Rikki Simons (rikkisimons) wrote,
  • Music: Quantum Donkey in My Brain. MY BRAIN!

RE: Essential Reading for Weekend Internet Critics

New entry here: http://sadcircusbythesea.typepad.com/the_sad_circus_by_the_sea/2006/11/essential_readi.html


Following this Journalista link from here and then to here, I have this to say on the subject of critics and reviews:

Kevin Church's "handy Primer" is silly and illogical, especially when you compare point one — Your LiveJournal "friends list" does not necessarily reflect the taste of the general reading public — with the utterly conflicting point two Marketing yourself and your work includes your personal blog and website. Well, which it?

In fact all of these points expect point two — do not immediately assume they are a moron — I mostly disagree with. I don't think they're morons. I think they're often just full of themselves. Critics, take your lumps, just like we do. You cannot post a review to a blog with a comments section turned on or your e-mail made public without expecting to hear from the author if they disagree with you. Your review is not any more immune from recrimination than an author's books are. For the angry author, this probably falls under the heading "if I want to make an ass out of myself that's my business" but if we're at least respecting point two for the critic then the least the critic can do is the same when the author takes them on (politely). We also cannot control what our fans will say when they read your review. In some cases when the author links to your review they are inciting a riot, but if the author just blew a year of their life on a work, fatigued, bent in real starvation, and the reviewer spent an hour reviewing after getting free swag, then you as a critic should forgive this reaction. It's called human nature and professionalism is irrelevant (and usually just wishful thinking on the part of the would-be critic).

Being a critic makes you a target and you are only more welcome than the IRS because of the hope of a good review — but even a good review isn't as fun as a tax return. I respect the right of critics to write reviews, but I cannot respect the plea against recrimination when the author thinks they've been short-changed. A lot of comic critics on the internet are like web comics guys who make video game comics in order to receive a press status and get free Wii. They are doing it to fill their shelves with free swag in many cases.

So I think it is you the critics who should give us the authors and artists some slack and not the other way around, because you're the ones who have the most to profit from a review, not always the author. Creative artists have responded passionately to critics since the first bonfire actor boxed the ears and face of the first peanut gallery heckler. This didn't change with the invention of the printing press and it didn't change when ink and paper got upgraded to ones and zeroes.

I say all this without spite. I would add one of those little happy faces at the end of my paragraphs but they make me twitch.

With all that said, here's my review of Pixar's Cars. And don't nobody say nuthin' bad to me about my awesome opinion! Booohooohooooooo! (insert pandering wink-face here).

Cars, and Look into the Post Apocalyptic Nightmare

In the name of Darwin and all that is scientifically holy and good, what am I looking at here?!? Where are the people? Why are these cars talking to me and emoting whilst septic country-pop throttles my VERY SOUL? What kind of glaciers carve canyons into the shape of mufflers and pistons? Why do these metal denizens have the same hatred for progress and love for idealized Americana and WASPish 1950's nostalgia as modern animators do?

It's obvious isn't it? The machines have risen up once again in fiction but this time in the aftermath they have taken the strangest shape of all. Gone are the silver blobs of Terminator or the black metallic squids of The Matrix, or even the robot head-thingie of Hardware. Whatever hive-mind controls this post apocalyptic nightmare has not only wiped humanity from the map, but all biological life as well, and for some reason it has designated the anthropomorphised automobile as their form of choice.

Theirs is a classist, caste society too, built on the stereotypes of their long dead human masters and organised into distinctions of model and maker. Modelist? Makist? Racist will work in this analogy as well, since the cars think they are the sentient biological life-form on the planet. The Ferrari is a Tuscan or Roman car from Italy, but the VW Van is a white hippie who is befriended by Vietnam era army Jeep. These cars were born into their stereotypes by whatever manufacturer serves the invisible architect of this world — and the fact that there are references to “the 60’s” and that the Jeep is Vietnam era implies that the architect has spent its time designing the cars history completely after its human progenitors.

What does this mean for the Cars’ future if the architect has included a California with a Spanish history, or a Vietnam War, or a World War II? It means the architect has tried to mimic its human creators too closely and this society will eventually fall to the same Armageddon that destroyed the humans. Car scientists and Car computer theorists — probably electric cars — will eventually stumble upon building their own robots to do society's bidding and this will of course, just like the humans before them, bring the Cars to flopping face first into creating artificial intelligence — and they too shall die by the hand of their creations. What will this intelligence be to the Cars? Will it be organic? Pure energy?

Tires. Tires are the form their future destroyers will take, because tires are the cars' mode of transportation, just like cars used to be ours. And after the Tires? Rubber. Then molecules. Then quantum donkeys. Shut up. You know I'm right.

So! In conclusion, I sat rapt with terror through this, the greatest and most poetic of Pixar's cautionary tales since that fish movie fortold of a future pre apocalyptic nightmare where hideous 3D talking animals would one day replace hideous 2D talking animals.

Oh, and I liked some of the pretty colors.

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