Critiquing Critics

Hello All! Sorry for the delay in posts. I’ve been working on sound design for a production of the Maids. More posts will follow shortly. Here is an article I wrote back in November 2009 to tide you over. I think is very appropriate for this blog and I hope you enjoy!



I was walking around Barnes and Noble today when I ran across a book by talk show host Glenn Beck called Arguing with Idiots. I took one look at the title and thought that it referred perfectly to the modern media echo chamber that we live in.

When I was informed that the book was about how to argue with “idiot” liberals, I thought it even more ironic. The only people talking in this so-called debate are the talking heads.

We are suppose to be living in a post-modern age where anyone with an Internet connection can spout his or her unique opinion so, why do we resort to investing our opinions in these critics?

We don’t have to listen to the Glenn Becks, Keith Olbermanns, or even Larry Kings anymore yet, we continue to.


Cultural content is growing at an exponential rate. The overflow of information has decreased the influence of specified individual media while increasing the power of critics.

The media as a whole is in a revolutionary period of consolidation and personalization. Structures of power are being reformed, redefined, and in some ways reinforced due to this new wave of cultural content.

The emergence of a digital culture has created the opportunity for everything and anything to be digitized into coded information. The Information age requires a system of filtration and categorization where people are paid to tell you what to consume.


Critics have become necessary to fish through these large pools of data. No individual has time to go through the thousands of blogs, hundreds of cable channels, and countless newspapers to find the cultural content they are looking for.

Like the town criers before them, pundits and the news media as a whole tells us what to consume as media users.

“Dealing with the information overflow results in feeling overwhelmed and having no sense of time. In fact, there truly is no time, except for our collective construction of a relationship to the ever-present change,” states media critic and professor Victoria Vesna.

Glenn Beck can tell a conservative user about the latest music video that enrages cultural conservatives and the newest chapter in the gay marriage controversy.

Websites and even television shows are telling you what your daily dose of media should be, whether it’s a political blog like Politico and The Huffington Post or an entertainment site like Funny or and College Humor.

Individuals are so overwhelmed with a choice in what to consume that we are handing over that choice to critics. We are creating media that tells us what media to take in.


We as consumers do not want to wade through the endless stream of content. In our “fast track” environment with the “get it done today” attitude of modernization, consumers do not have the patience to compare five newspapers or watch all three nightly news broadcasts.


Journalism elitists will point that this is the folly of the next generation of news audiences. The apathy of the modern public towards news has led many older journalists to say that people or corporate bodies care less about the important issues today.

This claim fails to recognize the overwhelming nature of our current media market. Information abundance can leave people jaded and in many ways not willing to have the patience to read/watch one piece of media fully.

The more content that is available, the less one is likely to examine individual content thoroughly.

Herbert Simon wrote, “What information consumes is…the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention, and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it,” in Computers, Communications and the Public Interest.


While convenience and a sense of hopelessness have turned some people to taking these sources and critics absolutely, people also want some objectivity because as a whole humanity is just starting to react to post modernism.

We are in a period of time where we interact and react to the ideas of post modernism in our every day lives. The exponential increase in cultural content has presented us with a real post modern setting.

The idea of an endless multiplicity of perspectives was an abstract thought thirty years ago, but if one needs to see that idea in action all one has to do is open a web browser and browse the limitless halls of blogs, social networks, and youtube channels that are available.


It is a daunting task but it presents itself everyday when we type that “www” into the browser. We are literally trying to navigate the global mind. It is an intimidating environment especially to those who are just looking up the number for a local pizza place.

Among many groups it can reach the point that people will swear allegiance to critics or particular websites so that they can rise above the Internet’s endless ether.


This submission of choice is voluntary but it puts the public in an increasingly compromising position. People are looking to the media to tell them what to consume.

Media corporations and its interests whether business or political have the opportunity to grasp the cultural mindset of millions.


The business world already controls the majority of media; the next logical step is controlling the media that tell us what media to consume, some of which they already control.

The framers who filter information into a particular ideology have the power. Cultural forms are therefore not what shape our identity but the voices of filtration around us.


People invest a lot of faith into critics. Most people would probably trust Roger Ebert’s opinion on a movie.

If one looks at the political and news critics, you will get that same blind trust. Libertarian radio host Alex Jones has a cult of personality around him that hangs on his every word.

Rush Limbaugh’s influence is so strong he was able to speak at CPAC on national television. We have put a lot of trust into personalities that are controlled by higher powers.

People who subscribe to certain critics/websites surrender their own choice so that those entities can make it more convenient for that individual to consume other forms of media but in doing so we are leaving ourselves open for manipulation and deception.


Do you really think people like this, should be telling us what to think?


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