“Only a critic that submits to fanboyism can match his readers’ earnestness, grasping the pinnacles and depths experienced by us, the fans ditching school to camp out for concert tickets, the people who listen to music for fun.”
Some quick, jumbled thoughts on this old piece:
Later in the essay, Shtuhl concludes that the only way to compromise between distance and unabashed fanboyism is the takedown, the piece where you write about how your fav band’s disappointed you. It’s strange though, because the takedowns I remember, ones that people talk about, have mostly come from Pitchfork. And when these takedowns happen, the main reader criticism is that the author must not have been a fan, they must have been asking as Pitchfork critic first (for some reason, people always refer to reviews as from Pitchfork, as if from a giant machine instead of from individual writers. which is also why people seem to freak out when a track review contradicts the LP review). Readers send emails that say things like: “they obviously never listened to their last album, Pitchfork just hates things other people like (there’s the all-encompassing SITE VOICE again), they don’t know what they’re talking about because they didn’t know that [obsure band fact].”
And not being a fanboy is fine, preferable I think. Disappointment is a result of fanboyism: you had expectations, personal expectations, and they weren’t met, so you were let down. But if this was the result of true fanboyism, then, as I’ve said earlier, I think you’d be obligated to work through it, make excuses, and move on. And obviously those are all things critics shouldn’t do.
Also, the main example Orr uses throughout the piece is Radiohead (and Pitchfork’s steady fanboyism of), but I feel like so many more examples exist in hip hop criticism (Clipse, Lil Wayne most recently).
Finally, while looking up some old reviews, I noticed Marc Hogan wrote a lot of the most contentious takedowns…and his blog is now invite-only. Coincidence? If you grabbed a slice of pizza with Marc, as I have, you’d find out he’s one of the nicest dudes around.