In a must-read think-piece, Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert laments the cannibalistic celebrity culture of the daily press, citing film critics as the canaries in the media coal mine (a metaphor I've used myself, in relation to arts coverage in general). In a stimulating, accurate and rather depressing piece, he asks what critics are for:
A good friend of mine in a very big city was once told by his editor that the critic should "reflect the taste of the readers." My friend said, "Does that mean the food critic should love McDonald's?" The editor: "Absolutely." I don't believe readers buy a newspaper to read variations on the Ed McMahon line, "You are correct, sir!" A newspaper film critic should encourage critical thinking, introduce new developments, consider the local scene, look beyond the weekend fanboy specials, be a weatherman on social trends, bring in a larger context, teach, inform, amuse, inspire, be heartened, be outraged.
Which, of course, applies to theatre criticism too. H/t Lynden Barber at Eyes Wired Open.
The only chink of light here is the internet. But if the Rudd Government has its way, our internet will soon be as censored as that in China and Iran. In the name, of course, of protecting our children, which, it seems, excuses everything. There's a sizeable public protest mobilising against the new filtering proposals, which have incurred criticisms from everybody from IT industry spokespeople to child protection authorities. There will be nationwide protests on December 13. Find out what you can do here.