Richard Schickel, film critic for Time magazine and “a frequent book reviewer” for the L.A. Times, uses that newspaper’s op-ed pages to launch the latest salvo in the apparently escalating war between print book reviewers and those, like me, who review online. Here’s the part I find most offensive:
Let me put this bluntly, in language even a busy blogger can understand: Criticism — and its humble cousin, reviewing — is not a democratic activity. It is, or should be, an elite enterprise, ideally undertaken by individuals who bring something to the party beyond their hasty, instinctive opinions of a book (or any other cultural object).
Ooh, “an elite enterprise.” Sorry, I don’t think you have to be a critic for a newspaper or magazine or a member of the literati to “bring something to the party.” To quote a blogger for Britain’s The Guardian, “It is daft to pit print against blog when it is what is said and the quality of thought that matters.”
There’s so much else wrong with the op-ed piece but for now I am going to defer to Scott Esposito’s excellent deconstruction of it.
I don’t believe in elitism. I don’t think the audience is this dumb person lower than me. I am the audience.
Quentin Tarantino, New York Times Magazine, Nov. 16, 1997