Monday, March 9, 2009

Bitch, PREASE.

So anyway. That movie "review" that I asked Laura to link me to? (please read March 4th Entry) I wouldn't say this to her face, but I thought it was reminiscent of, oh, say... mmm... PROPAGANDA. All the cons, none of the pros. I thought I'd send her a letter, no worries, it wasn't exactly hate mail but she'll probably consider it so. I critiqued a point she made and then described the route a proper critique should take, ie:
1. Point out positive aspects
2. Point out negative aspects
3. Suggest improvements to negative aspects in order to make the piece more effective.

I thought I'd post a copy of my letter. See if there's anything I did wrong or should have done but didn't, or y'know. Critique it. Don't bash like she did. Critique, plezburger chez! X3

Subject: As per your review of "Watchmen" - I implore your attentions to this matter.

Dear Miss Schlussel,

Greetings and hello from a college art student from Indiana. I was recently reading your review of "Watchmen" over the shoulder of a friend who was reading it aloud. Aside from a few misspellings, most people would probably take it for a decent review. I, however, took issue with it, not because of the content, but from the handling of the material and the style in which you write. I am not qualified to argue on content, as I have not seen and probably will not be seeing the movie based on the amount of gore described by friends who have seen it, but I feel I know the nature of an effective critique well enough to take issue with what you have written.

I fear I must regret to inform you first and foremost that your "review" was lacking in actual critique. I am sure you have heard of "bashing*" and are quite familiar with it as it is employed very heavily within your review of the movie "Watchmen." I searched online to make sure I was using the word "review" correctly, and I found the following definitions for the word "review":

-appraise critically; "She reviews books for the New York Times"; "Please critique this performance"
-an essay or article that gives a critical evaluation (as of a book or play)
-(slightly less applicable to this letter:) a periodical that publishes critical essays on current affairs or literature or art

Notice I have placed the words associated with "critic" in boldface. I have been a serious art student for about five years, and I have been through many visual art critiques within that time as well as critiques and revisions of writing in English and Literature classes. My apologies, but I was under the impression that a movie critic would do critiques, seeing as the words both have similar root parts. I was slightly ashamed and amazed to be found wrong.

That aside, I do have a serious critique of a point that occurs several times throughout your review. I do agree with one of your points. Parents who bring their children to an R-rated movie and have the children see what they are not meant to see at such a young age are obviously wrong to do so. However, it is not the fault of the movie's creators, because they were not creating the film with an audience containing children in mind, but it is the fault of the parents and their poor decisions to bring their young children to an R-rated film. Furthermore, however poor these decisions are, it is neither your place nor your right as a movie critic to begin name-calling. This is not becoming of a critique, nor is it praised in one. Rather, it has no place.

Thus, I fail to see how your constant obsession with kid-unfriendly movie moments are in any way relevant to the movie or review or anything connecting therewith. The Motion Picture Association of America views movies and gives them a rating of G through R, and sometimes X, based on content and whether it contains "adult" material that children should be aware of and restricted from viewing. R, "restricted" generally means that no child under 17 years of age should be admitted due to instances of sexual scenes, nudity, extreme gore and violence, etc. These are things that adults should be able to handle, but are not meant for children.

Do not place blame where it does not belong. This helps nothing. The true blame for this catastrophic mess of virgin eyes exposed to extramarital and gratuitous sexual intercourse is upon the parents of said virgin eyes. This is where you should have been directing your anger. There is such a plague of poor parenting in this generation it is absolutely condemnable, and your refusal to place blame in the hands of the guilty only perpetuates, subconsciously, parents who feel they are doing right by their children, when in reality they are destroying their children.

To move on to the actual critique, I will integrate what I have learned from critiques in the fine arts field. A critique involves keen appraisal of a piece in both its positive and negative aspects. In some cases it is near impossible to find a positive aspect. We are told to look harder and find some way in which the artist has used a technique, design principle or element or the materials well, or at least decently. There is always something that can be found, even if it is a tiny, well-arranged space or some decent handling of material.

Secondly, one will point out weaknesses. "This was not arranged well." "The artist used improper handling of materials, paint, tools, etc." "This movie used too many instances of gore-based violence to overcome weaknesses in a seemingly contrived plot."

After pointing out the weaknesses, one should, and will (if one is doing a proper critique, and not just bashing or pointing out pros and cons of a piece) suggest improvements to the weaknesses. For example, to continue with aforementioned hypothetical weaknesses, "Perhaps this could have been arranged like this to enhance the mood and have better color harmony." "The artist should have been using tool X instead of Y because of the delicacy and viscosity of material A." "Perhaps the movie should have been shot at angles that artfully hinted at the savage destruction of limbs in order to create more interest and rely less on gratuitous violence, instead of shooting them head-on, which would have better compensated for lack of solid plot."

It is not enough to have an opinion on something. I expect you hoped to rely on your audience's willingness to act like good little lemmings and brandish pitchforks and torches at the movie you so dearly bashed, not critiqued, in your "review". I will not be seeing the Watchmen, as I have no stomach for gore, and sadly the starving artist stereotype is true for many of us and I will be spending that money on boxes of mac and cheese. But your clear lack of regard for actual critique in any sense angered the true artist in my soul, and I had to write you and let you know.

Disregard this as hate mail if you see fit, although I assure you it was neither intended nor written to be. I have said my piece, and have done as my soul instructed I ought. Simply stating the negative aspects of the subject of review does little to completely assure the viewer or reader of your point of view. Sometimes it will alienate the reader and frustrate them. With this in mind, it is my profound wish that you think over, even for a little while, what I have written to you. Perhaps if you would keep in mind the basic requirements of a critique that I have described above while writing, you would find your words to have a greater effect as a complete, persuasive and helpful movie review and a wider base of readers. I would enjoy seeing you step up your game a notch, if you would accept a little advice from a simple, hungry art student who only wants the world to be a well-thought-out place, if only in writing and art.

Thank you for your time.
Sincerest wishes,
Kait Nurrenberg


But then again, why would she listen to a simple, hungry, but well-meaning art student when she's already God? X)

Forgive me my little chuckle. I'm afraid it was inevitable.


  1. Wow...amazing.

    If she replies, you should most definitely post it here too.

  2. Awesome. I loved your CRITIQUE. hahahaha.