Criticizing the Critics

Once upon a time, I got so appalled by reading ill-informed, ignorant arts criticism in the press that I considered making a ‘zine dedicated to criticizing the critics. I wanted to treat their critiques to the same scrutiny they dealt to the works they reviewed. Well, I never made that ‘zine, but now that this “internet” thing seems to be taking hold, I might use it as a forum for that “criticizing the critics” idea. Here’s a brief first stab.

“Thematically, The Incredibles is basically Ayn Rand for seven year olds.”
–Bob Chipman

At first glance, this little quip by Bob Chipman (the geeky “MovieBob” guy, not the athletic major league pitcher) is clever and funny. However, if you actually think about it for, say, five seconds, you see that it’s shallow and wrong. MovieBob clearly doesn’t have any more than a faint knowledge of Ayn Rand and didn’t pay much attention to the actual plot of “The Incredibles.”

The “Supers” of the film do not “go on strike” like the movers & shakers of Ayn Rand’s opus. They are forced into retirement. And when the situation calls for it, they help those in need rather than neglecting them as would fit with Rand’s “rational self-interest.”

Maybe I’m wrong to assume that someone like MovieBob (if you’ve not seen his videos, imagine Comic-Book-Guy from “The Simpson’s”) would know that many of the super-hero tropes that “The Incredibles” plays upon pre-date Rand’s major works by nearly thirty years. But the characters in “The Incredibles” do the exact opposite of what Rand would have scripted. While I’m utterly shocked that MovieBob is so ignorant of both things he’s comparing in that quip I quoted above, maybe that’s just me stereotyping him as a “fat comic-book nerd who’s read some Ayn Rand” without actually knowing him as a person. He doesn’t seem to know shit about comic books or Ayn Rand. But he still made his little quip. Let’s call it even.

I must admit, I mostly despise Ayn Rand’s philosophy. I’m not saying “The Incredibles” is a brilliant film (it’s kind of fun), but calling it “Ayn Rand for seven year olds” is cheap, wrong, and shallow. I wouldn’t even bother calling MovieBob’s quote out as garbage if it weren’t for the fact that, for just under five seconds, I thought it was clever. Then I actually thought about it slightly and realized it was bullshit and not even close to accurate.

Posted by David van Wert on in Rant Leave a comment