I might be getting into the unusual zone with this post. I used to do some chit-chaty, rambling on something abstract and sometimes doesn’t make any sense at all. However, there are lots of things happened involving people I know recently that makes me think, especially about a concept that we used to know as ‘criticism.’ Apparently, although I’m living in an era where criticism is something that considered necessary, yet it’s still hard for some people that I know – especially my fellow Indonesian – to take criticism with a clear mind.
People love to criticize, yet in my opinion, they don’t really know what they’re talking about. Looks like every one is trying hard to be smart these days. While I think that it’s always a good thing; trying to be smart, but it would be nonsense if people do it for an affirmation from society purpose only. You want to be smart because you need to be one, not because you want people to look you up as a smart-ass. I used to rant about these every-one-is-trying-to-be-too-genius things on my previous posts, but it is not until now that I found this phenomenon is getting more serious and ridiculous than ever. I’m not saying that any individual should keep their curiosity and stop asking questions. In fact, I love it when someone is putting aside his/her prejudice and try to see new things from a different possibility.
Some society, even the one who got labelled as a civilized, are having no clue about things that they used to criticize. They simply having no clue, let alone understand the context. Looking at these kind of debate is like sitting in front of two persons talking with different languages, without an ability to understand the opposite. No one understands another. The other typical scenery is while one person understand the other, the other is having a difficulty to understand the opponent, yet this obtuse one has a strong faith that he/she is the one whose opinion is right.
To criticize something, means that one must grab certain knowledge about something itself. The knowledge could lay on any level such as basic or advance. It also could be about everything: movies, books, politics, laws. Simply anything. The other important element about critics is that critics doesn’t have to be skilled on subject they are criticizing, they just have to know the ideal knowledge about that subject. For example, if someone is trying to have a good criticism about music, doesn’t mean that he/she has to be a skillful musician. But, he/she must know or at least familiar with the knowledge about how a good music should be. Then again, to say that a person can’t make a criticism in music because he/she are not having a proper skill to play music is simply wrong. How many times had you heard people complaining about critics with statement like,
‘Well, they don’t know how hard it is to play guitar, they can’t even play a simple notes yet they have some strong criticism about … (fill the blank with a band or a song), therefore, they’re not qualified as critics.’
Or maybe this one,
‘Making a movie is not a piece of cake. These critics who hates this movie don’t know what are they talking about. I believe none of them are capable to make a short scenes, yet they talked like they know everything.’
The truth is – this is only my opinion based on my experience and knowledge – to be a good critic, you aren’t required to master those hard skills, but you need to have a proper knowledge about an ideal state in order understanding things you’ve been criticizing all along. In other words; you don’t have to be a good director to be a movie critic, nor that you have to be a marvelous musician to criticize some music. What you need to have is a knowledge about an ideal movie or music in your mind. And that is what critics meant to be: to deliver an ideal opinion about something, to make it constructively stronger, hence to improve something to be better from time to time.
That said, being a critics is not easy. Sure, it might be something considered as easy, especially when people judging critics as persons who have an advantage on their idealism. Being critics seems like you would never violate your own values, because you’ve been build your work based on your values.
Now if we take a peek on critics culture on some society, (I’ll take Indonesia as an example, since I’ve been living here for all my life) like I said before, some culture is currently having difficulties to handle criticisms. Not only that they can’t accept criticism, but also they don’t know how to criticize. If you imagine it as something that is complicated, it because it is. It’s hard for some Indonesian to take criticism, yet it’s very easy for them to criticizing in a very wrong way. There are some elements that have to be considered when you attack someone or something, and when those who attacked by criticisms are defending themselves, the other party should respect that, but doesn’t mean that they stop criticizing. In an unhealthy scenery, people are getting offended easily once they got criticized. Sometimes it’s not even about them, but their favorite football team or their favorite movies for example. A good, reasoned arguments is crucial on every criticism. Without them, you’re running in circles. You’re doing nothing except wasting your time.
It’s complicated, but it’s fixable. I’m not saying that I’m the only one who acknowledge this thing. In fact, I feel like I have to learn so much to take criticism and to deliver a proper one. The biggest problem in our society as we know it, is an immature culture consisting about our fear to the unknown; to some knowledge that might rip our beliefs; our blind possessions to something uncertain; and our tendency to defend something we love without analyze it first.