A Critic is a Man who Knows the Way but Cannot Drive the Car

Kenneth Tynan is infamous for being the first person to say ‘fuck’ on the BBC – for that he’s no doubt a hero to most. The often controversial, stubborn but always challenging theatre critic has a whole list of genius cutting  quotes from his life and work, many on the self-perpetuating fame of the critic – my all-time favourite being “A critic is someone who never actually goes to the battle, yet who afterwards comes out shooting the wounded”.

Kenneth Tynan by SAO!

Kenneth Tynan by SAO!

Kenneth Tynan is infamous for being the first person to say ‘fuck’ on the BBC – for that he’s no doubt a hero to most. The often controversial, exceptional but always challenging critic – he battled censorship for much of his career, which made him an enemy of the moral right – has a whole list of genius, cutting quotes from his life and work, many on the self-perpetuating fame of the critic – my all-time favourite being “A critic is someone who never actually goes to the battle, yet who afterwards comes out shooting the wounded”.

Toby Young references Tynan in his exploration of the impact on newspaper criticism from blogging critics in this week’s Culture Show, drawing on the Salt Lake City Journal’s tally of discarded critics. Speaking to film critics Peter Bradshaw from the Guardian and the Sunday Times’ Cosmo Landesman, writer Celia  Brayfield and film blogger Charlie Lyne Young explores the danger of losing quality of independent thought in the unconscious battle between professional and blogging criticism.

Of course, while it’s clear the Internet has created a channel-surfing culture where consumers can search for information in digestible bitesize chunks (see the explosion of Twitter), the critics that always flourish are the ones who deliver quality, provoking and entertaining copy – regardless of the media platform. Peter Bradshaw argues that professionals can keep their jobs safe by offering themselves as a “prose performer , someone who will entertain them and offer stimulus” – but this is just as relevant and possibly even more true for the blogging sphere where hits are just as crucial, statistics are instant and the competition is just a click and a bookmark away.

Watch the Culture Show on iPlayer – Toby Young’s piece is 37 minutes in.

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