Everybody’s A Critic

Adam Waytz argues that the Internet has knocked cultural critics off their perch:

Albums and movies “leak” far in advance of their due dates, entire libraries of music or television shows can be torrented and hoarded in a matter of hours, and as quickly as terabytes of .mp3s and .avis are transmitted, so too are all of our opinions on the media we are consuming. All of this means critics no longer have exclusivity, priority, or even, necessarily, expertise.

Expertise requires that, compared to the average person, one has a deeper understanding of a topic, a more well-researched opinion on the topic, and privileged information on the topic. The ability for anyone with a fast wireless connection to obtain an entire Lou Reed discography or the entire compendium of Get a Life episodes means that anyone can dig deep into a particular body of work. Access to carefully written blog posts about the true meaning of Inland Empire and the hidden samples used in Paul’s Boutique (not to mention access to Wikipedia) means that research is easy. Music and film piracy means that priority access has become a thing of the past.