I occasionally nose around in Roger Sutton’s blog. Who knows, someday I might read about something I wrote there?
Anyway, he’s been commenting on Harry Potter madness, as he should, being of the publishing world.
In this post he links to an op-ed in the NYTimes.
Sutton highlights this quote: "Our obsession with spoilers has a diminishing effect, reducing popular criticism to a kind of glorified consumer reporting and the audience to babies."
Here are two more: “And as you can see from my first memory of the cinema [being ten and shouting at the audience not to worry because E.T. isn’t dead], which was also my first act of criticism, I’m not above ruining an ending for others.”
And, the one that I find more pertinent than the one Sutton highlights: “People outraged by spoilers should avoid all reviews before going to the movies or reading the book they’ve waited so long for, because the fact is all criticism spoils, no matter how scrupulous.”
See, I’m not sure I know anymore what criticism is or does. The first quote I chose seems to indicate that the author of the op-ed piece, Nathan Lee, isn’t too sure either – unless it is an act of criticism to reassure the audience.
The second quote gets more to my general issue with this discussion. What’s the point of reviewing (A) the seventh book of an interrelated series and (B) Harry-Freaking-Potter of which everyone has already formed some opinion or other. All a decent review of the book could really say is, “Yep, she stays true to form,” or “Mmm. This one wasn’t up to snuff.” But even if it wasn’t up to snuff, would you, as a critic, expect someone who’s stuck with the first sixth to abandon the last one because of what you wrote?
The only point to a critique of HP7 I can see is to snag some of that immense HP readership for your publication.
But again to that last quote. Papa likes. “All criticism spoils.” Of course it does. It examines the work of art as work first, art second.