Tuesday, January 24, 2012

"...Upon Review, The Opinion Seems To Indicate That I'm Too Critical..."

Never have made much of a secret of the fact that I don't care much for consultants.

In the interest of both full disclosure and fairness, though, I should clarify the cause of my contempt.

It's not the concept of consulting that I reject as much as the playing that gets done fast and loose with the definition of it.

Simply put, it's about knowledge as opposed to opinion.

It's one thing to become an expert on a subject, ideally as a result of years of being educated diligently on said subject, and then sharing that knowledge with those less educated on the subject.

It's another thing to offer up what amounts to nothing more than an opinion and try to drape it in a cloak of legitimacy with nothing more than a personal point of view and a business card that often includes, somewhere in the text, the term "...and associates".

Teachers, for example, who have advanced degrees in their chosen field, are, in my humble o, more than qualified to tell me what is, what was, what might be, what should be and what I might want to do about it.

The electrician who has gone to electrician school and understands, without having to check or recheck the schematics, whether the job calls for 110 or 220 is, in my view, somebody whose point of view is going to trump mine every single kilowatt hour of the day.

On the other hand, the layman who offers me counsel, perspective and/or advice without the benefit of any specific education and/or certification is, when you discount the drapery, offering me nothing more than their personal opinion.

And let's not let an opener even get close to the can of worms we could unleash on the subject of the silliness of being offered opinion, et al on subjects that are surely subjective.

Food. Politics. Anything and everything that might find its way into any given issue of People Magazine, Rolling Stone, TV Guide and/or Entertainment Weekly.

Subject list of subjective subjects subject to change, of course.

Despite any appearance that this rhetoric/rant might have been inspired by a lack of fiber in the morning's diet, it was, in fact, inspired by yet another piece I read online this morning from yet another "critic" who was "reviewing" the new Bob Dylan tribute album.

In the spirit of brevity, I'll spare you the text and just offer up the link, should you care to partake of this particular perspective for yourself.


Okay, first things first.

While this piece began as a little diatribe on the subject of "consultants", the focus here is on a different, but just as knotty,  branch of that same family tree.


And their first cousins, reviewers.

Although, upon review, I really don't know how to criticize the difference between the two.

Because I don't think there really is a difference.

Second, I don't know, and have never met, Melissa Maerz.

A little Google here and there and I learned this much about her.

LA Times staffer Melissa Maerz is to become Entertainment Weekly's lead music critic and will also contribute features to the TV department. One has to wonder whether Maerz didn’t see much potential for upward mobility at the Times after Randall Roberts recently took over the highly coveted pop music critic gig from Ann Powers.

Maerz has a pretty impressive resume. She was a senior editor at Rolling Stone as well as a senior editor at New York magazine, where she created and launched the mag’s now wildly popular blog Vulture.

Now, props being props, I'm sincerely respectful of Ms. Maerz's resume'. I am totally down with a righteous resume'.

I got a little of my own and wouldn't take kindly to being dissed about it.

But, in the context of what Ms. Maerz is offering here, resume matters less than zero.

Because music, like any art form, is....wait for it...subjective.

One's man's musical masterpiece is another's migraine.

And, not to put too fine a point on it, but as big a phenomenon as, say, Lady Gaga has become, I assure you that you can find, in any reasonable cross section of humanity, at least a few folks who would choose root canal over one more presentation of "p-p-p-poker face....".

The point of all this is this.

"Reviews" from "critics" are, from inception, foundationally flawed.

Because the "review" the "critic" offers is, by its nature, a matter of opinion.

Due respect to a depth of knowledge on any one singer or another, but there really is no such thing as an advanced degree in the songs of Lady Gaga.

Or Bob Dylan, for that matter.

The holder of the PhD. in Mayan culture can tell me that there's a pretty good chance we're going to be toast later this year and, while I might not like hearing it, I'm gonna have to give the thought some legitimate consideration.

The music "critic" who tells me that Carly Simon sounds like she's telling Bob Dylan to "man up" is, first, giving me nothing more than her personal reaction to hearing it.

And, second, for all intents and purposes, putting words in Carly Simon's mouth.

Of course, that's just my opinion.

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