Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The Basic Idea

Pop culture criticism is a growing industry. Ever since critical theory made mass culture a valid object of criticism, people have been sifting through the dregs of entertainment media, looking for critical themes like biologists looking for microbes in animal shit. The "critical" perspective has invaded all sorts of media commentary... lit crit has taken a recent interest in graphic novels, film crit struggles to find patterns in plebian Hollywood cinema, and music reviews have become more and more like academic treatises, depending on historical musical references so obscure that you have to be a pop music scholar to really appreciate the commentary. This is the real merging of high-brow and low-brow, when mass media is so pervasive that it doesn't make much sense to bullshit about anything else.

Of course, the critics aren't ready to be associated with the consuming masses just yet. As a result, most criticism is written from a compulsively external perspective. Nobody can just talk about what a cool movie Rear Window was... they have to talk about it in terms of Freudian and Lacanian theory. No action movie is left to shimmer in its brutal, goofy glory... it has to be couched in gender theory, discursive theories of violence, and analyses of symbolic colonialism. No punk album gets away without being compared, either positively or negatively, to some landmark indie outfit from the '80s.

Perhaps you can tell, from that paragraph, that I've done all this shit myself.

Mass media also faces the problem of presumed guilt, just on the basis of its being highly marketed and popular. This is particularly true of adaptations, which is why it's so dangerous to make a comic book movie these days. Fans of the actual comic book/graphic novel hate seeing their messiah's work marred and mutilated by an action flick director. Sequels have the same problem. Garfield: Tale of Two Kitties is out right now, and no matter how much an improvement it is, I doubt it will escape from the influence of its pitiful predecessor. Compare this with films like the Matrix sequels, which weren't given their due credit because the original was so FREAKING good.

These are obstacles in mass media criticism that I intend to confront. My background qualifies me to tear mass media apart, but it also gives me the secret ability to find its subtle strengths and accomplishments. This blog is going to be a critical tribute to mass media... I'm going to use it to comment positively on the little media packages that make up our everyday lives. The focus is going to be movies, music, and Internet memes, and I'll try to focus especially on media that's getting bashed, rejected, and shafted by reviewers and critics in the general community.

A friend said this idea was like a "pop culture apologist blog," and that's fairly accurate. Let's put it this way: I love mass media, and with this blog, I intend to meet it on its own terms and judge it according to its own rules and merits. At miksimum, media always gets the Benefit of the Doubt.


sooz said...

i love entertainment. looking forward to reading your stuff.


Kelly said...

I knew you'd join the dark side.