5 votes

The dying art of the hatchet job

6 comments

  1. [5]
    TheJorro
    (edited )
    Link
    EDIT: I should add a disclaimer. I have written professional criticism for major publications like Entertainment Weekly. This is a... weird perspective. Hatchet jobs aren't good criticism, they're...

    EDIT: I should add a disclaimer. I have written professional criticism for major publications like Entertainment Weekly.


    This is a... weird perspective. Hatchet jobs aren't good criticism, they're purposefully meant to be excessively negative and injurious. It's even more evident when you read the Clive James article that this one selectively quotes. Defending a hatchet job comes across like the "it's just a prank bro" version of criticism.

    I'm sure we can all write paragraphs about how excessive public responses are, and how oversensitive and overzealous many fanbases are against any criticism at all... but this is about people that are purposefully trying to stir the pot and instigate high emotions. Hell, that Ted Lasso writer apparently finds it fun to do, and her piece is a pretty disingenuous and dishonest portrayal of the show. Seemingly on purpose.

    I can get trying to defend good criticism from excessively negative and hostile responses but why choose bad criticism to be the vanguard?

    EDIT: I should add that there is a way to make a good "hatchet job" article, that Zoe Heller one referenced by Clive James is actually a fun read in and of itself. But as a result it's understood that it's not a criticism of the work itself so much as it is a piece unto itself that is more about the discourse around the work. But then we can look at Clive James' own stated intentions in his opinion piece and realize that some hatchet job authors will do them for more self-aggrandizing reasons (to the point that I think his likening himself to Heller's intention is pretty egotistical and overinflated). The Ted Lasso article is a few steps down even more from there.

    5 votes
    1. [4]
      joplin
      Link Parent
      I have to wonder if the title was written by someone else, as is often the case with these things. In the final sentence, the author says: I think that sums up what they're trying to say pretty...

      I have to wonder if the title was written by someone else, as is often the case with these things. In the final sentence, the author says:

      It’s not that I long for an epidemic of gleeful brutality but I will always cherish the right of critics to express their hate, hate, hate in the ultimate service of what they love, love, love.

      I think that sums up what they're trying to say pretty well. Much of what they discussed was not hatchet jobs, but was thoughtful or even just basic criticism.

      5 votes
      1. [3]
        TheJorro
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        EDIT: I should add a disclaimer. I have written professional criticism for major publications like Entertainment Weekly. I was wondering that until I saw that Clive James article they leaned on,...

        EDIT: I should add a disclaimer. I have written professional criticism for major publications like Entertainment Weekly.


        I was wondering that until I saw that Clive James article they leaned on, which is also very specifically all about "hatchet jobs". So it's not just an editorial title thing, it's a main source in the article.

        I don't think that summation is accurate when the article is specifically referring to articles which are hatchet jobs and not good criticism. There are some good ideas here and there but framing it around hatchet jobs and bad criticism is what makes this a strange approach.

        I also realized that I totally cut away all my thoughts on that Ted Lasso article that begins the article but, suffice to say, it comes across to me as a purposefully disingenuous take on the show, designed to rile up fans of it. It sets out to have a perspective that's more about self-aggrandizement than a fair take on the show, and portrays quite a bit of the show's elements out of context while ignoring other things to paint things in the wrong light. And it's introduced here as the author finding the inevitable backlash "fun". This isn't the kind of article I'd hold up and say "critics are being treated unfairly" when it feels like bait.

        4 votes
        1. [2]
          EightRoundsRapid
          Link Parent
          It's what unHerd does. They cloak themselves in "respectability and thoughtfulness" but are relentlessly shite unless you're knee deep in Culture War bollocks....

          It's what unHerd does. They cloak themselves in "respectability and thoughtfulness" but are relentlessly shite unless you're knee deep in Culture War bollocks.

          https://brokenbottleboy.substack.com/p/the-weird-history-of-the-cow-site

          4 votes
          1. EscapedYank
            Link Parent
            Thank you for this link - a fantastic summary of UnHerd and the pile of shite views they represent.

            Thank you for this link - a fantastic summary of UnHerd and the pile of shite views they represent.

            1 vote
  2. joplin
    Link
    This was awesome! Thank you for posting it. It pretty much sums up what I was trying to say in the thread about What's something you feel is unfairly criticized?. I thought this was pretty funny:...

    This was awesome! Thank you for posting it. It pretty much sums up what I was trying to say in the thread about What's something you feel is unfairly criticized?.

    I thought this was pretty funny:

    After Angelica Jade Bastién caught flak for shredding the generally well-received new Candyman movie, another writer responded: “one of the frustrating things about this era of didactic capitol b Black art is the idea that serious criticism amounts to some kind of disloyalty.”

    Last night we watched the episode of The Other Two where Brook has to be on a panel at a "women's conference" and ends up going on a rant about how women can be feminists, but can still suck. It was pretty much the same sentiment as that quote above.

    4 votes