Friday, April 17, 2009

This post gets a 7.8

If I could leave behind only one idea, it would be this:

(Actually, that's not true. There are lots of ideas I'd like to leave behind, but this is an important one.)

"The mark of a connoisseur is not that he knows what's good and what's bad, but that he finds both good and bad in everything."

That is to say, a person who's truly knowledgeable about something doesn't turn up their nose to anything but what is considered the "best." Instead they're always trying a bit of everything. To the master critic, there is only one insult: boring, and there is only one praise: interesting.

Another way to put it is this: "On the day I learned to appreciate fine cuisine, I didn't stop liking bubble gum."

And on the road to this sort of appreciation, I think services like Netflix and Gamefly are one of the best modern aids.

I think a lot of the snooty element of criticism ultimately comes from the purchase of it. People read reviews because they don't want to waste money on an experience they won't enjoy. As a side-effect, though, we develop the idea that some works are "good" while others are "bad,"* and many people miss out on things that, although not entirely sound, are still valuable and thought provoking.

But once your media becomes a single service, a single fee that gets you access to a large bank of material, it does a lot to change your perspective.

Why should I even read a game review now? If it seems even a little interesting I can add it to my queue and see what it's about. If I don't like it, I can just ship it back the next day and try something else. Why should I care what the current Metacritic score of a movie is? If I don't like it, I'll just stop the DVD.

The only review that matters now is the kind that don't score at all, but are instead just an intellectual discussion of a work's merits . . . which is really what a review is supposed to be anyway.

*This does not include movies with vampire turkeys.

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