Bob Bly Direct Response Copywriter Official Banner

What”s a Critic to Do?

January 7th, 2008 by Bob Bly

Playwright Edward Albee, author of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf,” has some harsh criticism for critics.

“Some critics cater to existing taste,” says Albee. “What they should be doing is trying to improve it.”

It seems to me that opinions as to the function of critics vary, and there are basically 3 schools of thought as to what a critic should do:

A) Let you know what he, the critic, thought of the movie, play, book, or record.

B) Help you determine whether you’d like it and should spend your time and money to read, see, or hear it.

C) Help you improve your tastes so you CAN enjoy a higher level of art (as Albee seems to think).

Which do you think is the critic’s role — A, B, C, or something completely different? And why?


This entry was posted on Monday, January 7th, 2008 at 10:22 am and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

26 responses about “What”s a Critic to Do?”

  1. Kevin said:

    I believe the critic ought to elaborate on why he or she liked or disliked the piece in question and try to educate the reader of the critique to elevate the reader’s knowledge. This way, the reader may judge the critic’s expertise and whether the critique is credible, as well as whether to spend money and time on the specific entertainment. In this way, all three objectives might be achieved.

  2. Kristi Holl said:

    I think a good critic accomplishes all three objectives, at least most of the time. I have found, though, that I have to find (usually by trial and error) the critics that I most often agree with before I will spend money to see what they recommend. Tastes vary so much. There are certain critics who recommend books and movies, and I know I will love them too. Other critics will recommend books and movies with a 5 Star rating, and I nearly always hate what they’ve chosen. I’ve learned which critics I can trust to steer me to things I will personally enjoy.

  3. Joel Heffner said:

    According to the dictionary a critic is “a person who expresses an unfavorable opinion of something.” My own thought is that a critic is meant to be interesting so that folks will want to read the newspaper or view the TV review.

  4. Stacey Mathis, Copywriter for the Parent Market said:

    I think a critic’s job is to (a) analyze and interpret so that we have more insight, and (b) be a filtering mechanism, merely b/c most people don’t have unlimited money, time and energy to see, read, eat and imbibe EVERYTHING and visit EVERYWHERE.

  5. Lori said:

    Frankly, I think a critic should do all three. I think there’s a fine line they walk, however, between what they want to say and what sells in the media. I’ve never been a fan of pandering to numbers and ratings, yet isn’t that how critics gain their celebrity – through that very controversy that sells?

    I think Tess Gerritsen ( has a handle on it. She posted a quote this week on her blog about critics, which I think every struggling writer should keep in mind.

  6. Tracey Minella, Copywriter said:

    Having previously written a restaurant review column for three years on Long Island, I think A and B are a critic’s job. If C results from it, all the better. But taste is so personal. Who is to say that anyone’s taste needs to be “improved”?

    My job was to give you the information and my opinion, but only you can decide if the place suits your current taste–or if it sounds like something different you may want to try.

    I think critics need to be credible. For example, I never reviewed a seafood place because I don’t like seafood. To have done so would have been inappropriate.

    If a credible critic delivers enough detail in an entertaining way, readers can make an informed decision. (And, by the way, “Two Thumbs Up–Way Up!” is NOT sufficient!)

    Why can’t that chicken and ribs lover just enjoy his meal without someone trying to get him to eat caviar?

  7. Lou Wasser said:

    Here’s a cautionary tale about critics.

    Two years ago, my friend Fred and I had just finished our fifth class in an advanced screenwriting course offered by a noted Hollywood screenwriter at UCLA Extension.

    In keeping with our weekly routine, I was all set to drive Fred home. But he was so excited by the encouragement our instructor had given him about his screenplay (a thriller set in Europe), he insisted on first stopping for a celebratory drink at a local bar.

    I had to get up the next morning, and since I don’t drink and drive,I begged off.

    Unfortunately, the night didn’t end too well for Fred. He called the next morning to tell me that, upon leaving the bar, he was held up at gunpoint.

    The robber had demanded Fred’s wallet as well as all the cash he had on him.

    The robber then looked at the briefcase Fred was carrying, and asked him what was in it.

    “Please don’t take that,” Fred begged. “It can’t possibly be of any use to you. The only thing in that briefcase is a screenplay I wrote for a class at UCLA. And my computer just crashed after I printed it out. It may be the only copy I have.”

    “I’ll take the briefcase too,” said the robber.

    Although Fred felt lucky to get away with his life, he was mortified over the probable loss of one full year’s creative work.

    Needless to say, the police were unable to help him.

    About a month later, Fred called me to tell me the very unusual end to this story.

    He had just that morning received a package in the mail with no return address. The package contained the screenplay that was stolen from him. (Obviously there was no money, credit cards or wallet in the package).

    As he thumbed through the screenplay, Fred noticed some unusual things. Some of the pages were bent at the corner, others were paper-clipped, and yet others bore what seemed to be coffee stains.

    Whoever stole his screenplay that fateful night seemed to have taken the trouble to read it.

    And here’s the amazing thing. About five pages into the screenplay, there began a series of red-penciled comments — comments which appeared throughout the entire work.

    “Delete this scene,” “unrealistic dialogue,” “more motivation needed here,” “this character needs more development…,” etc.

    Fred was appalled. Then after I calmed him down, I even persuaded him to feel a bit amused.

    Why, we both wondered, would a common thief go to this trouble?

    Together we reasoned through the entire series of events step by step.

    Here’s the best explanation we came up with:


  8. Corwin said:

    We all immediately recognize the flat snoot, wrinkled face, and large expressive eyes of the loveable Pug. The Pug breed’s roots can be tracked back to Imperial China in 700 B.C., during the time of Confucius, when the breed wasan assassination attempt by Spain. Over time, pugs have been the favored breed or both royals and celebrities—from Napoleon and Queen Victoria to Andy Warhol and Rob Zombie.

  9. mapquest driving directions said:

    I think that the three answers A, B, and C are all these and these three make up sufficient arguments for the meaning of criticism. This way, the reader may judge the critic’s expertise and whether the critique is credible, as well as whether to spend money and time on the specific entertainment.

  10. Swayer Scott said:

    Thanks for providing this section on the criticism. It is very informative. cconpalm It is a critical, analytical summary and integration of the up-to-date knowledge of a topic. It should have a particular focus or theme to organize.

  11. masha said:

    The flat snoot, wrinkled face and large expressive eyes of the charming Pug are immediately recognised. The roots of the Pug breed can be tracked back into Imperial China in 700 B.C. when the breed was an attempt by Spain to assassinate. In the past, pugs have been the favourite breed of Napoleon, Queen Victoria, Andy Warhol and Rob Zombie, or the royals and celebrities of both. free logo design

  12. aaska said:

    We have the best service in the US market with your favourite brands from arquiste coupon codes

  13. asas said:

    We have the best service in the US market with your favourite brands from arquiste coupon codes in the US

  14. said:

    It seems that is a great site for people who are ready to receive valuable data. Here you will find everything you need to stop making mistakes.

  15. Mark said:

    We can definitely say that too great writing the way you have provided returned helps in creating the best content is helpful for us who are blank about Playwright Edward Albee, author of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. clipping path company

  16. sweet candy said:

    This is a very educational and helpful blog post through which I have learned a lot and I would like to commend you for this excellent work which I consider to be very useful for me and other readers, please continue, thank you. lewdle

  17. Rios Cosmetics said:

    Stunning face scrub and body scrub are offered by Rios, a great new multi brand store The shop wants to bring its customers satisfied with their top notch face scrub goods Their body scrub pakistan is perfect for your needs, fulfilling your demands With the best scrub for oily skin in Pakistan Rios meets all your needs.

  18. sharase said:

    There are many different types of people in the world, and they come in all shapes and sizes. Some people are happy to just sit back and enjoy the scenery as they drive along. Others are more interested in subway surfers pointing out every little flaw they see, no matter how big or small. Anyone can be a critic, but not all critics are bad. Some critics are just trying to share their honest opinions with the rest of the world, while others may have a hidden agenda that they’re trying to push. Either way, there is a big job that needs to be done when it comes to critiquing movies and other forms of art. The critic must first decide what kind of movie they’re reviewing before getting started. Then, they must choose a method by which to review it.

  19. Kathleen Perkins said:

    A general pot is finalized for the hopeful attitude for the citizens. The skills of the keep warm instant pot are fit for the offers. The jumper is done for the use of the options. The skills are finalized for the room for the tings for the approval of the true picture for humans.

  20. jhon set said:

    They charge a monthly subscription fee and allow you to check out their huge collection of movie content. ???? ??? ??

  21. Giovanni Crosby said:

    Just WOW!!! dino game

  22. evan said:


  23. Rios Cosmetics said:

    Rios is a multi brand store that provides amazing eye liner and the best eye liner products. The store aims to provide satisfaction through high quality products like the latest eye liner Their eye liner is perfect and just what you need Rios fulfills your every demand, with their eye liner and related products.

  24. zahritsharqia said:

    ??? ?????? ??? ?????? ????????? ???? ????? ?????? ????? ?????? ??????? ?????? ?????? ??? ?????? ???? ????? ????? ??????? ???? ???? ?????? ?? ??? ???? ?? ????? ??????? ?? ???? ????? ???????? ?? ??????? ?? ?????? ?? ???? ???? ???? ?????? ???? ???? ??? ????? ????????? ?? ????? ?????? ??? ???? ??????? ???? ???? ??????? ????? ??????? ??? ???? ????? ??????? ?? ???? ????? ???????? ??? ??? ??? ????? ??? ??? ?????? ?? ???? ??? ???? ?? ????? ??????? ??? ???? ???? ??????? ?? ????? ?????.

    ???? ??? ??? ???????

  25. Mike Rooney said:

    Your blog provided us with valuable information. I am looking forward to read more blog posts from here keep it up!!T Birds Jacket Grease

  26. Andrew Mark said:

    Excellent article. Very interesting to read. I really love to read such a nice article. Thanks! keep rocking.
    T Bird Jacket

Leave a Reply