Style has a preview of "Avenue Q" this week. I'm looking forward to this show, as much because it'll be the first production I'll be seeing in the new Carpenter Theatre. Should be fun.
Many weeks ago, Grant Mudge posted some links to blog posts by Isaac Butler. Butler may be mildly familiar to Richmonders because he directed Clay McLeod Chapman's "Volume of Smoke" at the Firehouse a few years ago. In these posts, Butler asks some great questions and makes some good points about the role of critics. The series is available in multiple parts; if you are interested you can read them all here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.
Going to Butler's blog was a little like falling down the rabbit hole for me in that it led to one of those classic experiences of clicking on link after link following the trail of other people's thoughts. One place it led was another series of posts on critics on the blog of James Comtois that, while focused on movie critics, also was fascinating reading. (Three parts to that one, here: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.)
Finally, Comtois linked to critic Roger Ebert's post about the rules for critics. That one is going to be added to my browser Favorites so I can refer back to it. The downside for that one, though, is that it doesn't really deal with how theater critics are different from movie critics, and there are some distinct differences.
There were many choice nuggets in all of these words about critics. I may dredge some up from time-to-time but I'd be curious about any responses to the following one in particular. It was written in reference to the "thumbs-up, thumbs-down" scale that Siskel and Ebert used:
"When push comes to shove, one of the jobs of a popular film critic is to ultimately let the reader know if he or she recommends the movie or not. In other words, a review should answer the reader's question, 'should I see this or not?'"
Several times in the past, editors have talked to me about a rating scale, either a 5-star system, or a letter grade, or a Thumbs-up, or something similar to the "Buy It, Burn It, Trash It" scale that the guys at Sound Opinions use. The opposition to such scales is usually along the lines of them being reductive, they don't give the reader credit for figuring out based on the details in a review whether it is worth seeing or not.
What do you think?