, reading what a NYT critic has to offer; if anything, it should be considered like the "Special Features" in the DVD of Journalism (okay, bad title)-- it only enhances the theatre/film/art experience, and opinions can be a lot more free-wheeling.

Perhaps I am just saying all this because I myself am guilty of such Fan!Blogging (I am, after all, Everyone's Favourite Fangirl. Or at least I think so). Ah, that's just as well, I suppose.

Andrew said...

From the "About TAPPED" description on their website:

"TAPPED, the Prospect's award-winning group blog, is a link-intensive collection of musings, ramblings, opinions and other assorted writing on the developments of the day"

So you're in good company anyway in your musing.

Mondschein said...

I'd suggest that Ms. Stasi re-think her analogy " deer poop is for a hunter." To that hunter, such a sign indicates the presence of his desired target in the area.