I’m both awesome and sucky at being a critic.
Awesome, because I’m good at seeing the flaws and the merits of a given work, and explicating them simply.
Sucky, because I’m a little too good at forgiving the flaws. If I enjoy something enough, I can forgive a lot. I can forgive the egregious plot hole in “Seveneves”, despite the fact that it annoyed the hell out of me for the first 500 or so pages of the book, for example.
I tend to try to view things in the context in which they were created – I don’t judge an Eighties sitcom on its gender role assumptions the way I’d judge one made today; I try to ignore the racism in 19th century (and earlier) novels (with mixed success); and so on. There are a few things I draw the line on, but in general, I have higher expectations of works created closer to the present time or day.
I also try to judge things not by an objective standard of artistic quality, but instead by the range of their particular form (i.e. I don’t compare a sitcom episode to “Apocalypse Now” or “Macbeth”). I’m quite comfortable with something being a solid but unexceptional example of its kind (yes, “Watchmen” is a better comic than say, “Marvel 1602”, but they both have their charms), which is a useful ability if you watch American sitcoms.
Experience has made me expect more of some creators than others, and so I hold them to higher standards – I expect more of Dan Harmon than Chuck Lorre, or of Kieron Gillen than Dan Slott, or of Jo Walton than Mike Resnick – but than doesn’t stop me from enjoying at least some of the works of all these people. (NB. “The Big Bang Theory” still sucks, but I enjoy “Mom”.)
I like to like things, in short.
(Thank you, Miles Stokes, for that wonderful phrase.)
And that’s going to be with this blog is about from now on. I’ll be writing about things I like and why I like them. Probably with occasional outbreaks of more personal stuff, but mostly just fansquee. Be seeing you.