The Professional Critic

chimney sweep 6
chimney sweep 6 (Photo credit: janGlas)

The Slo-Man was entertained the other day by a heated discussion on Facebook.

A lady who seems to be a food columnist was outraged when she overheard a conversation at a restaurant. One of the diners at a neighboring table, while asking for the check, told the waiter that her companion was a food columnist.

The lady’s outrage had an ethical and moral slant to it. She went on to say that she has enjoined all those who know what she does for a living not to breathe a word of it in any restaurant, bar or social event lest her impartiality as a professional critic be compromised.

The Slo-man, who can be quite cynical, was struck by the fact that the irony of her posting these comments on a public forum such as Facebook was lost on the lady.

This is probably a good time to mention that the Slo-Man was in school and college with the subject of the lady’s ire. And to remind everyone that the Slo-Man was not present so his comments are based on hearsay and the exchange of comments on a public forum. It was also clearly acknowledged that the supposed culprit was actually an innocent victim of his well-meaning friend.

The use of online forums to vent, rant and otherwise promote personal preferences is only going to grow. The options available these days are endless. Anyone with access to the internet now has a limitless supply of user forums for any topic, Facebook, LinkedIn. Twitter, Google+ and other ways to comment on any and everything. No real knowledge of the language, facts, history or any ability to analyse and arrive at a well-reasoned response is necessary.

The Slo-Man sometimes reads the comments section of stories published on news sites as a source of amusement and ultimate sadness.

And of course, there are blogs. Blogs are the ultimate weapon when having the last word is of paramount importance. When you own your own blog, you post your opinions and you choose whether to allow comments that trample upon your firm beliefs and cherished opinions. You are in ultimate control.

And as almost everyone the Slo-Man knows now has a blog, the Slo-Man wonders: who cares what the Professional Critic has to say? The Slo-Man used to read “user reviews” when conducting research before major purchases. He still does, but now is more aware of reviews that sound suspiciously like marketing materials.

One of the bloggers the Slo-Man reads regularly was lamenting the lapsing of print newspapers. Like chimney sweeps, scullery maids, butlers and lamplighers the Slo-Man predicts the demise of professional critics.

They are already redundant.

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  1. Pat

    Ooh – had not thought of my blog or Facebook page as a weapon.
    You think you are the Slo-man, I must be pretty slo-woman. No imagination and me thinking I’m a writer.
    Now, who can I shoot?
    What? It doesn’t work that way?
    Damn. Oh, yes, the pen is mightier than the sword. And the gun. And the professional critic.

    1. The Slo-Man

      Well, in this version of rock/paper/scissors, blog out-shouts the pen. The sheer potential reach of a blog outstrips anything the pen could do or the sword for that matter. Hence the arrest of online bloggists and twittists in some countries. The power of blogs truly lies in bringing self-belief to ordinary people. It allows ordinary folk who’ve never considered themselves as experts in anything to put forward their ideas willy nilly.
      I’ve often believed that “professional critics” write for other “professional critics” and not for the ordinary folk like the Slo-Man.

      1. Pat

        I’m sure you’re right. And I’m not sure anyone pays any attention any more.
        Certainly with a critically acclaimed film, it can often mean it is dreadful and not worth seeing.
        The public prefers to make up its own mind these days.

  2. The Slo-Man

    Exactly! What does “critically acclaimed” mean? I mean this post is also “critically acclaimed”, no? At least 2 people amongst the tens of readers “liked” it…..