The word Critic comes from the Greek word "kritikos" meaning a person who offers reasonable judgement or analysis, interpretation, or observation. Criticism means democratic judgement. The term critic most frequently refers to literary or art criticism where the scholar attempts to understand the aesthetics of the subject in depth. We have comes across the saying that everyone is a critic but does this hold true all the time. Everybody, in a democratic country, has the right to voice their opinion but this cannot be taken as a critical view point. We may be critical in our judgement but if the viewpoint is not supported by rational judgement and in depth knowledge of the domain the critique will only remain an opinion.
Nature of Work
A person with sound knowledge of the subject, necessary education required to supplement his knowledge giving his/her comments on the subject which holds importance can be called a critic. His/her judgment or analysis should be credible. The job is interesting as one can speak out anything that is on his mind without being answerable to anyone. Critics require tremendous amount of knowledge in the field he/she gives his/her judgments and comments on. They have to keep themselves abreast with the demand of the times and understand the changes to give their critical viewpoint. Critics require a disciplined taste, historical and theoretical knowledge and a deep understanding of author's, filmmaker's, or painter's complete work. It should bring something to the body of art except for their instinctive opinion on the cultural object. Sometimes the review is done by a critic without passing any judgement on the work because one of the objectives of a review is to initiate an intelligent conversation about the work that is being reviewed. This conversation can carryon for days, years, or centuries. Readers after reading the critic's writing should emerge knowledgeable than they were before reading the article. Critics are superior minds and those who come in contact with them get enlightened their commentaries.
There is something called a constructive criticism in the critic's vocabulary. This is a form of communication where a person tries to correct the behavior of another person in a diplomatic way. This can sometimes be useful for the artist because he/she will be able to recognize what is poor or slapdash in their work. In the process the critic might be harsh and judgmental on the person and his work.
What do critics write about?
Broadly, critics can be categorized as Literary Critic, Art Critic, and Food Critic.
- Literary Critic review literary work and presents a criticism of the work.
- Art Critics which encompass Films Critics, Theatre Critics, Music Critics, Dance Critics rate and analyse different forms of art.
- Food Critics visit food joints and restaurant to give their comments on food and beverages that's being served. They exude from their experience and learning what are the drawbacks and the positive aspects of a work. And the best thing about the job is that they are paid for voicing their opinions. For instance, food connoisseur gets paid to have food and just pass on his judgement on the taste of it.
Only passing the judgement wont help, critics should be able to decipher good from mediocre so as to guide the audience or customer. Critics watch films, dance shows, music concert, read novels, fiction, attend exhibitions to point out the positive and the negative side of the art in his article.
A critic has to have passion and knoweledge of the subject, for one to be regarded and taken note of as a critic. Artists look forward to pass the critical eye of the critic and be accepted as an artist.
As the definition goes, a successful critic needs to offer reasonable judgement, analysis or interpretation on a given creation. For the judgement to be incisive, the critic needs to have two important attributes - a complete understanding of the domain, and objective, impersonal reasoning skills. Generally, people with knowledge of a domain, become biased in their judgments and tell the author or the artist how he should write a book or perform. It is very difficult for a human being to have knowledge of the subject and to be objective in his approach. A criticism needs to steer clear of personal prejudices and preferences. If one wants to become a critic, whether a book critic, a food critic or an art critic he/she has to know his craft well. For this purpose a university degree in the subject might help him/her out of the situation.
If being a book critic is your aim then a professional course in the domain where you will be taught how to write fiction as well as non fiction can help. Then one can go about reading all the books he/she can lay his hands on, assessing its strengths and weaknesses. There are a few points that a book critic has to keep in mind when he analyse a book. These are characterization, plot, subplot, narration, dialogue, will the plot interest the public at large, does the author maintain a style throughout the book, is it interesting and informative.
The sublime knowledge of human psychology and the effect of the external media on it is a form of knowledge that is essential to a critic. Although the lower echelon try to express their own ideas in theory, it is essential to have a general understanding to be a successful critic.
Discipline, desire and dedication are the driving forces for a critic as well as for a writer.
- Khalid Mohammed, Taran Darshan, Nina Kamad are some of the established movie critics.
- Among the literary critics mention must be made of Subir Dhar, Amitav Dey.
- Nondon Bagchi and Vir Sanghvi can be named among the food critics in India.
Professional Courses & Colleges, Institutions and Universities
There being no institutes or universities which offer a course in criticism. So if you want to be a critic a course in Journalism might help you out. Few institutes which provide vocational courses in Journalism in India are:
- Asian College of Journalism
- Indian Institute of Mass Communication
- Mudra Institute of Communication
- Symbiosis Institute of Media & Communication
- Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media
- University of Calcutta.
These vocational courses teach students how to go about writing a report, review or a journal.
Career Growth and Prospects
Being a critic is an intellectually as well as financially rewarding one. However, this domain is yet to mature, and hence do not have a set career graph, or an entry position. In most of the cases, a critic starts his/her career as a writer, or a journalist or an analyst in any publication house. With growing expertise and domain knowledge, the person is then automatically elevated to the level of a critic. Hence, being a critic is more of an incremental career growth, rather than a distinct career path.
One of the best starting avenues for being a critic is journalism. Once you get the first break as a journalist, things will fall into place. On the dint of merit a student can go places. Writing skill of a person has to be excellent and one should be able to write objectively to have a success in this field. Integrity and forthrightness are the basic personality traits a critic should have. If you are forthright in your views you will be able to become a successful critic.
Apart from this, a critic should have love and passion for the topic he is reviewing. With increasing demands for critics in the publishing houses as well as in television channels, the prospects of a critic in India seem very bright. Most of the print as well as visual/audio media companies have full time literary and film critics who come up with weekly and fortnightly reviews of new book/film launches.
In addition, lot of critics also chooses to work as freelancers.
Some Artists believed that critics bash artists, destroy egos, brag about their brush with celebrities and derive pleasure out of his/her act of belittling his target. This cannot be said about all the critics present in this world. There are critics who love their art and consciously make an effort to make things better and more palatable to the people at large.
Generally a critic is well remunerated. As Donna Lypchuk said, "Writing criticism can be fun, easy and a relaxing way to make money in your spare time." Their income depends on the credibility of what they say.
For a seasoned food critic the remuneration is around Rs.40, 000-60,000 per month but it depend s a lot on the advertisements the newspaper and magazine are getting and on its circulation. Critics generally give their comments in magazines, newspapers, and television which form their major source of income. They are handsomely paid by the media.
Apart from the monetary gains, the critic gets acknowledgement, trust and respect of people. Sometimes the critics are even feared by artist because of their harsh comments which can in turn affect the opinion of the people at large.
Job satisfaction is immense as one gets to say what he/she feels about a work of art. They do, at times, become prejudiced and try to have the thing tailored according to his/her preferences but that ruins the essence of the work.
How to start as a Critic?
Writing reviews in the college newspaper or magazines on cultural events in the campus will help one to gain experience. Familiarizing oneself with all form of arts might help in the initial stages because small publishing houses might ask one to write a review on any form of entertainment. Internship can be the first stepping stone in that process. Mostly the company in which one does his/her internship absorbs the amateurs. Sometimes institutes arrange on-campus recruitment which makes it easier for the students to find a job. Internship and on-campus recruitment can help the amateur to have a foothold in the industry because the first break is difficult to get.
Internet is an important form of mass communication today. Hence Internet can be used by amateur as well as by professional critics to post their criticism relating to any issue in hand. Critics or would-be critics can post their criticism on the Internet. Weblog (popularly known as Blogs) is another online medium through which a critic can try his hand at writing articles which maintains an ongoing chronicle of information. Certain websites have many authors, each writing his/her own article. In such case critics would find enough scope to write his article and get the feedback of his write up. This can be a possible forum for the critics. For further information you can revert to the websites available on the Internet dedicated to critic and their work.