The return of the amateur critic ~ theatre notes

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The return of the amateur critic

Update: The Wheeler Centre has uploaded edited videos of two Critical Failure sessions - film and theatre - on its website.

The ABC's opinion website, The Drum, today runs my piece The Return of the Amateur Critic, which is in part an extension of the discussion at the Wheeler Centre last week.

Does the digital revolution really represent the end of culture as we know it? Are the barbarians waving their iPhones at the gate, ripping up the sacred canons while the last bastions of light (represented here by such grave illuminati as Peter Craven and Cameron Woodhead) stand in the keep like Theoden King in The Lord of the Rings, strapping on their greaves while the forces of darkness howl for Justin Bieber and Paris Hilton?

Well… not really. I've been a keen netizen and observer since the mid-90s, and I figure that, as with the Bible, everything you might say about the internet is true. Yes, it is a bewildering sea awash with trash, populated by subterranean creatures with the social graces and charm of Darth Vader's TIE fighters. Yes, it represents late capitalism at its most pornographically decadent. Yes, its crassness and illiteracy can surpass belief.

And yes, the internet is where I can find some of the most dynamic and intelligent commentary on art and society. This is especially true of discussion about theatre, which as a sub-section of Showbiz has always been poorly attended in Australia's daily press. As a nexus for various arts - music, performance, visual art, literature, digital design and so on - theatre is an outward-looking culture. Unlike literature, its public is always present in the flesh. These immediacies mean that some of the most stimulating and profound thinking about art, culture, literature and society I've been reading in recent years is going on in the theatre blogs.


You can read the rest here.

9 comments:

David Mence said...

There never did, there never will, and there never can exist a parliament, or any description of men, or any generation of men, in any country, possessed of the right or the power of binding and controlling posterity to the end of time, or of commanding for ever how the world shall be governed, or who shall govern it.

- Tom Paine.

Viva la Internets.

George Hunka said...

Tally-ho, Ms. C. Well said.

epistemysics said...

Interesting... I think I have some stuff to say but it needs more cogitation. Anyway. In the video you referred to a David Mamet essay about critics that you said was quite influential to you as a young critic - you wouldn't happen to know what it's called, would you? My curiosity has been piqued!

Alison Croggon said...

Hi EP - It's called "An address to the American Critics Convention..." and it's in Mamet's collection of essays, Writing in Restaurants. Which is well worth seeking out.

Casey Bennetto said...

Nice rejoinder on the Guardian site too Alison - but in my role as Peter Pedantic I must pull you up on one small point: if Cameron Woodhead has indeed executed a 360 degree turn, he's facing in the same direction as he was beforehand.

I know, I know. I'm sorry.

Anonymous said...

Cameron Woodhead is a brave soul to take you on like that - with only his feeble wits to guide him.

I like how he both quoted Montaigne AND accused you of trying to appear clever. That's irony there, that is.

Geoffrey said...

More 'anonymous' bagging of Cameron Woodhead. Ye Gods! Does that qualify as "irony" too?

Alison Croggon said...

Damn - exactly like that backflip that politicians continually execute, which leaves them facing the same way. My year 10 maths lets me down again! Thanks Casey. The advantage of having these things pointed out to me is that I seldom make that mistake again...

I do wonder if Cameron will enter the fray. I hope he does.

Alison Croggon said...

And of course he did!