David Cote, theatre editor for Time Out New York and well known critic, posted a nearly hysterical item at the Guardian yesterday, bemoaning the slash-n-burn techniques US publishers are employing to hand out pink slips to longtime, established critics. And when I say hysterical, I mean both in his delivery and in my own response of uncontrollable laughter.
Citing Variety's decision to cut loose chief film critic Todd McCarthy and chief theatre critic David Rooney on Monday--which is indeed sad--Cote's piece quickly spirals out of the realm of logic and into a diatribe of civilization-ending consequences should this trend continue.
He actually compares it with Alan Weisman's book The World without Us, stating, "You've seen the books speculating on what our cities would look like if humans vanished and nature were allowed to spread unchecked. Let's imagine a world without critics (please indulge my paranoid prognostication)." Well, yes, by all means, let's indulge him, shall we? Ha!
Combine that with his own less than stellar use of the English language--example: "... a parade of jobbing freelancers with little experience and even littler clout." Littler? Are you serious? Yes, it's a word, but that doesn't mean you have to use it. Sheesh!--and his analogy that "critics, reviewers, consumer reporters – call us what you will – are the dung beetles of culture. We consume excrement, enriching the soil and protecting livestock from bacterial infection in the process," and you've got the makings for a very public display of the crazies.
Now, don't get me wrong, kids, I do believe that critics play an important, if sometimes irritating, role in the health of the artistic community, but let's have a bit of perspective here. And for Pete's sake, whatever it is you're ingesting that makes you think it's an awesome idea to call the work that artists do "excrement"--the sole reason you have a job, btw--I suggest you put it down and phone a medical professional immediately. Be sure to ask for a lollipop on your way out.