Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

16 February 2007

Some Thoughts on Literary Criticism

Today I was asked the question "What is the importance of literary criticism?" My answer was the following:

The job of literary criticism is to promote literature. To critique, judge, review and otherwise analyze and assess the form and content of literature in order that the public can know what is good and what is bad and so support the MARKET of literature. Criticism serves a specific function for the literary world, right? And isn't this its only function? To tell people what they should or should not go out and buy? To assess what does or does not fit with known forms?

Why do you analyze the things you analyze? Why do I write about film on my blog? The answer is, chiefly, so that other people will go see these films. By this of course I mean that there are a limited number of films that people can see (there is a limited amount of capital available to spend on films) and I wish to promote certain films over certain other films. Isn't criticism merely a capitalist system? Am I being far to cynical? Have I been reading way to much Foucault?
The lovely young woman who asked me this question actually liked my answer, so I thought I would share it on here since I seem to be sharing nothing on this blog of late.

P.S. I will finish my "Nominees" series as soon as I am done with Click.
P.P.S. I saw Poseidon today and I have a lot of thoughts about it:
A. I miss Shelley Winters
B. This movie was good. It was, in fact, almost exactly what I want from an action movie.
C. Though there was a near-palpable dearth of interesting dialogue, this movie was never, ever boring (unlike, say Casino Royale, Eragon, Blood Diamond, V for Vendetta, all of which at some point in the film started to make me fall asleep.)
D. Running time: 98 minutes. Perfect.
E. Richard Dreyfuss plays a gay character who functions as a regular guy. His sexuality is never an issue in the film and he isn't used as an easy laugh. It's excellent.
F. All of the people of color die in the film.
G. There are no Asian people in this film.
H. The representations of black men in the film are both stereotypical, de-sexualized figures. There are no black women in this film.
I. I was very invested in the characters in the film and genuinely felt that any of them could die at any moment.
J. Emmy Rossum is very pretty but should really, really, really take an acting class. Or five.
K. I love Freddy Rodriguez and I wish he worked a lot more.
L. Josh Lucas is hot.
M. Josh Lucas is hot.
N. All of the women (there are a total of three) in this film have exactly the same look: dark hair, gorgeous, small facial features, and they should all share a slice of pie.

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