Critic’s Rejoinder

No better magnet for abuse
Than writing critical reviews.
On bad reviews you whine and seethe
Just like that song by Toby Keith:

“What did I do to make you mad?
You’re nasty just to sell more ads.
Unless you can say something nice
Then your silence will suffice.”

You then cite Anton Ego’s words
To claim how criticism’s absurd:
“An average piece of junk’s worth more
Than some foolish critic’s score!”

That notion strongly I debunk:
An average piece of junk’s still junk!
By your words, a rotten apple’s
Equal to the Sistine Chapel.

Just come clean and speak the truth:
You’re seeking out an ego boost.
If I had penned you honeyed prose
You would not come off so hard-nosed.

So shut my mouth lest I play nice?
But follow thee thine own advice?
Clandestinely, you speak reviews
With acid tongue through Mary Sue.

You shout that Anton Ego mused
A critic should champion the new
Yet even you cannot dispute
Not all new thing’s worth the pursuit.

Look, this review that I composed
Is basically a comment post
Though those briefs aren’t as long as this:
I find you worth analysis.

But lest you think I’m status quo —
I, the Last Word? Oh, Heavens no!
Quell your heart, there’s naught to fear,
Most what I write falls on deaf ears.

Scant few I write is stemmed from hate.
Respect, I do, that you create;
Yet do not honest thoughts outweigh
Fans lavishing mere fawning praise?

Compelled you are, and so am I
To put to words what’s on my mind —
For you to churn out fiction works,
And me to be a righteous jerk.

Notes: I write critical reviews of webcomics at my other site. Incidentally, most what I write — even the negative reviews — are taken quite well by the creators themselves. The ones who take it the hardest are the fans, who think I’m being cruel. I’m actually writing this from the perspective of a reviewer who must’ve read Alexander Pope’s Essay On Criticism.

There’s a little bit of Scott Kurtz (writer of PvP) in there as well. There was one podcast he did about critics, and he cited Anton Ego, the surly critic from Ratatouille. I would have taken his words to heart if I hadn’t read Roger Ebert’s take on the same scene, where he wrote that most people take that scene incorrectly. That “junk is still junk” part? It was a summary of Ebert’s essay on the matter.

I think Anton is too hard on critics, although perhaps he is writing autobiographically. Is he correct that “average piece of junk is more meaningful than our criticism designating it so?” I would suggest that the average piece of junk is not meaningful at all, apart from the way it conditions the minds of its beholders to accept more pieces of junk. How important is criticism of it? Powerless, usually. Why do critics bother with it? I will appoint myself spokesman. We had to endure it and want our revenge. We enjoy writing scathing and witty prose. We know we are rarely writing for those who seek out junk. Perhaps we hope we entertain, and encourage the resolve of those who avoid it.

RIP, Roger Ebert.

Also, yes, Toby Keith totally did a song making fun of critics.


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