hey to anyone who is reading this,
sorry to be away for so long again. finally, its masters thesis time at uni. topic is agreed on (something on husserl not quite the far reaching topic i had in mind, but closely related. yay phenomenology!), and i hope formalities are going to be over soon so i can start getting to work. the insecurity about the whole situation is rather unpleasant and taking its toll on how well my body is functioning. this, in turn, doesnt do much to de-stressing, so: vicious circle.
anyway, i need to vent. (read: rant)
maybe you are aware, and maybe you are not, that HBO has made a series out of george r.r. martins fantasy novel "game of thrones". two rather (or at least i thought so) high profile sources posted reviews for the series that are bad beyond the need for discussion. (and i will still write this journal about them!)
exhibit A is by ginia bellafante for the new york times: tv.nytimes.com/2011/04/15/arts… in which she famously declares that while some women may read fantasy novels (inconceivable!), she has no evidence of any woman who would choose the hobbit over the latest work of one lorrie moore. (whose name i read for the first time in that article, whom none of my female friends ever heard of, and whose wikipedia article suggests an oevre of a kind that i know strikes a lot of peoples fancy, that i could not imagine indulging in on my own, free will, not even for money, and that suspiciously wakes associations of mistaking display of the frustration of the unreflected with depth.) thus, its fine to decry fantasy as stupid boy stuff. the logic rests on how representative mrs. bellafantes acquaintances are. which is what you are probably questioning yourself at this point as well.
exhibit B is by troy patterson for slate: www.slate.com/id/2291119/ in which there is so much ridiculous and uninformed, utter bullcrap drivel that it makes mrs. bellafantes take (see exhibit A) look borderline acceptable in comparison.
mr. matt zoller seitz wrote a very informed and highly recommended review of pattersons and bellafantes 'reviews', which i highly recommend reading: www.salon.com/entertainment/tv… this time, for the actual reading, not just that you can see for yourself. he points out so much that is wrong about these reviews that i wont paraphrase much of it. hes done a great job writing and you should read it. it will also restore the belief in humanity you lost over exhibits A & B.
however, there are a few points unaddressed.
namely, i think that mr. patterson is completely unfit for his job. everyone has, and is entitled to his or her opinion, of course, and opinion can be based entirely on gut reaction. that is perfectly valid. if your job is, however, to write reviews for a news source, your job demands a certain skill set. you still can have your gut opinion on stuff, but you need to be able to differentiate between what just is not your cup of tea (coffee?) and what is bad craft. your job is to write about the craft part, and use your experience as a professional viewer to put your personal, private opinion in context. if you lack this skill and make your guinea by writing reviews, you are not fulfilling the responsibilities of your job.
mr. patterson, though, writes: "The reviewer happens to have an anti-weakness for that general sensibility [fantasy] and those armor-clad generic trappings. Hey, his loss, he knows, but, for instance, he cannot trust his taste to tell him if the Harry Potter books are written well."
which can either be simplified to:
1) mr. patterson does not like fantasy.
2) because of 1), mr. patterson is unable to discern whether the craft of the show in question is any good.
1) mr. pattersons personal taste is in strong opposition when mr. patterson is confronted with fantasy
2) thus, mr. patterson will not be able to trust his taste to tell him of the craft level of the show in question.
the latter scenario then raises the question at what point mr. patterson will trust his taste his subjective and completely accidental liking of what the show is about to tell him whether it does a good job.
in both cases (and i fear that the former scenario rings closer to home), this statement equals a confession that mr. patterson does know exactly bupkis about how to discern the quality of something. there are semantic differences between the two scenarios, but they boil down to mr. patterson being only able to tell what quality something is in dependence of whether he, subjectively, likes the subject matter. (the former scenario means that his dislike prevents him from discerning quality, i.e. he can not see a flawless pearl if it is the wrong colour, while the latter scenario means that unless his dislike prevents him from using his liking of the subject matter as a yardstick for quality, he will use it as such, i.e. he may mistake a shitty pearl for a flawless one because he likes its colour)
he even rubs his ignorance in the readers face when he writes: "You see, Game of Thronesadapted by David Benioff and Dan Weiss from a series of novels by George R.R. Martinis quasi-medieval, dragon-ridden fantasy crap. That's not a comment on its quality but a definition of its type." making an explicit point about how he perceives subject matter not only as a indicating quality, but determining quality. i guess he really has that kind of tunnel view. how else could he write that the shows sex scenes are "unhealthily kinky"? how unreflected must his own worldview be, when he does not even flinch typing out loud that by deviating from what he knows and always knew and how things are done, around here, one is placing ones health on the line?
it probably is a sad fact that there are people who think that their personal dislike of a genre at large makes them able to wreak some pseudointellectual havoc against that genre, AND at the same time being convinced of making absolutely truthful statements, because one cant be bothered to stoop down to the level of certain genres. (sidenote: kirk hamilton wrote a good article on genre, and how it is both useful and problematic at www.pastemagazine.com/articles… recommended reading, even if you are not into games) but there should be editors in place. heck, there should even be some kind of control whether a person has the skill sets necessary for doing his or her job. in the case of mrs. bellafante, it is possible that the editors just assigned the wrong person to reviewing game of thrones. a person whose acquaintances preference for (big assumption on my part, mainly for illustrating the point, not to talk down upon a genre) pseudointellectual masturbatory aids instead of fantasy somewhat (read: severely) skewed her judgement. in the case of mr. patterson, i really wonder how he still has his job by now, and how phrases like "unhealthily kinky" made it through to being published, even when surrounded by such self-righteous drivel as mr. pattersons review is.
just as much as it is the respective authors responsibility to their job to have a certain skill set, it is the responsibility of the whole apparatus of editors, proofreaders, etcetera, to make sure that some people dont get to do certain jobs.
sorry for the wall of text.
more pleasant news: i am going to partake in a small exhibition at the village where i live and will try to get some pieces done for it. i probably wont find the time to tackle the shakespeare project i mentioned any time soon, though. but i do have an idea what im going to do.