To Criticize or Not to Criticize, That is a Question!

I often have this dilemma, is it okay to criticize? Often people ask me, how did I like a book, or a play, or a movie – and I find it very difficult to answer. First of all, if it is my opinion they are asking for, I can possibly try to answer quite diplomatically. My answer would also depend on who is asking me, and about what my opinion is sought for. But expressing an opinion and making a criticism of some work are two entirely different ball games. Opinions are personal, but criticism should be based on a solid foundation of theoretical and practical understanding of the craft. We often tend to confuse between the two and sometimes give too much weight to personal opinions as valued commentary of a piece of artistic or literary work. And this is where I feel awkward to express my opinions because I fear that my opinions may be considered as criticisms and be given more value than it is worth. Secondly, being involved in some artistic pursuits myself, I feel it is not for me to judge the creation of a fellow artist. For, when I put myself in their shoes, I know how hard it is to create something – how much love, dedication, passion and hard work has gone into it. I can never trivialize someones work, whatever others may feel about it. Yes, I do often see half baked, immature, ill conceived pieces of work being presented by many of my colleagues and friends. But I still find it very difficult to comment on them. But as friends and colleagues, they do ask my comments, ask my feedback. I can offer my feedback only as a fellow artist and never as a critic. Similarly, when I write about a play that I have seen or a book that I have read recently, I express only my opinion and not criticism.
The art (and maybe science) of criticism has developed considerably over the ages. Several philosophers and literary theorists (and I’ll not drop any names) have worked on this subject and several frameworks for criticisms are now in place. A true critic should arm himself/herself with this knowledge, as well as knowledge about the craft in question before making their commentary. A critic has his/her place in the world of art and literature. They help us appreciate the art form better and gives us clues to look for in the work to find hidden treasures. They also help the creators detect their flaws and improve their work. But good critics are hard to find. Most of them only express their opinions and just put in their ranking in letter grades or stars and claim themselves as critics. But in this day of social media marketing, it is the opinions of the social influencers that matters the most. I have no complaints about that, but we need to appreciate that these are opinions only and not criticisms. Do not base your appreciation of any work or any artist based on these opinions. If you need help, find a good critic and read their criticisms. Else form your own opinion.

3 thoughts on “To Criticize or Not to Criticize, That is a Question!

  1. Pingback: Best Indian Bloggers posts for weekend read!

  2. This is a wonderful piece here.
    Thanks to BlogAdda I discovered a good writer too.
    As a writer I have always longed for a free and frank blogger dost to guide me if Im slipping up in my writing some where. There are a few fellowbloggers who have the guts to come forth and express their opinions, their choices and I respect and look forward to their comments.
    But yes, a critic here has to stick to a bit of diplomacy too, so as not to break hearts..:D
    Thanks for sharing Sudipta..

  3. Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed browsing your blog posts. In any case I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again soon!

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