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What is a critic? Funny you should ask, I was just doing some reading on the subject myself. Here’s what Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, has to say: “A critic is a professional who communicates an assessment and an opinion of various forms of creative works such as art, literature, music, cinema, theatre, fashion, architecture, and food. Critics may also take as their subject social or government policy. Critical judgments, whether derived from critical thinking or not, weigh up a range of factors, including an assessment of the extent to which the item under review achieves its purpose and its creator's intention and a knowledge of its context. They may also include a positive or negative personal response.”
Pretty straightforward: a critic is someone who expresses their judgments about things. That makes criticism a genre practiced through various mediums, be they written, spoken, or painted on the walls of a cave. For instance, one might reasonably call the following passages pop culture criticism—
This is the worst time ever to be a celebrity. You’re gonna be finished. Everyone’s doomed. Michael Jackson has been dead for ten years and this nigga has two new cases. And if you haven’t watched that documentary… uh, then I’m begging you, don’t watch it. It’s fucking gross. I felt like HBO was sticking baby dicks in my ears for four hours straight. Really nasty shit. I don’t want to know all these things. Turns out, uh, Michael Jackson allegedly likes a long gander at the anus. They said he stares at people’s buttholes. That’s what they said. That’s how gross the documentary was.
I’m gonna say something that I’m not allowed to say. But I gotta be real. Uh… I don’t believe these motherfuckers. I do not believe them. But… let me qualify the statement. I… I am what’s known on the streets as a victim blamer. You know what I mean? If somebody come up to me like, “Dave, Dave, Chris Brown just beat up Rihanna.” I’ll be like, “Well, what did she do?” “Dave, Michael Jackson was molesting children.” “Well, what were those kids wearing at the time?”
I don’t think he did it. But you know what? Even if he did do it… You know what I mean? You know what I mean? Eh… I mean, it’s Michael Jackson. I know more than half the people in this room have been molested in their lives. But it wasn’t no goddamn Michael Jackson, was it? This kid got his dick sucked by the King of Pop. All we get is awkward Thanksgivings for the rest of our lives.
Or the following passages social criticism—
I hate guns, personally. I can’t stand ’em. Yeah, but I have several. I don’t want ’em, but I feel like I need ’em. Don’t forget where I live. I live in Ohio. And anyone that knows anything about Ohio knows that even the word “Ohio” is an old Native American word. It means, literally, uh, “land of poor white people.” And I don’t know what’s going on down here, but in my experience, uh, poor white people love, and, I mean, they fucking love… heroin. They can’t seem to get enough of it. I didn’t know what I was looking at at first. I was driving, like, “Why are all these white people so sleepy out here?” It’s really bad. Matter of fact, I was coming out of the nightclub the other night in Dayton, and I had parked my car in the alley, and no one was out. I didn’t have no bodyguards or nothing. I was home. I figured everything was fine. And as soon as I open my car door, all by myself, suddenly, uh, one of these heroin-addicted whites just pops out of a trash can. It scared the shit out of me. I screamed. “Aah!” And then, I realized it was a woman. She was fucked up. She was like… “Hey, man. Hey, man. Relax, okay? I’m sick, all right? I need some drugs, man. Please? I’ll suck your dick for five dollars, man.” I was like, “Ick… Two.”
Obviously, I’m joking. This opioid crisis is a crisis. I see it everyday. It’s as bad as they say. It’s ruining lives, it’s… destroying families. Sadly, you know what it reminds me of? Seeing it? Reminds me of us. These white folks look exactly like us during the crack epidemic. You know, it’s really crazy to see. And all this shit they talk about on the news about how divided the nation is, I don’t believe it. I feel like, nowadays, we’re gettin’ a real good look at each other. It’s wild, because I even have insight into how the white community must’ve felt watching the black community go through the scourge of crack… because I don’t care either. “Hang in there, Whites. Just say no. What’s so hard about that?” Remember when y’all said that to us? But it’s okay. There’s no grudges. Now you finally got it right. Once it started happening to your kids, you realize it’s a health crisis. These people are sick. They are not criminals. They are sick. Be that as it may, I’m armed to the teeth.
Or the following passages political criticism—
What the fuck is your agenda, ladies? Is– Is sexism dead? No, in fact, the opposite happened. I said it was gonna get worse, and they said I was tone deaf. But eight states, including your state, have passed the most stringent anti-abortion laws this nation has seen since Roe v. Wade. I… I told you. I told you. I’ll be real with you, and I know nobody gives a fuck what I think anyway. -Uh… I’m not for abortion. -Oh, shut up, nigga. I’m not for it, but I’m not against it either. It all depends… on who I get pregnant. I don’t care– I’ll tell you right now. I don’t care what your religious beliefs are or anything. If you have a dick, you need to shut the fuck up on this one. Seriously. This is theirs. The right to choose is their unequivocal right. Not only do I believe they have the right to choose, I believe that they shouldn’t have to consult anybody, -except for a physician… about how they exercise that right. Gentleman, that is fair. And ladies, to be fair to us, I also believe if you decide to have the baby, a man should not have to pay. That’s fair. If you can kill this motherfucker, I can at least abandon ’em. It’s my money, my choice. And if I’m wrong, then perhaps we’re wrong. So, figure that shit out for yourselves. I mean, really, uh, what the fuck are we doing? I can’t live in this new world you’re proposing.
All right. I’m going to put a pin in this, but I’ll tell you right now, I don’t know. But I think Trump has a better shot than a lot of people would like to think. I’m just saying, it all depends on how the left talks. The way we’re talking is not going to win the fucking ballgame. Donald Trump’s over on the right, grabbing handfuls of pussy. Joe Biden can’t even smell hair over here, fuck this side.
Whether you agree with these pieces of criticism or not, one thing is certain: they’re judgments derived from occasionally critical thinking that communicate assessments and opinions, and include positive or negative personal responses. They also just won their writer, Dave Chappelle, the Emmy for outstanding writing in a variety special. Congrats, Dave! I for one think it’s great to see an under-appreciated genre like criticism get some rare mainstream acclaim. You can watch his acceptance speech here:
September 20, 2020