Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Critical cartoon

What does being a critic entail? It's a question that critics ask themselves often, yet its answer is hard to pin down—even for review-writing wordsmiths. One might look to philosophical texts to answer these kinds of soul-searching questions, but sometimes a random source provides surprising insight. In the 2007 Pixar film Ratatouille, the film's character Anton Ego (a dour food columnist) offers a short and sweet answer to our complex query:

"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. But there are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defense of the new."

A true critic (a non-digital one) couldn't have said it better.