The Unbearable Burden of “Genius”

“Everyone’s a critic.” No, seriously, everyone’s a critic. I don’t mind honest critique, and I don’t mind people not liking my work, or the work of a favorite author or artist. These things are subjective, with a few criteria that the trained eye and mind might apply, but really even then it is rare for everyone so trained to agree. The art, literature, or film critic all serve their purpose as entertainment, as bulwarks against wasting our time on truly awful art and finally giving the artist either someone to carp about or motivation to improve their craft. These critics, even if they are not paid, even if I disagree with them, I have no quarrel with.

The group of critics I do have a problem with are the knee-jerk, always negative, bloggers, Facebook commenters and forum trolls that blast every film, every band, every television show and any kind of art that comes across their path. Every post is a submission to Cracked that halfway through turns into an angry screed against the offending movie, show or song. A submission, by the way, that will never be sent in. No to send their own work to be evaluated is too frightening to imagine.

So they post anonymously, or among Facebook friends that will tolerate their crap. I know a few of these people. They were like this before social media, so I cannot lay the blame entirely with the invention of that tool, though it exacerbates it. They have never tried to create something outside of an art class that they likely would not have taken had their high school or university not made them. They have never risked humiliation up on stage. They have never dared the frustration of a rejection letter.

Why should they, when they can live in their little bubble, enabled by friends who say “oh, Johnny’s just being Johnny?” When you are convinced of your genius, why risk anyone telling you otherwise?  If you have a semi-captive audience, why do anything any different?

Ultimately this is not that big a deal. This behavior is at worst, a mild irritant, one that right now I have to scratch. Maybe, however, we should scratch it more often. The people who do this is are our friends very often, and we indulge them. Occasionally it is okay to tell your friends they are being an annoying asshole, which, I suppose, is exactly what I am doing here. Are you reading this “Johnny?”


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