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Everyone has the right to criticize

The very essence of art is to evoke emotions in people.

If I asked a random person why he or she appreciated a work of art, such as a movie, the average person would likely be able to identify how the work made him or her feel but not necessarily the film and storytelling techniques that resulted in that response.

That is perfectly acceptable though. The person’s opinion would be just as valid as that of a professional critic because art can be appreciated without understanding its underlying technical aspects. Everyone, regardless if he or she is a critic, responds to art in some way: they may feel sad when viewing a painting or angry at the protagonist when watching a movie. That response should not be dismissed only because someone cannot analyze and articulate the exact techniques used to achieve it — or at least to the same degree that a professional critic can.

Who is allowed to give criticism on a piece of work? In my opinion, everyone is allowed. Anyone can judge the quality of a work based on feeling and intuition. Art oftentimes can just be felt. If we say that an average person cannot criticize a piece of work and form an opinion on its quality, we would be neglecting the emotional aspect of art. That is not to say that professional critics cannot feel emotions — obviously they can — and so their opinions are valid as well. However, there should not be this idea that, in order to criticize a work, one must be an expert on the topic. Ultimately, we shouldn’t entirely disregard an opinion solely because the opinion is not of a professional and an expert, when it comes to something as subjective as entertainment and art.

One of the greatest discrepancies between audience and professional critic rating comes from the 2019 photorealistic computer-animated remake movie “The Lion King. Critics were quick to lambast the movie for its derivative and unoriginal storytelling, as well as its lack of energy and spirit. According to Rotten Tomatoes, the critical consensus is that “The Lion King” lacks “the heart that made the original so beloved.” The general audience, however, had a different response, with 88 percent of members giving it a positive review in contrast to 53 percent of professional critics.

Although critics were quick to point out the literary and filmmaking errors of the movie, a majority of the general audience enjoyed it solely on an emotional level. That does not make their opinions less valid because art is subjective — it depends on one’s interpretation of the craft. It is true that the movie did not follow conventionally-approved storytelling techniques, being a retelling of an prior story, but it did evoke positive responses and provided entertainment, achieving its purpose.

I do understand that professional critics have more experience with their specialty, and this does add more value to their opinion because they are more informed. In addition, because of their experience, they can distinguish between works that have been traditionally successful and those that have not. In some cases, one needs a certain level of expertise to understand and appreciate art fully. However, although there are some cases in which knowledge is necessary to truly understand and appreciate the work, art in general connects with the human spirit and emotions, something that is universal and can be related to by every human. Most art is intended for the audience, not for a certain select elite group of people. 

Art, at its core, is intended to provide entertainment and stimulate thoughts — something that every human can participate in. And so every human should be able to criticize it.

By Raymond Dunn, Staff writer
Editorial cartoon by Daniela Marquez, Photo manager