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Lick-T
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Criticism

My wife and I spent Christmas watching movies, something we almost never do. One of the films we watched (right before taking in the Kill Bill saga) was Ratatouille from the Pixar folks.

There is a wonderful character in the movie voiced by Peter O'Toole named Anton Ego, a notoriously harsh food critic.

At the end of the film his final review the restaurant run by rats offers one side of how to look at critics and criticism-

"In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face is that, in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is more meaningful than our criticism designating it so."

Lovely stuff. And I think it casts an important light on one side of what happens at Stereophile.

I do believe that the work and writing and Stereophile is important to music lovers everywhere. But at the end of the day, we must remember who is creating the equipment that brings music in our lives and who merely writes about it and puts it into context.

absolutepitch
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Re: Criticism


Quote:
... At the end of the film his final review the restaurant run by rats offers one side of how to look at critics and criticism-

"In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face is that, in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is more meaningful than our criticism designating it so." ...

I enjoyed that movie just after it came out on DVD. It impressed upon me as to how the critic finally evaluated the restaurant run by rats - how to say it well without saying it was run by rats. Well written. It makes me wonder sometimes of similar tone of writing in audio mags. When are they reviewing a great product from a "unusual" firm?

Editor
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Re: Criticism


Quote:
I do believe that the work and writing and Stereophile is important to music lovers everywhere. But at the end of the day, we must remember who is creating the equipment that brings music in our lives and who merely writes about it and puts it into context.

Post of the Day, Erick.

One thing all critics need to remember is the that the products we write about are designed and manufactured by people who have put their livelihoods on the line to do what they do. Even when we find fault, we still have to pay that manufacturer the appropriate respect.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

Monty
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Re: Criticism

No disrespect to the reviewers is intended, but over the years I've put less stock into what a reviewer says about gear. It's not so much that I don't trust most of you guys to accurately describe what you are hearing, but there's just too much good stuff out there with a minutia of character all their own. Small distractions and virtues are too often big distractions and virtues depending on the person doing the listening and most especially regarding the quality of recordings and genre chosen for the audition.

I think the most useful tool manufacturers could provide their potential customers is to describe their voicing process and their preferred instruments and music used.

I must admit, however, I'm a sucker for good writing.

dbowker
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Re: Criticism

Great Post! I love Ratatouille, which makes me hungry every time, and it inspired our three year old boy to want to help with cooking. He likes to call himself, like Remy the cooking rat was called in the movie, my "little chef".

Luckily the Stereophile critics have always been more on the appreciative side than Anton Ego was, and obviously still like to have fun.

Lick-T
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Re: Criticism


Quote:
eat Post! I love Ratatouille, which makes me hungry every time, and it inspired our three year old boy to want to help with cooking. He likes to call himself, like Remy the cooking rat was called in the movie, my "little chef".

Does you son control your cooking by pulling on your hair?

How cute!

satkinsn
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Re: Criticism

I fully agree with the spirit of Erick's and JA's posts - it's good to be a little humble, if you're a critic.

However, I've been thinking hard about good criticism lately, and I don't think we should *undervalue* what they do either.

Roger Ebert has me chewing on this; as many people know, he's really sick - and has just posted a sad, beautiful piece about saying good-bye to eating and drinking. I have started to think about how much I value Ebert's writing, for the specifics of what he recommends and pans, for the knowledge you pick up as a regular reader, and most of all for the worldview.

A good critic can show you how much more there is to know about a given subject, and a great critic can teach you how to think about that subject.

That's no small thing.

When you have a John Atkinson (for instance) you have someone who is more than a *reviewer.* He continually pushes the state of the art along. How many manufacturers can make that claim?

Scott A.

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